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Doctors most to blame for U.S. health care crisis



Published: Wed, August 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Doctors most to blame for U.S. health care crisis

EDITOR:

I am writing in response to the Aug. 4 article "Soaring [Malpractice] insurance premiums squeeze out doctors, clinics."

American health care needs a brain transplant. The latest proof is the press for tort reform spearheaded by American Medical Association's boss and intellectual popinjay Dr. Donald Palmisano. He and his cronies would have us believe that were it not for grasping insurance companies, opportunistic legislators and gunslinging malpractice attorneys goaded by angry patients, there would be no health care crisis, or not of the magnitude and quality we know it to be. Bullhockey.

Item: Physicians are the chief agents of America's health care crisis by their chilling indifference to the behavioral consequences of America's bizarre system of health care financing. Last year, according to figures derived from a Commonwealth Fund study, as many as 100 million patient visits were pre-emptively voided by physicians themselves, or by prospective patients, uninsured and alienated, who correctly surmised they'd be turned away from treatment. This medical triage by insurance status is considered perfectly acceptable, and is somewhat similar to lawyers' voir dire for jury selection. Alas, no one has ever succumbed from failing to be impaneled in a jury box.

Item: Repugnant, too, is Dr. Palmisano's willingness to hold patients hostage to their ailments to wring concessions from state legislators. The states should recoil from this transparent arm-twisting and expand the authority to practice given to physicians' assistants, nurse-practitioners, midwives and other auxiliary practitioners. Further, the states ought to demand as a condition of licensing that physicians accept uninsured, cash patients.

Item: Of the 58 orthopedic surgeons whose departure prompted the University Medical Center's trauma clinic to shut down, only 10 to 15 were reported to have returned when their liability was capped when they became temporary county employees. This suggests an incomplete news story, or that forces other than medical malpractice premiums are at work.

Item: Can Dr. Palmisano cite even one example nationwide of a physician without an independent income giving up medicine's financial rewards and imputed social prestige for that dynamite scullery job at Denny's?

JACK LABUSCH

Niles

Difficult dilemma in case

EDITOR:

I think we have all become aware the news is not a fairy tale complete with a happy ending when even the most devastating news is delivered realistically.

We, as a nation, have learned to find some solace in the fact that actions normally lead to results. We've learned to expect an arrest, a hero to emerge or even a new law to pass. Something always seems to surface.

The Aug. 6 Vindicator story about an an ex-boyfriend's attempt to have a court order stop an abortion defies my action/result theory.

Now people who oppose abortion clearly will consider this a lost case. People, like me, who strongly believe in "the right to choose" will view the ruling differently, but I believe we will equally respect the effort placed before the Court.

Probably no precedent will be set by this case. No emotions of the people involved will be spared. It will only give new meaning to the saying "damned if you do, and damned if you don't." It's often said the "man above" will ultimately make the final judgment but maybe in this case "The man with the black robe" did just that.

CHRISSY FLESCH

Mineral Ridge




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