Let doctors practice as they see fit

December 25, 2013

A reader writes that today's physicans are subject to so many government requirements that they can no longer practice in the way that best suits patients.

Last decade, the U.S. government decided to force electronic health records (EHRs) on all physicians. The promise was, “Begin participating in 2011 and 2012 to earn the maximum incentive-up to $44,000 for Medicare and up to $63,750 for Medicaid” and “certified EHR technology can help improve the quality of health outcomes and the efficiency of healthcare, while providing privacy and security safeguards.” 

The reality is that physicians and healthcare facilities paid up to $70,000 per physician per year to establish and maintain EHRs. Physicians have had to deal with constant work disruption, steep learning curves, and loss of productivity costing even more money.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services demands that physicians meet the criteria for Meaningful Use (MU) to get the promised reimbursement.

In reality, the government is asserting that EHR is not optional, but is mandatory, via the “carrot and stick” threat. Consequently EHR MU audits have begun to assess compliance and recover government investment.

The government promised that Obamacare would provide all citizens with “free health insurance.” But in 2013, we saw efficient discount health insurance plans dropped from the market, while insurers scrambled to meet the government edict with bloated plans that cost up to 200% more.

The government had 3 years to develop an infrastructure for the Obamacare website registration system for the health insurance all taxpaying citizens must buy. They outsourced the information technology work (read that “jobs”) to Canada. We watched in disbelief as Obamacare rolled out in October and no one could sign up due to errors and nonexistent customer support. This is typical of most government programs in general and all entitlement programs; radical idea, poor planning, massive budget overruns, and dreadful execution.

Our time-honored medical tradition is to respect a patient’s privacy. Now, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the government can audit us without notice and play the roles of judge, jury and executioner. Physicians must hire an attorney, deal with practice disruption and lost income, and defend themselves against government-sponsored bounty hunters with seemingly unlimited time and money.

Physicians are damned if we do and damned if we don’t comply with expensive, arbitrary, and patient-physician privacy-conflicted government edicts. It seems best to assert our right to practice medicine in the way we see fit and that best suits our patients. This can only be accomplished by opting out of ALL insurance and government programs. Patients pay physicians and facilities directly at competitive prices on the free market; quality and service go up while prices go down. Everyone wins.

Craig M. Wax, DO

Mullica Hill, New Jersey