The ACP Advocate Blog

by Bob Doherty

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Will health reform be good for doctors?

Hot off the press is a report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) that argues that health care reform will be good for doctors and other health professionals. The report was co-authored by Bob Berenson, MD, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, writing on his own behalf.

Dr. Fred Turton, MD, FACP, chair-elect of ACP's Board of Regents, participated in a CAP-organized event today to get reaction to the report from "distinguished members of the health professional community." He spoke favorably about the report, which makes a solid case that health care reform will help physicians provide better care to their patients, improve clinical decision-making, promote wellness and prevention, and improve the lot of primary care physicians.

I know from many of the comments posted to this blog that there is a great deal of skepticism, bordering on cynicism, among many physicians. Primary care physicians, in particular, seem burned by past promises that reforms will make things better for them (remember the RBRVS?), only to see that their work continues to be systematically devalued. And many physicians have principled concerns that health care reform will give the government too much authority to dictate clinical decision-making. Their concerns need to be addressed by those of us who believe that health care reform is essential and right for doctors and patients, not treated dismissively.

For many doctors, health care reform is a case of "trust but verify" as Ronald Reagan famously said about the Russians. These physicians want a better health care system, but they don't trust Washington to get it right.

The next several months will be a battle for the hearts and minds of physicians, because physicians have such a high degree of credibility with the public. If doctors embrace health care reform because it is right for them, and right for their patients, the public will feel far more confident in the outcome. If doctors end up echoing the concerns of those who are worried that health care reform will take decisions away from doctors and patients, then health care reform will lose the support of the public and ultimately falter.

Today's questions: Do you believe that health care reform will be good for doctors? Why or why not?


Blogger Andrew Schamess said...

I am sure it will be good for us, because the insurance companies behind the current health reform proposals doubtless have physicians' best interests at heart.

April 17, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

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Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog

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