The benefits of health care reform are already starting to surface by shining a light on the strange behavior of a few doctors. Last month a Florida urologist posted a sign on the front door of his office door saying:
"If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your health care begin right now, not in four years."
It came as no surprise that Dr. Jack Cassell is a registered Republican, but it came as a surprise to Dr. Cassell that his irrational note did not garner the support that he expected. I'm not sure what kind of primary care providers the Tea Party people a drawn to, but the rational segment of the voting electorate in this country recognize that skill, compatence, professionalism, and integrity are key factors in selecting a physician. At some point Dr. Cassell realized the ethical tightrope his sign put him in and tried to downplay the event in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
"I'm not turning anybody away, that would be unethical," he told the Sentinel "But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it."
The fact that Dr. Cassell can't recognize that placing a note on his door telling certain patients to "look elswhere" for medical treatment is in fact turning people away and unethical. Could anyone imagine going to the hospital to find a note on the emergency room doors saying that if you George W. Bush, please try another hospital. What made Dr. Cassell's irrational note cross over into crazytown, was when he was asked specifics about the bill and admitted that he wasn't exactly sure what was or wasn't in the new law.
Now Arizona dermatologist Joseph Scherzer has put a sign in the front door of his office warning his patients that he will be closing his doors because of the new health care law.
"If you voted for Obamacare, be aware these doors will close before it goes into effect," the sign reads.
Scherzer, unsurprisingly another self-described conservative claims that the "stress" the new law will supposedly impose will cause him to shutdown his practice.
"I’m absolutely serious [about stopping practicing] and it’s not just because I’ll be nearing 65," Scherzer said. "The stress is what would push me out the door."
Scherzer said the new health care bill's emphasis on punitive measures for physicians not following government prescribed treatment methods under Medicare would increase his anxiety level to the point he would no longer be able to practice medicine.
"Doctors have actually committed suicide over these things," Scherzer said.
But it’s unclear what punitive measures he is referring to. One possibility is comparative effectiveness research (CER) into which treatments work most effectively. It is a provision in the bill that Republicans have been using to attack health care reform. They use it in lieu of some of the tired and wornout buzzwords such as "rationing" and "death panals" to claim it would impose standards and prevent certain kinds of treatment. But as pointed out by The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky, "CER is a recommendation, not a mandate."
Scherzer may be referring to Medicare billing fraud. But presumably he had to provide proper documentation for Medicare services provided before the President signed the bill into law. The new law simply strengthens these accountability measures to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Schezer also identifies as a conservative. He says that he has avoided politics for the past decade and that he blames the current poor state of the health care system on Democrats and Republicans alike. However, the proof in the pudding as to Dr. Scherzer's nuttiness is by way of attending his first Tea Party in New York City on Thursday night.
I suppose the wise health care consumer going foward had better do a little background work determine the political leanings of potential physicians.The last thing we need are people wearing Medic-Alert bracelets that read:
"If I'm not conscious and you voted republican, leave me be. The outcome would most likely be the same either way."