In general, America’s physicians share a common goal, providing affordable, compassionate and high quality care to all Americans. However, opinions on how to achieve such a broad objective diverge, often guided by ideology. The differences in ideology are not new. They date as far back as Hippocrates and Plato. Hippocrates focused primarily on the sanctity of the relationship between a doctor and a patient. Plato believed in the concept that physicians must consider the needs of society over that of an individual patient. Historically physicians came to embrace Hippocrates and to this day, still take the Hippocratic Oath upon graduation from medical school.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that this concept of putting society ahead of the individual was officially incorporated into American medicine. Dr. Edward Annis, prior to the passage of Medicare, gave a prescient speech in Madison Square Garden in 1962 about the dangers of inserting third parties, especially the federal government, directly between the doctor and the patient. Speaking specifically to America about the future, he correctly predicted that the Medicare legislation would “put the government smack into your hospitals, defining services, setting standards, establishing committees, calling for reports, deciding who gets in and who gets out, what they get and what they don’t, even getting into the teaching of medicine and all the time imposing a federally administered financial budget on our houses of mercy and healing.”
As he correctly predicted, our system currently is overburdened by bureaucracy whose growth is beyond our control. America’s health care “system” is subjected to perverse incentives, arbitrary price-fixing, utilization review, concurrent review, retrospective review, and retroactive denial of payment – making health care the most heavily regulated industry in history. The situation is now obvious and Dr. Annis’ predictions are reality. Government and third party payers are not the solutions, they are the problem. Bureaucrats and administrators will struggle mightily to justify their existence, but will never succeed by continually growing their burden upon the health care economy. Only by directly recognizing and dealing with the dysfunction inherent in our current systems will American physicians and their patients be able to achieve their long sought goal…quality affordable care which places the needs of patients and their doctors first.
For decades, the individuals who matter most in the evolution of our health care system, the doctor and their patients, have suffered as third parties have intruded into the core of the sacred relationship.
Until recently, physicians have settled for a “seat at the table”, in federal health care policy decisions. This has obviously been inadequate and it is now time for doctors to lead the conversation. It is time for all practicing doctors, those that look into the eyes of a dying patient, that hold the hand of a newborn infant, doctors in all practice arrangements to lead the conversation. For the sake of those who matter most, our patients, physicians must take the lead in moving control of medicine back to the doctor and the patient, so they may have freedom in their healthcare decisions. The Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation was created to work toward this goal. As an educational 501(c)3 organization, we are dedicated to promoting principles that enhance the freedom of doctors and patients to maneuver in this complex health care economy for their best interests, as opposed to the interests of intruding third parties, government or private. Only a well informed and educated populace can bring about changes necessary to solve our crisis. The Docs for Patient Care Foundation, led by America’s physicians, will explain the issues and offer common sense practical solutions to diagnose and cure the diseased healthcare delivery system.
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Lee S. Gross, MD
President, Docs4PatientCare Foundation