Submitted by The City Wire staff on Wed, 07/22/2009 – 9:18am.
Two Fort Smith doctors support the survey findings of a group who say a majority of U.S. physicians are opposed to Pres. Barack Obama’s healthcare reform proposal.
Sermo, the largest online community of physicians, released on July 17 a letter signed by more than 13,000 U.S. physicians. Sermo released the letter the day after the American Medical Association endorsed the President’s plan.
“Physicians are the only true advocates for their patients and this bill fails to meet what physicians need to improve the quality of care they deliver,” Dr. Daniel Palestrant, Sermo CEO, said in the statement. “By endorsing a bill that does not adequately address concerns of physicians in this country, the AMA shows again that it is out of touch with physicians and is conflicted by its own business model. We welcome both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to engage with real physicians who actually practice medicine to get real-time feedback on how to reform healthcare.”
Dr. Todd Stewart, an independent physician in Fort Smith, said most physicians he knows are opposed to Obama’s proposed plan.
“The AMA does NOT represent any of us, and very few of us are actually members,” Stewart said in an e-mail interview with The City Wire.
Stewart, who says he has read the more than 1,000-page healthcare reform bill, pointed out several areas he thinks are flawed.
“Obama is consistently politicizing two points: (1) If you’re happy with your current plan, then we’re gonna let you keep it. (2) This healthcare plan is gonna be deficit neutral. I won’t sign anything that isn’t.
“On (1) — liar, liar. The bill outlaws private insurance within 5 years. On day 1, in order for ANY current plans to remain legal then they have to meet three points: no new enrollees, no benefit changes, no premium changes — if they violate any one of the three, then they are illegal. This system is to ‘grandfather’ them in, but it expires within 5 years. After 5 years, then ALL health plans are required to be in compliance with Federal mandates on “basic” coverage, no exceptions. So, essentially, private contracts between an individual or business and and insurance company will be illegal.
“On (2) — no a lie, but a disaster. He’s right, they will ensure that per CBO numbers, it will be deficit neutral … not that it won’t be in deficit, but that it won’t INCREASE the deficit. Basically, the Federal government pushes it off onto businesses and the States as a mandate.”
Dr. Cole Goodman, a Fort Smith physician, also said the doctors he knows agree with the Sermo statement. He said “very few” doctors in the Fort Smith metro area are AMA members. Goodman said “it’s safe to say” most doctors think Obama’s plan will not result in better patient care.
“The current healthcare proposals aren’t going to fix anything. It’s just more of a tax,” Goodman said. “If you think you are lowering costs, fine. But if you think this will mean your care, your level of care will improve, then you’re just wrong.”
Sermo recently released results of a survey indicating that most doctors no longer want the AMA to represent them. According to the Sermo survey, 75% of physicians surveyed are not members of the AMA, and 91% of physicians surveyed do not believe the AMA accurately reflects their opinion as physicians.
Of the doctors surveyed, 87% think it is wrong that the AMA makes more money from insurance companies than it does from membership dues.
(Sermo reports that 4,156 physicians responded to a survey, conducted between July 1 and July 7, 2009; and 1,957 physicians responded to a survey, conducted between July 8 and July 16, 2009.)