When doctors complain about reimbursement and their salaries, there is often very little public sympathy.
So when progressives envision health reform, downward pressure on provider salaries is often their preference to control costs. It’s politically safe, and unlikely to encounter significant public opposition.
But, as I’ve written before, this antagonizes the medical profession. And when they hold so much influence over patients’ perceptions of health reform, wouldn’t it be better strategically to court doctors?
Surgeon Jeffrey Parks has an excellent take on this issue. He writes that, in order for doctors to consider changes in payment — like placing doctors on a salary, for instance — something has to be given in return:
You want to transform the physician class into civil servants, fine. But do something about the exorbitant cost of medical school. Address the threats of frivolous lawsuits. Ease the burdens of running an office by subsidizing EMR. It’s a package deal . . .
. . . You can’t ask doctors of the future to earn less and work more without subsidizing the training and schooling, without addressing the med mal crisis.
Progressives do themselves no favors when liberal pundits marginalize the importance of medical malpractice reform, or imply that doctors are overpaid. It simply galvanizes physicians against their cause. Why go out of your way to make enemies when the prospect of health reform is so tenuous?
Most in the medical profession are reasonable. There would be more than a few who will accept lower pay, a salaried position, or even a single payer system, if explicitly paired with serious liability reform or medical education subsidies.