Obama Not Following His Doctor’s Advice On Health Care Reform

David Scheiner, Obama’s internist from Chicago, says Obama is on the wrong track with regards to health care reform. No, he is not a doctor opposing health care reform but is recommending a single payer system. From Forbes:

Scheiner, 71, was Obama’s doctor from 1987 until he entered the White House; he vouched for the then-candidate’s “excellent health” in a letter last year. He’s still an enthusiastic Obama supporter, but he worries about whether the health care legislation currently making its way through Congress will actually do any good, particularly for doctors like himself who practice general medicine. “I’m not sure he really understands what we face in primary care,” Scheiner says.

Scheiner takes a few other shots too. Looking at Obama’s team of health advisors, Scheiner doesn’t see anyone who’s actually in the trenches. “I have a suspicion they pick people from the top echelon of medicine, people who write about it but haven’t been struggling in it,” he says.

Scheiner is critical of Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary–Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who used to work as the chief lobbyist for her state’s trial lawyers association.

“He doesn’t see all the pain, it’s so tragic out here,” he says. “Obama’s wonderful, but on this one I’m not sure if he’s getting the right input.”

What should the president be focused on? Scheiner thinks that a good health reform would be “Medicare for all,” a single-payer system where the government would cover everyone and pay for it by cutting out waste in the system. “A neurosurgeon gets paid $20,000 for cutting into the neck of my patient. Have him get paid $1 million a year instead of $2 million or $3 million. He won’t starve,” Scheiner says.

Conservatives apparently loved the title of the article (Obama’s Doctor Knocks ObamaCare) and the beginning, but then had to change the tone after reading of Scheiner’s support for a single payer plan. Gawker noted:

After first quoting approvingly, the National Review‘s Mark Hemingway actually updated his post on Schneier. He had initially quoted the first three paragraphs and concluded “Ouch.” But then he read all the way to the sixth paragraph and discovered Schneier spouting Maoist propaganda. Like we said, whatever. The headline’s out there. Take it away, Hannity.

Scheiner also said that the proposed public plan doesn’t go far enough, and that Obama isn’t doing enough on malpractice reform:

Scheiner, like most others in his profession, thinks that it should be harder to sue doctors and that awards should be capped. He says that he and other doctors must order too many tests and imaging studies just to avoid being sued.

While conservatives often exaggerate the significance of malpractice when they sometimes claim that solving this problem will end most of the cost problems, the fact remains that this is probably the largest area where health care expenses can be cut without lowering quality. It makes little sense to talk about saving small amounts of money in other areas, or to spend large amounts of money on computerization of medical records in the hopes of future savings, without doing anything about money wasted on defensive medicine.

Malpractice reform will provide a test of whether the Obama and the Congressional Democrats are more concerned about lowering health care costs or appeasing the trial lawyers who typically support them.

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Lloyd Y. Asato says:

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  2. 2
    Lloyd Y. Asato says:

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  3. 3
    Lloyd Y. Asato says:

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  4. 4
    Dianna Bastian says:

    In response to: 
    “A neurosurgeon gets paid $20,000 for cutting into the neck of my patient. Have him get paid $1 million a year instead of $2 million or $3 million. He won’t starve,” Scheiner says.
    I ask why? Is it because Scheiner wishes he was paid the high bucks for less risk?
    Does this Scheiner guy understand that the neurosurgeon has far more risk and higher malpractice premiums and works longer and more hours than an internist who has normal “business” hours…thus justifying a much higher salary. And if he wants to take more call and make more money, why punish him? Why not focus on capping athletes or Hollywood stars that make gobs of millions? Do you think the public would go for that? Surely that would be a no. Where is the respect for intelligence and saving lives in this country?! 

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Dianna,

    While some might, most internists don’t work normal business hours. Primary care physicians generally work more hours than neurosurgeons.

    Scheiner is not talking about punishing neurosurgeons or putting caps on income. The point is simply to reduce the discrepancy between what is paid for spending an hour doing surgery or spending an hour treating people to reduce their blood sugar or to reduce the need for them to have expensive procedures.

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