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  • Guest Blogger: Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) on Obamacare's Impact on Doctors

    Rep. Michael Burgess

    As the health care reform debate began over a year ago, the American Medical Association, the top doctors group in the country, released a list of its top priorities for health reform. The AMA is a powerful association, and many have credited it with helping to kill HillaryCare, so the organization, of which I am a member, was in a good position to impact President Obama’s health care reform plan and accomplish some of doctors’ long-awaited goals. Remember, without doctors, there is no health care, so it is important that health reform address the issues that are important to doctors and will help them keep their doors open and better serve America’s patients.

    Two of the AMA’s top priorities are also two of the main reasons I decided to run for Congress almost 10 years ago – repealing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula, and nationwide medical liability reform. Unfortunately for doctors, Democrats in Washington, who have had control of Congress for over 3 years, have shown absolutely no signs of seriously addressing either of these issues. But with the AMA’s clout, I was hopeful that this time, with comprehensive health care reform a major goal for President Obama, these two big issues would finally be addressed.

    Last May the AMA was one of six health-related industries to meet at the White House on health reform, and this gave me even more confidence that doctors may actually be close to fixing the Medicare physician payment formula and medical justice reform. So I was very surprised when last summer the AMA endorsed Democrats’ health reform…before a bill was even introduced!! And even more surprised was I when the AMA also endorsed the reform bill that is now law, with a doc fix and liability reform nowhere to be found.

    The final legislation signed into law by President Obama last week had no doc fix and the lamest excuse for medical liability reform I have ever seen – a few million dollars for states to conduct pilot programs. In 2003, Texas passed one of the most successful medical liability reforms in the country, taking the state from a condition where doctors were fleeing to other parts of the country before 2003, to one where the state medical licensing board cannot keep up with the thousands of doctors now flocking to the state to practice medicine. So who needs a pilot program? I have a bill to make national medical liability reforms – H.R. 1468, the Medical Justice Act, which would implement Texas-style medical liability reforms on a national level. I believe all Americans, and all of America’s doctors, are entitled to the kind of reforms that have made Texas one of the best places in the country for doctors to practice medicine. I also have a bill to repeal and replace the flawed SGR formula that Medicare uses to determine physician payment – H.R. 3693, the Ensuring the Future Physician Workforce Act. Medicare’s physician fee schedule will pay doctors less this year for the same patients and services they provided last year, and this flawed formula needs a permanent fix. This legislation would give doctors and patients the sustainability and reliability they really need.

    But like I said, ObamaCare included neither Medicare physician payment reform or liability reform. So today, on National Doctor’s Day, I submit that while we as doctors know that there are many problems with our nation’s current health care system, the legislation that is now the law of the land did little, if anything, to make life easier for us. Instead, health reform ignored, despite the clout I thought the AMA had, two of the top priorities that we have asked for year after year. More Americans will have health insurance, which is a good thing, and there will be more IRS agents, but whether or not there will be enough doctors that are able to keep practicing medicine, I believe, is a question that currently has no answer.

    Posted in Obamacare, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Guest Blogger: Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) on Obamacare's Impact on Doctors

    1. Albert P. R. says:

      I am also very surprised that the AMA didn't push for this. Evidently, there must be some strong Obama allies in the AMA hierarchy who decided not to push this in their agenda.

      I agree that the fees for malpractice insurance are outrageous. The cost of practicing keeps going up but the return is diminishing. I hope you get this passed.

    2. 126 S. Lakeside Dr. says:

      If this a fact. This would solve not only Obamcare it would recend most of the laws signed by this FRAUD not a nature born citizen of my country.

      Solo Soetoro, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, baby Maya Soetoro, and 9 year old Barry Soetoro.

      This registration document, made available on Jan. 24, 2007, by the Fransiskus Assisi school in Jakarta, Indonesia, shows the registration of Barack Obama under the name Barry Soetoro made by his step-father, Lolo Soetoro.

      Name: Barry Soetoro

      Religion: Islam

      Nationality: Indonesian

      How did this little INDONESIAN Muslim child – Barry Soetoro, (A.K.A. Barack Obama) get around the issue of nationality to become President of the United States of America ?

      PART 2:

      In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College ..

      The transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia while an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California . The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify for this scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.

      This document provides the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking – that he is NOT a natural-born citizen of the United States – necessary to be President of these United States . Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya , here we see that there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship..

      Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records.

      Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still on-going but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused comment on this matter.

      LET OTHER FOLKS KNOW THIS NEWS – THE MEDIA WON'T!

      I think this is the best way to recind the Tarp,Health,and the so called jobs bill phony ball outs they should be declared void-and all the low life tax cheats and gangster the non-president has appointed.This President is a fraud and not of our CONSTITUTION.

