A Simple Request From The Front Lines Of Healthcare

Garrison Bliss | The Hill | March 4, 2014

I know that there is going to be another scuffle over the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). I know that we have already paid $150 billion on “doc fixes” since 1997, and I know that everyone in healthcare is trying to make sure that their ox will not be gored. I also know that nobody is looking forward to the tectonic disruption that a 24 percent pay cut will have on innocent Medicare patients and the physicians struggling to care for them. Given all that, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do something that might dramatically reduce the cost of healthcare while also improving access, quality and patient satisfaction? What if this were something over which there is virtually no controversy?

There are simpler steps Congress should consider to cure Medicare's ills.

I am a primary care physician.  This week a 90-year old patient of mine with arthritis went to the ER with severe back pain – without talking with me first.  He had a full exam by an ER doc, a panel of 30 lab tests, 2 sets of X-rays, an MRI, ECG, and a neurosurgical consultation.  He was given morphine to dull his pain, which made it impossible for him to walk or move his bowels.  The steroids they gave him raised his blood sugar to 3 times normal.  He was admitted to the hospital, given insulin, evaluated by more physicians, nurses and a physical therapist while he recovered from his ER visit.