- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2007

The prescription for better health care

The article “Benefits coffers short by trillions” (Business, Tuesday) underscores the urgent need to do something about Medicare. But the problem is about more than money. It’s also about the program’s continued ability to deliver quality, affordable health care to older Americans.

Medicare was created to connect patients with physicians. Today, this lifeline is slowly being severed by what I call “death by a thousand scalpels.”

Cut one: Allowing for a 10 percent cut in Medicare physician payments.

Cut two: People like Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat, who want to add people to Medicare by lowering the age limit.

Cut three: Pushing e-prescribing or other health information technology which forces doctors’ offices to lose even more money if they don’t switch to expensive and unproven electronic technology.

Each cut may be small, but together they are seriously starting to fray the Medicare lifeline. Already, doctors across the country are opting out of Medicare just as millions of baby boomers are about to enroll.

Congress has to find a way to fix these holes and keep the doctor-patient connection before it’s too late.

As a doctor for nearly three decades, I understand what works when it comes to running a medical office, managing patient records and using technology to deliver better care.

I also know that market-oriented policies, not top-down mandates from Washington, are the real prescription for better health care. Congress should consider these things as we work to keep the Medicare program healthy.



HIV/AIDS and personal responsibility

I must assume that Dr. Gary Blick is a pseudonym and that his Monday letter, “A weak response to HIV/AIDS,” is satire.

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