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  • This Doctor Fights Obamacare One Patient at a Time

    Embarrassed. Ashamed. Failure.

    These words don’t typically describe an accomplished doctor, but Martha Boone doesn’t fit the mold. The Atlanta urologist is an outspoken critic of Obamacare, warning her patients about its disastrous consequences and alerting fellow doctors to the ramifications for her profession.

    Lately, however, she’s spent more time worried about the survival of her own practice. With the new health care law about to add more patients to government-run insurance programs, Boone wondered how she would survive with dwindling Medicare reimbursements to cover her older patients.

    Because many doctors double as small businessmen, they face the reality of meeting a bottom line in addition to treating patients. Boone figured she had three options: lay off her office manager, drop patients who rely on Medicare or relocate her office.

    She didn’t like her options, but didn’t have much of a choice. After months of agonizing over the decision, Boone this month moved her practice to a less expensive office in an older building. It was hardly the ideal outcome, but it allowed her to keep her staff intact and continue treating her Medicare patients.

    “I feel a sense of shame; I feel failure because, on some level, I want to provide the very best for my patients and for my employees,” Boone said. “But it’s getting to the point where the bottom line is coming up and we’re just not able to sustain what we’ve done in the past.”

    Boone isn’t alone. Doctors across America are facing the same types of tough choices. An American Medical Association survey of more than 1,000 physicians earlier this year found 68 percent would limit the number of Medicare patients they take if the reimbursement problem wasn’t resolved.

    The issue took center stage in Washington last week as Congress retroactively canceled a 21.3 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements and replaced it with a 2.2 percent pay increase for doctors. But the temporary fix simply punts the problem to November when lawmakers will again need to act to avoid another cut.

    The consequences are startling. At a time when the Obama administration promises more people will have health insurance, there might not be enough doctors to treat them. Boone said physicians in their 50s are retiring early and young people are choosing other professions.

    “When I was growing up, we believed that if you really worked hard and got a great education, that you would have a really good life in America, that you would be affluent, that you would be prosperous,” Boone said. “And I think, what I’m experiencing personally is happening all over America.”

    Medicare impacts Boone’s urology practice more than others because the bulk of her patients are older and require care for urinary problems that develop later in life. Boone has two employees who spend most of their time fighting with the government over payment problems.

    “I absolutely detest that part of my life,” she said in disgust.

    She said the situation became so bad with Medicaid, an insurance program for the poor, that she stopped seeing those patients four years ago. When the government paid none of its Medicaid bills for 18 months, Boone simply gave up. She doesn’t want the same to happen with Medicare, given the difficulties patients are already experiencing.

    The AMA estimates one in four Medicare patients who are seeking a new primary care physician are experiencing difficulty finding one. That situation has played out repeatedly right in Boone’s office.

    “In one day, I had three patients in the office whose primary care cardiologists had stopped taking Medicare and all three of these patients had to go to the emergency room,” Boone said. “This is absolutely a travesty.”

    Boone said she’ll continue to make tradeoffs to practice medicine. Five years ago she moved to a less expensive home and two years ago her husband opted for a cheaper car.

    But she won’t change the way she practices medicine. While some doctors have moved to a model of seeing up to 60 patients per day, Boone treats no more than 25 per day. “I will not go to a model where I only spend four minutes with a patient.”

    Given the challenges, then why do it?

    “Every day when I get in my car and go home, I can think of at least five to 10 people that I have really helped,” she said. “So many people don’t get that out of their job.”

    Only now, in addition to helping people through medicine, she’s turning to political activism as well. Obamacare has made it necessary.

    “I never imagined that I would have to become politically active to take good care of my patients,” Boone said. “That’s added a whole other element to the life of being a doctor.”

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to This Doctor Fights Obamacare One Patient at a Time

    1. Billie says:

      Obamacare is sickening, needless and unwanted. Kill the bill!

    2. Rita Overturf says:

      This is shameful. I am on medicare as my mother and husband are also. We also have another tag on this problem. I have 3 children. My twin girls are in 30's. My son is in his late 20's. My daughter's I am ashamed to say, are on disability for a free ride. They are both healthy and totally able to work. They have never had a job. My son has a serious heart condition and is limited with daily life. We are handing out disability checks for welfare to those who can put on a short time act. With children the benefits are unlimited. Both girl's have husbands who will not, do not ever work. This makes a great impact on those of us who need care. This effects the entire chain of health care events for government, Doctors, and on down. I have heard no one address this. This is out of control. This matter also needs attention.

