Low-tech reforms would free physicians to treat the uninsured

LETTER — Posted Aug. 16, 2004

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Regarding "Universal health care coverage through technology" (Column, July 12): Leonard J. Marcus, PhD, and Barry C. Dorn, MD, tell us that one way to get medical care to the uninsured is to offer them a basic basket of services. This would be accomplished by a universal electronic medical record and digital information systems. This would let doctors devote more time to patient interaction and less time to administrative and routine tasks. Such automation would lower costs and "make it easier to open the door to publicly financed health care."

The translation of that, of course, is more government interference.

There is no state with more uninsured (percentagewise) than Mississippi. I can't give more care to the uninsured because I am swamped by state and federal regulations, demands, paperwork, mandates, etc. -- especially now with HIPAA.

The last thing I need for overhead expense is a new whirlwind of electronic data bombarding my computer and office staff. If social engineering wonks would just leave me alone, I'll get to the uninsured. Just give me two reforms:

First, a loser-pays system so I can get the plaintiff bar out of my office and let me concentrate on patients and less on defense.

Second, tax credits for my charity work, which will at least help with overhead. I need less government, not more. I need tort reform and tax reform, not medical reform. Perhaps Drs. Dorn and Marcus should spend more time in practicing doctors' offices rather than meeting with "leading government officials."

Calvin Ennis, MD, Escatawpa, Miss.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/16/edlt0816.htm.

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