'War against Doctors'

“War against doctors” has a ring to it, made to order for Republicans. I wonder if they'll use it in the fall?

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) should make a doctor’s practice more efficient. Of course, that depends on the database and how it is implemented. If EMR must conform to government standards, could it be that the implementations are suboptimal? To judge by Obamacare--nah, couldn't be.

Oh, and doctors must make “meaningful use” of EMR to get paid. How is that measured? Would a bureaucrat recognize “meaningful use” if it bit him on the elbow?

I'm sure that DC-10, requiring 70,000 new reimbursement codes, will increase fraud and waste. Here's why: When I worked for a medical billing company, I learned that consultants put on training seminars (in the Caribbean in winter, naturally) for medical officer managers to learn how to maximize revenue through “proper” coding, i.e., by gaming the system. This training was so specific that classes were tailored for the quirks of each of the major billing software packages. And that was for the old coding system. DC-10 quintuples the number of codes. Sounds like a dream come true--for consultants and fraudsters.

And speaking of fraud, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid during 2010 was over $70 billion. To put that number into perspective, it is about five times the profits of all the private health insurance companies in America combined.

Why are these government programs so beset with fraud and waste? One reason is “pay and chase”:

Medicare currently practices what is often called “pay and chase” in which a Medicare provider is paid, and then chased down later for a refund once an error or fraud is detected. Too often the improper payment is never recouped.

Remember when Obama talked about funding his medical adventure through cutting down on the fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid? Yes, he’s gone strangely silent on that.

But don’t worry, be happy! Just groove to the liberals’ chant, “Single payer!” “Single payer!” “Single payer!” Yes, truly, all our troubles will be over once the government pays for all medical care.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.

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