Doctors still wield tremendous influence in the health care debate, since they still have the confidence of most patients.
If Congress and the Obama administration can convince doctors to support health care reform, it can be, as the ACP’s Bob Doherty notes, “decisive in determining if the public will be behind the effort, because voters are much less likely to support health care reform if told that it will result in the ‘government’ taking decisions away from their own doctors.”
In his recent blog entry, he notes two points that can sway physician support either way. The first is being paid fairly for their services, and not having Medicare payments tied to the flawed SGR formula. Furthermore, there has to be more than a “token increase in payments” for primary care to make it a viable option for medical students. Indeed, the entire payment system needs to be shifted away from a fee-for-service system, and more towards rewarding time spent with patients and preventive care.
Secondly, paperwork has to be streamlined. As mentioned last week, every doctor generates upwards of 10 hours of bureaucratic work daily. If a public option resembles the paperwork morass that is now Medicare, that will further sway physicians away from government-backed reform.
The best way to convince the public is with the support of the medical profession, and needless to say, we’re following what’s happening in Washington very closely.