      GEORGE BROWN

      43614056

    3. Billy Bob, Disctrict says:

      Knowing many people's ambitions and desires to be doctors, along with the prestige of practicing medicine, I strongly believe that there will be enough of a supply of doctors as long as there are hospitals and clinics willing and able to employ them.

    4. D Medlock says:

      Dr. Burgess, I appreciate your sentiments as they have been my own. However, I have taken one step that you did not mention in your eloquent statement The actions of the AMA since last summer has left me believing the AMA sold physicians across the country down the river, therefore, I have cancelled my membership.

      I would recommend my fellow physicians take the same action as the AMA has become one more Chicago political asset that does NOT represent the voice of doctors in this country!

    5. Pingback: Blather. Wince. Repeat. » Blog Archive » By the way . . .

    6. Sharon Markham, Kell says:

      Mr. Burgess,

      Living in Texas we know that everyone has access to health care, but not everyone has insurance. We see patient in the emergency room every day that have on designer clothes, shoes and have the lastest in electronic devices, yet these people do not pay there medical bills. They use the emergency room for a doctors offices and cause extreem delays in the time it take to see a physician. These situations are one of the major reason for the increase cost of medical care. We the people need to quit being so politically correct and secure our borders to these illegal immigrants. We all know that ObamaCare is not about health care but about redistribution of wealth, and government take over. That is why we are counting on people like you to fight this unconsitutional health care plan before it is to late.

    7. Billie says:

      He intentionally promised the impossible. He complicates the simplest. He is ignorant to fair, reasonable, practical solution. He discriminates, treats with bias, and promotes racism. We do not want obama government running our personal health.

      Remember a congressman or leftest said "republicans want you dead now!" Not only was this intentional FEAR MONGERING, threatening, it was childish, as the government democrats show themselves to be. And their take-over bill doesn't even come in for another 4 years?

      Truth being: Obama government wants us to die by slow torture or a quick slip from a government doctor…

    8. Jill, California says:

      I'd like to see the AMA address the problems that make medical malpractice lawsuits necessary. I sued a doctor for negligence after he performed the wrong surgical procedure and did permanent damage to my knee. I didn't get much money from the lawsuit, but it was necessary to protect future patients.

      The doctor never informed me ahead of time about different options, which means I never gave informed consent. The procedure he performed was NOT the one listed on all of the preoperative paperwork, including the consent form. The procedure he performed was contraindicated for my age and for the type of torn meniscus he "claimed" I had. (An expert witness later testified that I didn't have torn meniscus after all and that I hadn't even needed surgery.) While anyone can make a mistake, the doctor clearly violated his duty of care. For that, he deserved to be sued.

      If I could have sued him for losing my Workers' Comp coverage too, I would have done so. I spent hundreds of hours fighting with the County to restore my coverage after the doctor lost my coverage by failing to be clear, accurate, and specific in his report to the claims adjuster. All he had to do was clearly state that the injury was work-related, incurred in the line of duty as a volunteer firefighter. Instead, because he couldn't clearly articulate his thoughts, he confused the injury with an unrelated event, prompting the claims adjuster to say that my doctor deemed the injury nonindustrial.

      I doubt the doctor spent more than five minutes dictating his report for someone else to type. But I lost hundreds of hours from my business as a self-employed person. He made one lame attempt to help me restore my coverage, but then gave up because it was "too much trouble." For that, too, he deserved to be sued.

      I'm all for putting an end to frivolous lawsuits. But until we solve the problem of negligent doctors, we shouldn't take away an injured patient's ability to recover for damages.

    9. Max, Memphis says:

      To Jill,

      First of all, no one can "solve" the problem of negligent doctors. There are and always will be those who make inexcusable mistakes. They certainly should be forced to make restitution to those they damaged. I don't think anyone is arguing against that.

      What is at issue, i.e., what is driving up malpractice premiums, is the award of astronomical punitive damages by juries. These can be explicitely punitive or in the form of "pain and suffering" awards. These affect premiums because those huge numbers are included in the calculus copmanies use to set premiums. The risk of being forced to pay an astronomical punitive award must be considered when deciding the potential cash a dr may cost the company. Therefore, if the non-economic, punitive damges are capped, premiums will fall because that giant number is not in the equation any longer.

      Premiums will also fall becuase the volume of suits will fall, costing insurance companies less in litigation costs. The type of suit that will decrease will be the frivilous ones. Insurance companies will be able to settle for less becuase the financial risk of going to trial is reduced. This reduction in potential reward along with the reduction of the potential award at the high end with the punitive damages cap, will make medical lawsuits far less attractive than they currently are to lawyers.

