Listening To Doctors or Right Wing Editorial Writers on Health Care

When opponents of health care reform aren’t admitting to ignorance to what is being proposed (as with Michael Steele) they generally publish outright lies about what is being proposed. Common right wing lies include claims that this is a “government take over of health care” or some form of socialized medicine. Conservative pundits such as William Kristol are making up any arguments they can to kill health care reform (and don’t believe for a minute they will come up with any real alternatives).The absurdity of the conservative line can be seen in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal, perhaps because they are starting to believe the falsehoods they publish on health care every day, is shocked that AMA would endorse the House health care proposal. I noted some of the reasons this should not have come as a surprise in this post.

The arguments given show the usual right wing intentional ignorance of the realities of health care. They claim in the subtitle that “The AMA signs its members up to be civil servants.” This is a complete falsehood. Does anyone really believe that the AMA, which has opposed most reform measures in the past, would go along with anything of this nature? Do they really think that the leadership of the AMA has suddenly gone insane?

The health care reform measures being considered preserve the private practice of medicine. Doctors would not in any way be civil servants. The reality of health care practice is that when government pays the bills they hassle doctors, and interfere with our decisions, far less than when private insurance is paying the bills. While nobody is really advocating socialized medicine in this country, the reality is that what conservatives consider socialized medicine leaves patients and doctors far more free than we are under corporate health care.

The op-ed claims that “Medicare’s administered prices are already 20% to 30% lower than those of private insurers…” I wish that private insurers were paying me than much more than Medicare but it simply isn’t so. The initial proposals for a public plan spoke of paying ten percent more than the Medicare fee schedule, knowing that this would likely receive the support of doctors who would see this as paying more than we receive now.

I’m certain that some high priced surgical procedures are paid at this much above Medicare’s fees, but one goal is to reduce this discrepancy. Generally private payers well under ten percent more above Medicare. It isn’t all that rare that some plans, due to various restrictions on payments, wind up paying significantly less than Medicare. In addition, the overhead in dealing with Medicare is relatively low. I’ve avoided accepting some plans as they would significantly increase my overhead by needing to  hire more staff to request prior authorizations and handle their increased paperwork. Medicare pays very reliably after submitting claims electronically.

The bottom line is that the AMA knows what is far better for doctors that the biased editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal. In addition, they realize that health care reform is also better for our patients.

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