Friday, June 19, 2009

AMA comes out against single payor and NY Times audience erupts

While the New York Times is rightfully known as the nations' newspaper (sorry USA Today), their articles bring out the worst in it's audience when healthcare articles are feature. Witness last weeks article "Doctors’ Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan" which describes the American Medical Association's (AMA) on the record objections to some of the single payor plans being floated by President Obama's administration and by Democrats in congress. As I write this, there are well over 600 comments to this article on the website, with 99%+ full of fury direct towards doctors.

I don't think most of these commentators actually read the AMA's position carefully to understand what they fear.

1. Crippling of the system by an influx of uninsured or newly covered participants

2. Forced participation by physicians in government plans at below market rates

3. Monopolistic pricing to exclude any competition from private plans

4. No attempts to address the malpractice climate

We've already seen what happens when you mandate universal coverage and then don't fund it adequately in Massachusetts. Similar problems exist in Canada and Great Britain where national health systems infrastructure teeters on the brink of collapse. There's a disconnect about how much money we're talking about to make something like this work and most of the New York Times' crowd thinks it's greedy doctors' fault.

No plan or option is going to actually save ANY money, it's actually going to cost a great deal in taxes to expand coverage. That's fine, but it's a decision you have to make in context of a budget. If you spend it on healthcare it's going to come from social security's money pot in all likelihood. Right now there is a distinct lack of discussing of the cost shifting that's going to occur and the consequences thereof.



Anonymous said...

SURPRISE! the AMA isn't interested in the needs of average americans. who knew?

Dr. Rob Oliver Jr. said...

No, what the AMA wants to point out is that you can't pour "magic pixie dust" on the current system and magically emerge with a system that will work in the USA.

There is a large infrastructure existing which has developed over a century involving medical education, medical records, malpractice issues, hospitals, durable medical goods, etc... that cannot just be retooled on a dime. Hundreds of billions of $$$$ are tied up in resources on the basis of long term healthcare economics which will require years to decades to unwind.

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