      Serious malpractice reform is a win-win: lower costs, while freeing society of a lot of scum lawyers.

    10. J. James Rohack, M.D says:

      We were deeply disappointed in Dr. Burgess’ blog post.

      As Dr. Burgess notes, at the beginning of the national debate on health system reform, the AMA laid out seven top priorities for reform. Dr. Burgess has discussed repeal of the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and medical liability reform, and both issues are critical to the eventual success of health system reform. More about that later.

      But the recently passed health system reform legislation does reflect the five other AMA priorities and goes a long way to making America’s health system better for patients and physicians:

      Health insurance coverage for all Americans. The new health care reform law expands coverage to 32 million more Americans, coming as close as many experts believe we can get to covering the uninsured.

      Insurance market reforms that expand choice of affordable coverage and eliminate denials for pre-existing conditions will benefit those currently insured and the newly insured. The reforms in this legislation are by far the most significant in generations and address the most serious abuses by the insurance industry.

      Assurance that health care decisions will remain in the hands of patients and their physicians, not insurance companies or government officials. The new law protects that most sacred relationship. Indeed, new research has the potential to greatly improve the decision-making partnership between patient and physician, and new coverage will ensure that the prescribed therapy is actually accessible.

      Streamline and standardize insurance claims processing requirements to eliminate unnecessary costs and administrative burdens. These reforms have the potential to produce significant savings in the health care system and greatly simplify what can be a frustrating and bewildering process for physicians and patients alike.

      Provide investments and incentives for quality improvement, prevention and wellness initiatives.

      As I noted, Dr. Burgess is correct that the new law fails to address two of the most vexing issues facing medicine—medical liability abuses and the SGR. To that list, we would add one that Dr. Burgess failed to mention: the right of patients and physicians to privately contract for services.

      While the current Congress has yet to find the solution to the SGR, we’re hopeful that it will vote to repeal this flawed formula once and for all. Congress created the SGR despite the AMA’s warnings that it was a terribly flawed policy. And by keeping the SGR in place, Congress continues to grow the problem. It was not until 2009 when the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the first time to eliminate the SGR, and it did so with a single Republican vote (thank you, Dr. Burgess).

      On the issue of medical liability reform, we remain hopeful that the pilot programs in the new law will provide useful evidence that alternative reforms such as early offer programs, safe harbors for best practices and health courts are effective additions to proven reforms such as those in place in Texas. This is not ideal, but it is more than had been done by previous administrations. There is still much more work to be done.

      The solution to these critical challenges does not lie in saying “no” to other critical reforms. Lack of medical liability reform or a final solution to the SGR crisis does not require that we as physicians abandon our primary obligation to our patients. The solution is to continue to move forward, making progress and growing step by step, just as this nation has done since its founding.

      We look forward to working with Congress – especially Dr. Burgess and the other physician legislators — to build on this common ground and making the additional essential reforms a reality.

    11. Pingback: Guest Blogger: Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) on Obamacare’s Impact on Doctors « The Keane Insurance Group Blog

    12. gofer says:

      The real figure is around 12 million that want insurance and can't get it either from a cost standpoint or a pre-existing standpoint and the bill will still leave millions uninsured. It's a perfect example of tossing the baby out with the bath water. Americans were not clamoring for health reform. 85% were covered. This bill is a disaster, both economic and personal. The AMA sold out and that was evident by them supporting it before there was a bill. Since about 20% of doctors belong to AMA, they don't really represent the industry. All doctors and nurses I know, (I work in the industry) are very opposed to this bill.

      More govt. intervention, just what the medical industry needs, right?? Isn't that doctor's #1 complaint???

    13. Thomas F. Purdon , M says:

      I could not possibly disagree more with Dr,Rohack. For the second time in my professional career, I have resigned from the AMA. They do not represent the majority of Amercan physicians. By jumping on board early and trying to "be at the table", we have sadly,once again been " on the menu"; devoured by the trial lawyers and big government regulations. Great jjob AMA.!

    14. Thomas F. Purdon , M says:

      I could not possibly disagree more with Dr. Rohack ,For the second time in my professional career I have resigned from the AMA. It is clear they do not represent the majority of American physicians. They foolishly jumped on board with the so called health reform plans early so that they could "be at the table" for medicine. We were alright, except that we were "on the menu"; having been devoured by the trial lawyers and the power hungry politicians who have succeeded only in gaining more government control over the practice of medicine, while likely raising taxes and health insurance premiums for the majority of Americans.

    15. Ellen Humphrey Tulsa says:

      What is Obamacare going to do to the American taxpayer when Puerto Rico becomes the 51st State of the United States… the Congress is voting on this today! Their unemployment level is 16.2% and who knows how many of them will be put into the soon to be obsolete Medicaid.

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