Trust: The central issue in health care reform

Marion Mass, M.D. and Craig M. Wax, D.O.

$6.1 million per year represents an increase in 12% of the take home pay that Gene Woods received from public non-profit Atrium Health system last year.  During this 6.1 million dollar year the following remarkable events happened:

 A group of over 80 physicians accused Atrium of monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior and left, starting independent Tyron Medical Partners

Atrium terminated its 40+ year contract with anesthesiologist group Southeast, and replaced them with another.   This move spawned lawsuits now pending in North Carolina Business Court, and spilling into public view.   One Southeast anesthesiologist boldly wrote to the Charlotte mayor, “we think that this decision puts our community members at risk.” The anesthesiologists “believe that the community should know about this, and that they should be able to weigh in on the decision,” the physician wrote.

 In November,Atrium said that personal information for more than 2 million of it patientsmay have been compromised in a data breach of billing information, includingaddresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Oops.

Mr. Wood’s increase in salary must have been possible because Atriummade more money somewhere, despite the legal and PR burdens of dealing with theabove mentioned likely expensive problems. Atrium must have made more, despite that when those 80 physicians leftatrium, the hospital lost millions. That’s right. As reported by Marni Jameson Carey, of Association ofIndependent Doctors,  “ hospitals make on average $2.4 million a year net for everydoctor they employ.”

 Is it possible, that thereplacement of Southeast Anesthesiologists was a financial win for the hospitalbut the Charlotte area is getting less safe care? Time will tell, but patients donot want to gamble with a profession as important as anesthesia.   Beautifullyexplained by Dr. Sasha Shillcutt, anesthesiologists“ are the experts others call when youneed resuscitation.”

Patients do not want to gamble with something as important asmedical care in any medical specialty. Large health systems aremaking business decisions that might not be good for America’s health, andattempting to replace physicians, or control them, even inpediatrics.  Patients need to askthemselves what Dr. Rebekah Bernard asks,“Who do patients need, physicians or administrators?” A fairquestion in a landscape where there are 10 administrators for everyphysician.  Astounding, that those whocan’t remove an appendix, deliver a baby, resuscitate an infant, or diagnoseand treat pneumonia outnumber those of us who do.  No wonder care is so expensive.

CEO Mr. Woods is not doing anything illegal. He’s able to make that money because of the way the system has been set up; to favor LARGE entities. Fix the system. Stop rewarding the big behemoth hospitals the big behemoth PBM‘s, GPO, insurers, pharma companies distributors . How did they get so big?  Our big behemoth government allowed decades of laws favoring these special interests to get piled on top of each other so that the small patient would be paying more and getting less. How interesting that the healthcare special interests themselves constitute have constituted four of the top ten lobby groups in America for DECADES.  The result of this lobbying is a phenomenon that can be summed up in a phrase: administrative glut that costs the patient more. Sad that some legacy medical organizations are complicit.

Physicians are speaking out. Physicians mentioned in this article, and many thousands more across the country are honoring their Hippocratic oath in a new way.  When you become a physician you swear to “be loyal to the profession of medicine” and to practice medicine for the “good of the sick and the well”. That oath is sacred, and we must honor it to protect our patients by advocating.

Exciting to many physicians and patien tadvocates across the country, is the coming together of many grassroots groups in the Free2Care movement.  Physicians without conflicts of interest, from across the country, across specialties and acrossthe aisle, physicians who are speaking to fulfill their Hippocratic Oath.  OnApril 1, 2019, they congregated at the Library of Congress, and made public apaper of specific suggestions to reduce costs and improve access in the healthcare landscape. 

Specific ideas that :

A.Drive Drug Prices Down and Increase Supply.

B.Strengthen the Safety Net for the Vulnerable.

C.Foster Fresh Models to Pay for Medical Care.

D.Reverse Our Physician Shortage.

E.Make Actual Prices Transparent.

You can read the entire paper here.  We were honored to be authors on that paper, and to be present on a day when Women and Men in white coats gathered in a historic room to speak for their patients and their profession. We ask you again, America, who do you trust? Business men like the $6 million dollar man, or those who swore an oath to protect you?

1 thought on “Trust: The central issue in health care reform

  1. Many physicians across the country are honoring their medical oaths which include the Hippocratic Oath for the Allopathic Physicians, commonly known as M.D.s, and the Osteopathic Oath for the Osteopathic Physicians, commonly known as D.O.s.

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