Friday, October 30, 2009

Health Reform: Georgia on My Mind

Melodies bring memories
That linger in my heart
Make me think of Georgia
Why did we ever part?
Some sweet day when blossoms fall
And all the world's a song
I'll go back to Georgia
'Cause that's where I belong.
Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you.
Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind

Song, Georgia on My Mind

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Georgia. This is partly because I was raised in neighboring Tennessee. And it is partly because the Medical Association of Georgia had the fortitude and foresight to sponsor a study indicating private practice positively impacted the general economy rather than being a negative drag, the position of the Obama administration (see November 6, 2008, medinnovation blog, “Economic Impact of Private Practice in Georgia.” In more recent years, as the health reform debate has evolved, and particularly now, as its reaches its flash point, I like Georgia even more.

Why? Because you always know where the doctors of Georgia stand. You don’t have to agree with them, but you know where they stand. For example, 79% of them stand against a public option, and 72% stand against an individual mandate.

And, as I read the statement of M. Todd Williamson, MD, an Atlanta neurologist and immediate past president of the Medical Association of Georgia before the GOP Doctors Caucus in Congress on October 28, it becomes clear Georgia doctors stand against any government involvement or intervention into doctor-patient decision making.

In making his statement, Dr. Williamson represented the Coalition of State and Specialty Medical Societies, made up of 50,000 practicing physicians and two past presidents of the AMA – Donald J. Palmisano, MD, AMA President, 2003-2004, and William G. Plested, III, AMA President, 2006-2007.

In the words of Dr. Williamson, “There is no place for government in our exam rooms.” When patients ask what Georgia doctors think of current health reform bills, Doctor Williamson says, “We tell them we reject the premise that increased government involvement in the delivery of care is good for them or our profession.” But he adds, “Unfortunately, increased government involvement is our patient’s health care forms the basis of all of the bills that are currently making their way through Congress.”

Georgia physicians stand for.

• patients being able to spend their own tax-free money on their own medical care;

• patients being able to own and control their health insurance regardless of their employment status,;

• government adequately funding Medicare and Medicaid, for tort reform with a cap on non-economic damages;

• removing the government and third parties from the patient-physician relationship;

• not using comparative effective research as a rationing tool, and for fixing the SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) formula as a basis for paying physicians. Of SRG cuts of 21.5% go into effect this year, Dr. Williamson says, “Our seniors will fact an unprecedented loss of access to medical care because doctors will be unable to continue to treat seniors.”

Accompanying Dr. Williamson’s statement were letters to Nancy Pelosi, and to Max Baucus and Charles Grassley.

In the Pelosi letter, the Coalition set forth these principles on a patient-centered health system.

1. Choice of Health Plan

2. Choice of Physician

3. The Right to Privately Contract

4. The Right of Physician to Determine Quality Care.

And they “adamantly” opposes: 1) The Public Options; and 2) Individual and Employee Mandates.

In the Baucus –Grassley letter, the Coalition expresses “concern” over.

1. Government mandates requiring individuals being required to purchase health insurance or face penalties, standardized health insurance benefits, physicians being required to participate in quality reporting or face a Medicare cut of2%; and the establishment national bench marks for resource use with cuts of 5% of those exceeding this use.

2. The temporary- one year SRG patch to replace the Medicare 21.5% cut with a 0.5% increase in 2010.

3. Giving HHS the authority to cut Medicare rates a new CMS Innovation Center and Independent Medicare Commission.

4. The absence of any mention of tort reform in the Baucus bill.

5. The lack of any language about the ability of doctors and patients to privately contract without penalty.

I am proud a leader of the Medical Association of Georgia, representing the Coalition of State and Specialty Medical Societies, is taking a lead for physicians' stands on health reform, which have received scant attention in Obamacare circles and in the national media.


Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

There's a lot more wisdom in Georgia than in D.C.

Anonymous said...

nice post & nice blog, keep sharing to the world ya :)

please feel free to visit our pimple's blog at

thanks before

Unknown said...

Thanks Richard!
Recently I have show that patients now better understand the benefits of technology and are embracing it to improve their health.