HHS chief Q&A article left physician with more questions than answers

LETTER — Posted Nov. 13, 2006

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Regarding "HHS chief: Get ready for quality reporting" (Article, Oct. 2): So let me get this straight: Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt's plan entails physicians identifying, designing and implementing our own quality measures. What does he think we do every day, strive for mediocrity?

Then, in an odd answer to a question that is very close to my heart, will physicians who take care of sick noncompliant patients (mostly because they cannot afford their medicine) be penalized, he states, "We're pioneering." It sounds to me like he does not have a clue about how to proceed.

There are just two things I would like to know:

What is going to happen to the patients whose doctors lose the value-based competition?

If he thinks that we are doing such a miserable job of taking care of our patients to begin with, how can he entrust us with such an important task?

None of this is going to matter anyway. If listening to the medical students I teach is indicative of a growing trend, there will be no primary care physicians to do this mandated and uncompensated work.

Dean Raffaelli, DO, Chicago

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/11/13/edlt1113.htm.

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