According to a new Bloomberg.com article, doctors who specialize in the treatment of heart disease and cancer are fighting the proposed $1.4 billion cut in Medicare payments to heart and cancer specialists next year, while the debate goes on about healthcare "reforms".
The article says:
The proposal slashes payments to specialists and increases disbursements to family practitioners and nurses. I love my general internist, and I think costs are increasing partly because there has been such a drop in the number of doctors who want to become primary care providers.
But what competent family practitioner or nurse would try to handle someone's cancer treatment or heart surgery?
It seems to me that we have too few primary care physicians right now because they are already constantly second guessed over every referral they make and every test they want to run, and bound up in red tape and insurance paperwork. We have already seen lawsuits this year by medical doctors, the AMA, and others because of the fraud in the computer system that was used for years to determine the dollar amount that insurance carriers paid to doctors for "out of network" services. If they did not take the time to protest every single individual payment they received for such services, they were underpaid by the carriers. And it went on for years. They are already being run out of practice by the paperwork and red tape, and pressuring them to have nurses do more of the work, while cutting the number of specialists willing to accept the referrals, would make things worse for them too.
And nurses? I keep remembering every time I have heard of hospitals cutting nurses or having lesser trained staff perform duties previously performed by nurses, leaving the nurses overworked and performing duties beyond their training level in order to cut costs. Would shifting payments from a cardiologist or oncologist to nurses really help the nurses, or just press hospitals to move physicians' work to nurses and move nurses' work to lesser trained staff yet again?
This is just another example of how the proposed changes don't reform. I would like to see real reform that meets the needs of the uninsured. That could even include a public option. But right now, our government wants to cut health care provided to the sick and come up with the money to provide abortion and end-of-life services that are not health care.
Unfortunately, I think, unless we are all on our toes, "reform" is going to end up meaning cuts in necessary medical care, and public funding of abortion, and little more. It is bad enough that I have no voice in whether my HMO bills my office for premiums, for every participating employee, that are used to pay for other people's abortions, whether we like it or not. Having the government use my tax money for the same thing, while cutting the part of my tax money that goes to save lives, sure doesn't strike me as "reform".