Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

31 March 2010

Government Appreciation for a Great Family Physician

This is not a post about abstract effects of government controls on our medical profession.  This is a small note on my offense that the best family doctor I have ever met has recently been given a raw deal by the federal government.

This family doctor has been practicing family medicine for a good 30 years.  He loves being a doctor and relieving his patients of pain.  His fees are very reasonable and he takes a strong personal interest in his patients.  He takes the time to talk over how they feel and he is careful to check up on the medicines given to many of his patients by specialists, who often do not check for conflicts with other medicines the patient may be taking.  His patients respect and care for him in return.  He and my father and mother became friends over the many years they were and are his patients.  This doctor saved my father's life many times and helped guide him and my mother through the last four years of my father's life when my Dad was on dialysis due to his kidneys failing after another doctor damaged them with radiation in prostate cancer treatment.  The average 80 plus year old patient lives about 1.5 years on dialysis, but with this doctor's help, my Mom's help, and my Dad's indomitable soul, Dad lived on dialysis from 85 to 89 years of age.  My Dad died at home Christmas morning in 2007.  His doctor visited him at home on Christmas Eve to say goodbye.

In his entire career, this great man and family doctor was sued only once.  Despite that, his malpractice insurance went up by 25% from last year to this year.  He treats many Medicare patients.  Very recently, he sent in a Medicare reimbursement request for my Mom and he soon after received a letter telling him that he was being fined $3,000 by Medicare because he had allowed his Medicare registration to expire.  It turns out that a doctor taking Medicare patients not only has to put up with low payments and much paperwork, but he also has to pay $2500 every five years to register with Medicare.  Medicare had never notified him that his Medicare registration was expiring and he forgot, as a very busy man with much more important things on his mind might do, after 5 years.

Not only was he fined $3,000, but he has to reapply for his registration with Medicare and pay for that.  That may take months.  Meanwhile, none of his Medicare patients will be reimbursed by Medicare for their medical costs.  So the good doctor sent a letter to all of his patients telling them about the problem and telling them he would give them all a 25% discount until his Medicare registration is complete.  His waiting room is still overflowing with patients.  They all love him and are hardly willing to go to a run-of-the-mill doctor in order to be reimbursed.  But, the loss of income due to his discount and in the face of the 25% increase in malpractice insurance is making it hard for him to continue his practice.  Nonetheless, he told my Mom he would continue as long as she was alive, so she would never have to worry that he would not be her doctor.

Being a doctor who treats Medicare and Medicaid patients is very much as though you or I had to deal with the IRS on a daily basis.  Can you imagine the daily trauma?  Their payments for medical care are too low and they are miserable to deal with.  They turn a profession dedicated to healing pain and extending life into a drudge.  And now, ObamaCare will extend this misery for doctors.  No one seems to fully understand the role of the IRS in ObamaCare, but I sure hope that it is not such that our heroic and good doctors have to deal more often with them as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and the well over 100 other federal agencies and panels which are to play roles in ObamaCare.  Can anyone imagine the horror of having to deal with that many uncaring, mean-hearted, money-grasping, you-wait-forever, they-want-it-yesterday government agencies?

The day after my Mom dies, I hope this good and heroic man retires and says he has had enough.  No one like him should serve a day of slavery to the likes of these government bureaucrats.  Doctors have the same sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that the rest of us have.  Remember, these inalienable rights are equally sovereign to us all.  There is no exclusion of doctors.

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