My take: Pete Stark, residents

1) Pete Stark continues his attack on the medical profession, calling specialty hospitals places for “back rubs and silk robes”.

My take: Specialty hospitals deliver higher quality care with a lower complication rate and at a lower cost.

Mr. Stark’s profound ignorance of medical issues is stunning and dangerous. It is frightening that a politician of his stature is so openly biased and antagonistic against physicians.

His personal ill-will against the medical profession will harm the public he represents. His goals of driving down physician reimbursement and closing specialty hospitals will do nothing more than deprive patients of physician access and the option of specialty hospital care.

Doctors will survive Mr. Stark’s assault. I’m not so sure about the patients.

2) Two resident physicians are featured prominently endorsing weight loss products.

My take: I’m not going to take issue with DOs specifically, since plenty of MDs also hawk questionable products.

More striking is that residents are targeted. Graduating medical school with a $150,000 debt and making around $50,000 for the first few years out certainly puts some financial pressure on the newly-minted doctor. Like Drs. Marshall and Swanson, there are plenty who will feel the need to sell their name and degree for quick cash.

One thing to keep in mind. In addition to the hit their reputation takes, their good name will be forever linked on search engines to Hydroxycut and Rapid Slim SX. Not the biggest marker of confidence for prospective patients who will undoubtedly Google their physician.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi – I worked for another Congressman on the Subcommittee where is the Chair. He huffs and puffs a lot, but he does know a great deal about Medicare and some other parts of the healthcare system. Despite that has been a long proponent of Medicare-for-all type solutions, and like many politicians, he is very hard to move off his long-held positions.

  • The Happy Hospitalist

    The specialty hospitals aren’t the problem. More competition always increases quality and service and choices for the public which is good.

    The problem is the current reimbursment model which higly most procedural care. That’s why you see specialty hospitals in things such as cardiology, self standing endoscopy centers, overnight general surgery centers, out patient orthopaedic centers, outpatient urological surgical centers.

    These are all well reimbursed for the time value they generate.

    You wonder why there aren’t specialty hospitals for the care of pneumonia? Cellulitis? Stroke? Diabetes? Sepsis? Acute Renal Failure? Congestive Heart Failure? COPD?

    These are the bread and butter medical illness that are labor and resource intense and reimbursement poor,

    These are the money losing enterprises of medicine. The goal for any major hospital system is to maximize revenue by increaseing DRG payments. That means striving for the cardiac bypass, the total knees, the over night surgeries.

    These are the revenue makers that support my money losing patients.

    In the current reimbursement system, specialty hospitals take that disproportionate revenue stream away from the subsidized nonprocedural admissions that lose money to the hospital.

    What needs to happen?

    Make all illness created equal and stop devaluating certain sickness and stop incentivizing other illnesses.

  • #1 Dinosaur

    Another thing: quit using the word reimbursement and use the right one: PAYMENT.

  • Anonymous

    How long would Mr. Stark survive if he showed as much contempt for trial lawyers as he does for physicians? Can you imagine him passing laws to limit trial lawyer income and investing? Maybe even a sliding scale for the percentage of the settlement given to the lawyer…

    The fact that Mr. Stark shows such a well tolerated contempt for physicians with no consequences is the quintessential evidence of the profound disrespect that Washington has for physicians (providers). This has occurred because we are notoriously cheap with donations to PACs/lobbying organizations. Sadly, I do not think that this will change.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Stark has astonishing personal health care benefits that he has voted himself. Pete Stark is a breathtaking hypocrite, demanding a level of outstanding personal medical care that he would deny us mere citizens, not members of the ruling Mandarin Class:

    1) Members of Congress obtain health insurance coverage for themselves and their families through the extremely generous Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).

    2)The Attending Physician’s Office is a $1.8 million-per-year operation that encompasses three separate facilities employing nearly twenty doctors, nurses, and technicians in the U.S. Capitol (some of whom are part-time workers). The clinics are open to Members of Congress and Legislative Branch employees. Until 1992 lawmakers were entitled to receive acute care, lab tests, and other clinical work free of charge. No waiting lists here! Instant care!

    3) One medical benefit for lawmakers that even other Congressional employees can’t obtain is the combination of outpatient care at the Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital — along with inpatient care at the minimum flat daily rate even if intensive care treatment is required.

    4) Congress has basically free massage therapists at its wellness centers/gyms (LITERALLY “back rubs and silk robes’)

    (reference: Congressional Perks: How the Trappings of Office Trap Taxpayers NTUF Policy Paper 131 at

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree that Congress would better understand the plight of regular folks if they were left to attempt to buy health insurance on their own!

    Now on the weight loss doctors. I’ve seen those ads, they turn up on crime shows. I think they chose those guys because they’re targeting the supplements (which IMO are worthless) at young men. The Residents are a bit porky, but young looking. So I’m less onto the targeting young Dr. to recommend, and more thinking they fall into the age category they’re marketing the supplements to.

  • IVF-MD

    ” This has occurred because we are notoriously cheap with donations to PACs/lobbying organizations. Sadly, I do not think that this will change. “

    As a follow up to the previous commenter, it is hard for me to respect a political system as fair and democratic when laws are being made and passed based on the amount of donations special-interest groups give to the voting congress and senate members. It’s just as blatant to hear news coverage regarding elections and the prediction on who will get elected based on how much each candidate is raising ie “so-and-so has no chance of being elected because he has only raised $xxx amount in campaign funding”. Granted the media who sell air time and commercial space to the candidates love for the system to stay this way, but it doesn’t make it any less hypocritical. I’m guessing many people share my wish to live in a fantasy world where candidates are each given an equal amount of air time to voice their views and money does not enter into the equation of who gets elected or what laws get passed. Dream on.

  • Anonymous

    Stark is a hypocrite given the perks he gets thanks to us (the public). On top of that he hasn’t been anything but a congressman for 35 years. Frankly with type of “experience” I am not particularly iunterested about his take on running a private medical practice.

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