More than 10,000 doctors petition Congress

I was wondering why the voice of the medical community was so low. Not so anymore. Today, a petition signed by over 10,000 physicians is being delivered to congress which defines to Congress the parameters around which a proper health care bill should be forged.

The general complaint by the medical community is that HR-3200 does little in the way of actual reform. For example, there is no mention of Tort reform in HR-3200.

The petition drive was launched by Sermo and is intended to let lawmakers know that they want to contribute to the reform process. Sermo :

After the August recess, the signed Appeal will be delivered to Senators in every state. Each Senator will then be invited to speak with the Sermo community about the real issues at the root of spiraling healthcare costs.

The points outlined in the Appeal are listed below. The first item addresses my point spelled out on this post.

  1. Unnecessary tests and procedures are reduced through tort and malpractice reform.
  2. Doctors are allowed to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork by streamlining billing and making pricing more transparent (create an alternative to CPT codes).
  3. Medical decisions are made by physicians and their patients, not insurance company administrators.
  4. Adequate supply of qualified physicians is assured by revising the methods used for calculating reimbursements.

Item 4 – the supply of qualified physicians are influenced by tort reform, or lack of it. Adding to the pressure for this adequate supply are the uninsured – 47 million of them – who will be brought into the system by HR-3200, or some variant.

How does HR-3200 figure in to this?

Talking points from HR-3200:
Page 40; Section 134 – Regulate all insurance plans, both in and out of the Exchange.
Pages 84-87; Section 203 – Decide which treatments patients could receive and at what cost.

The other gnarly problem I foresee relates to malpractice lawsuits which Tort reform will not abolish. Understanding that nothing in this world is perfect which includes doctors and their medical procedures, who does the patient or the family of the patient sue when the patient meets an untimely demise due to carelessness by the hospital or the doctor? The doctor or the insurance provider?

Under the guidelines described in Section 134 & Section 203, above, in pursuit of a diagnosis a patient receives a battery of tests which are supported by the insurance plan. However, other tests which could uncover the cause of the disease were rejected because the plan does not cover them or deemed to be too costly to spare the life of the patient.

Alternately, the patient is deemed to be too old to receive life-saving care. In either case, the patient dies.

Who does the patient’s family sue? Certainly they cannot sue the doctor. In a court of law, I believe it can be shown the doctor acted responsibly by employing all procedures and tests allowed to the patient under the provisions of HR-3200 – regardless of which insurance provider is providing that coverage. That leaves little choice to the family for redress.

So, the family looks up the line to the government regulated insurance company. It may not be that simple. If a health care bill does allow for a family to sue the insurance company what is the limit of culpability on the part of the government who is responsible for the regulations described in Section 134 & Section 203 Can the family sue then government?

Conversely, if the government is responsible for influencing the doctor’s choice of treatment what redress does the doctor have? Can the doctor sue the government?

If so, the government’s lawyers assigned to the case are going to bring forth all resources to bear (an army of more lawyer$) to protect the “people’s money”. In fact, it would mean the people’s own tax money is used in defense against the patient’s or doctor’s legal case.

Better late then never

It’s a shame it has taken this long for the medical community to get organized. On the other hand, timing is everything and I’m glad to see it happen now.

A bigger shame is that Congress, again demonstrating the infinite wisdom that can only be described as “absolutely amazing”, has yet to conduct a broad based discussion on health reform with the medical community.