Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drs. No

The American Medical Association is telling Congress it opposes public health insurance that "mandates physician participation” because “many physicians and providers may not have the capability to accept the influx of new patients that could result.”

The AMA is too discreet to say openly what its lobbyists have been telling such sympathizers as Karl Rove--that "many doctors limit how many Medicare patients they take" because they "can afford only so much charity care."

As one of 45 million beneficiaries of such medical profession largesse, I am reminded of a provision in the classic Hippocratic Oath:

"Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves."

In modern times, such prudish injunctions apparently do not extend to financial matters, and doctors want to preserve their freedom to do with their billing what may be prohibited in other areas.

When President Obama addresses the AMA next week, he will undoubtedly put it more tactfully, but the time has come to redefine that aspect of the classic doctor-patient relationship.

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