    3. Kay Van Eps, Sun Cit says:

      I have had to deal with Government Medical Insurance such as Medical, Medicaid and etc. Medicare processing is faster, thanks to Ross Pero. He & his techs designed the Medicare (c/fs) claim forms and the software in order to process the claims. He standardised the look & design of the EOB's (explanation of benefit forms), which was needed badly at that time. His techs wrote software that was compatible with most computer operating systems also. When the big 5 insurance carriers started using it, Medicare was much more understandable. Before his designers did their work, none of us could understand or tolerrate Medicare. Today, the Pero designs still work well. I don't know what Medicaid's problems are, however Medicaid is processed by all 50 states. This is too many chiefs. The states run Medicaid & are forced to take Federal hand-outs in order to afford it.

      Kay Van Eps

      Sun City, California

    4. Charlie Chicago says:

      I hope you all know that private insurance is already DEAD in this country thanks to Obamacare. In less than four years, when all the details of the plan kick in, every employer will have to pay full insurance costs for each of his employees, However, he can also choose NOT to pay any insurance by paying the penalty.

      You do the math – insurance will cost employers $ 6000/yr for a single employee and $10,000 / year for a family. Or the employer can pay a penalty of only $2000 per employee per year, and be exempt from the law. Then the employee goes to the "Public Option" which will be a hybrid between medicare and public aid, the two worst payors of all the insurance policies out there that pay doctors.

      Private health insurance is already DEAD, the laws are already in the books, nobody deals yet, with the details of a multi-thousand page obamacare set of new laws.

      If you think we have problems now – wait till everything already passed comes to fruition in the next three years.

    5. Billie says:

      …entrapment is against God's law and ethics.

    6. George A. Brooks MD says:

      Facing the same issues (but in primary care), I have been working hard to develop new revenue streams with ancillary office services and mutually advantageous deals between myself and people engaged in other kinds of health care services. We have started our own (patented and trademarked) Wellness Plan where uninsured people pay a membership fee monthly but nothing at all when they come to the office. We have also started a medical spa and a health and wellness center. I will soon be board certified in aesthetic medicine. I have not taken medicaid for a long time, and soon I will stop taking new medicare patients.

      The next step is to recommend my most sick and time consuming medicare patients to other doctors in the area ("sorry, I just don't have the time I used to have and cannot give you the proper care you deserve"), thereby flooding them with those patients (don't tell !). Then, if they continue to take medicare patients, their patients on commercial insurance who are crowded out can come to see me. Then, I will let my medicare patients dwindle away by attrition (don't have the heart to discharge them). I will not be seeing patients on the government plans in 5 years, before the baby boomer generation peaks in 10 years.

      I am sorry for our specialists who have fewer options since most of their patients are older and dependent on the government, which makes the doctor dependent on the government.

      Now, I am done with the government, except for one minor detail…I am now age 64 and have no insurance and the only health care I can buy in the USA is…medicare (got sick in 2004 and they forced me out of insurance with $10,000 premium for $20,000 deductible benefits).

      Now, those concerned about the joke of a reform bill, some of it is unconstitutional and much of the rest will be recinded and what's left will not be funded or enacted in any form resembling the current law.

      Thus, I suggest to spend energy on protecting oneself and working to get new people into Congress with a mission to do what is right for the people, and not the insurance companies and not for the expansion of government overhead to administer benefits.

      Whereas I could go on (and I know anyone with the patience to read to this point will be grateful that I do not), we can shape a more optimistic future for health care if we get rid of the self serving, power seeking, money grabbers that presently constitute the majority of our "representatives."

      Unfortunately, we cannot make more primary care doctors and I do not see a future in which our health care system will resemble anything like what we have now, except for those with enough money to buy it. Likely, future medicare clinics staffed by nurse practitioners will be the rule unless one buys a membership in a doctor's practice to have that level of care.

      With that I will retire and let someone else have the floor.

    7. Carrie says:

      (recently spotted this on the web)

      Obama's Re-Election Promise

      Whereas Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," Obama has come up with his own twist and promises, if he's re-elected, "a chick in every car and some pot in every garage"!

    8. Aaron, Orlando says:

      This MD seems to be clueless as to the amount of patient it will bring to her office's doorsteps. Why are all the Doctors whining about a healthcare bill that is going to increase their business?… do they see that the group of uninsured will have the means to go see the doctor now?!

    9. buck says:

      She said the situation became so bad with Medicaid, an insurance program for the poor, that she stopped seeing those patients four years ago. When the government paid none of its Medicaid bills for 18 months, Boone simply gave up.

      Who took care of those patients?

    10. Pingback: Why Doctors Need Repeal of Obamacare: Dr. Martha Boone’s Diagnosis | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    11. Pingback: Doctor Fears Government’s Expanding Role in Health Care | Big Propaganda

    12. Pingback: Doctor Fears Government’s Expanding Role in Health Care | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    13. Pingback: Doctor Fears Government’s Expanding Role in Health Care | The Conservative Papers

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