When politicians back the wrong horse
Last year it was the Republicans and Medicare pay cuts to physicians. The bill was the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, also known as H.R. 6331. Physicians who accept Medicare faced a 10.6% pay cut unless the bill was passed, but President Bush and a number of Republican legislators opposed the measure. H.R. 6331 passed into law. Shortly thereafter, the Republicans found themselves as the out of power party as the Democrats consolidated their power in Washington with the election of President Obama.
President Obama recently opined that physicians who are motivated by money rather than the patient’s best interest perform tonsillectomies when the patient simply has allergies. As yours truly predicted, there has been fallout from this. Interestingly, the fallout may not have been limited to the predictable outrage of ENT surgeons. Support for the President’s healthcare plan is eroding.
Do the American people keep up with healthcare policy news a lot more than politicians give them credit for? Is there a visceral reaction from the public against a politico who is perceived as attacking their doctors? I’ve noticed recently that my own patients seem to be pretty informed about President Obama’s healthcare plan, and every man Jack and woman Jill I’ve talked to opposes it.
It’s hard to quantify how much of an impact policies, proposals, and even comments that are interpreted to be “anti-physician” have on the fortunes of both politicians and their plans. But there is at least anecdotal evidence that when a politician targets physicians, he generally succeeds only in shooting himself in the foot.