Ken Klukowski: Doctor's Stir, Half-Asleep
October 23, 2009
This column originally appeared in The Washington Times on October 23, 2009.
Doctors are waking up to the reality that Obamacare would end their profession as they know it. But many are still half asleep to the consequences and must learn the truth before it’s too late for all of us.
The White House has tried to convince doctors that they could make a deal. Government would cover people without insurance, and doctors could continue practicing medicine as usual.
The villains have been pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and we’re told that only they would take a hit. But recent statements by President Obama and his allies make one thing clear: Doctors, you’ll be next.
First were Mr. Obama’s false statements about doctors in his prime-time press conference. One was that when doctors have a choice of giving you the red pill or the blue pill, the doctor will give you the more expensive one even when both pills do the same thing.
The second was that doctors choose to take a child’s tonsils out to make more money, even when not medically needed. This statement shocked many doctors, as they realized Mr. Obama says doctors will do things to line their own pockets, causing unnecessary pain and expense to patients.
These statements are grossly unfair and untrue, slandering our doctors and impugning their motives. (It’s also false. The doctor who diagnoses a child for a tonsillectomy is usually not the same doctor who performs the surgery.)
The final statement was in early August, when Mr. Obama said that a doctor won’t focus on keeping your foot from being amputated because the doctor can make $50,000 for cutting your foot off.
Mr. Obama’s bottom line: Your doctor’s greed is the reason your health care is too expensive, and they’ll even cut off body parts to make more money.
This finally got the American Medical Association (AMA) to respond, saying this accusation is completely untrue. For one thing, the AMA said, a doctor would only make $700 for that procedure, not $50,000.
The AMA has been trying to cut a deal with Mr. Obama, which is a terrible mistake. AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack, explained on “Fox News Sunday” that the AMA is trying to find some sort of plan because it wants to get the middle man -government or insurance companies – out from between doctors and patients.
While he’s doubtless an excellent doctor and means well, he doesn’t understand who he’s dealing with. Unless a patient pays for care out-of-pocket, there will always be someone paying the bill – government or insurance.
If the AMA thinks things are rough now, just wait until the federal government is the only source for health care dollars. Ignore what Mr. Obama is saying now; he’s a master of saying whatever the polls tell him works, no matter how flatly they contradict statements he made when discussing his true beliefs. In 2003, he said he favored a “single-payer” system, where government pays all medical bills.
Congressional Democrats also favor this approach. Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, a House leader on health care, explained that he supports the “public option” because he sees it as a stepping stone to a single-payer program.
Once single-payer is in place, doctors would realize their ultimate nightmare. Government wouldn’t directly control them, but would tell them simply that if they wanted to get paid they will do as told.
Government will only pay for what it authorizes, so doctors would have the choice of practicing without reimbursement or only giving medicines and doing procedures that the government approves.
Those of us who are married to doctors can tell you that doctors are brilliant and well-educated, but most aren’t very good at politics. They’re accustomed to dealing in good faith to reach mutually beneficial goals. In short, they’re not used to dealing with the double crosses, deceit and power-hungry machinations of opportunistic politicians.
The proof that doctors’ groups dealing with the White House don’t yet appreciate the danger they’re in comes from Dr. Rohack’s repeated statements that doctors desperately need malpractice reform. They do. Such reform would end “defensive medicine” and save $100 billion a year.
But Mr. Obama has recently repeated that there would be no malpractice reform. Trial lawyers contribute over 80 percent of their donations to Democrats, making them the largest financial supporters of the Democratic Party.
The recent slanders and attacks have started to wake doctors up to the danger they’re in. If they fully engage with all the facts, they might yet save us, like they do every day.