April 8 2011

Bad for Doctors, Awful for You and Me

Hadley Heath

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing Jason Fodeman, M.D., speak at a Galen Institute event about the release of his new paper, "The New Health Law: Bad for Doctors, Awful for Patients."

Much has been made (even by me) of the negative effects ObamaCare will have on the medical profession, and why doctors will support ObamaCare repeal, but Fodeman's paper takes a slightly different approach.  Clearly, when a physician cannot do his job to the best of his ability - because of the injection of more complexity and more bureaucracy into the health system - patients suffer.  Fodeman, along with a room full of doctors from Docs 4 Patient Care, spoke at the event about both policy concerns and personal concerns they have about the law. 

One theme that was echoed by all the M.D.'s present was this: Who should make health care decisions?  Should it be doctors and patients, or should it be the government?  Every person's body is different, and every person's health needs are different.  A top-down, one-size-fits-all solution is no solution at all.

Fodeman said, "Physicians need flexibility to treat, not the average patient, but the actual patient."

Like nearly every other American public policy debate, the health care debate is about two options: market controls or government controls.  The fact is, individuals always have more power in the market.

Fodeman speaks from a unique perspective.  He's a visiting fellow at the Galen Institute, and a health policy wonk, but he is also a resident physician at the University of Connecticut.  (Where did he find the time to write a policy paper?)

When I had the chance to speak with him after the event, he told me that he went into medicine to be the advocate of the patient.  So far in the U.S., the doctor-patient relationship has been sacrosanct.  But Fodeman concluded in his paper:

PPACA's detriment to physicians is extensive. It will drown doctors in red tape and bureaucracy. It will limit physician autonomy and their ability to help and advocate for their patients... Ultimately the consequences of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will translate into restricted access and inferior quality of care. No matter how you look at it, this legislation is terrible for physicians; however, it is always the patient that suffers the most.

The main reason that Fodeman or any other doctor would oppose ObamaCare is because he or she cares about patients, and is concerned with the impact the law will have on quality of care.  I encourage you to read his paper and get the details.

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