Just who is a doctor?

By Charles N. Hubbard, MD

“Healthcare reform is coming … soon,” announced Steven Ondra, MD, neurosurgeon and healthcare advisor to the Obama administration, at this year’s National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. “While the details have yet to be worked out,” he continued, “it is clear that promoting primary care is essential. There will be winners and there will be losers.” He didn’t say who would be in the latter category but he obviously felt we needed to hear that. And since we are not considered “primary care” … well.

These are truly troubling times. The new administration and Congress are determined to bring healthcare reform now with little apparent regard for what it will look like and what it will mean to providers and patients alike. They are convinced the main culprit that has put health insurance out of reach for so many is too much specialized care. If, they believe, they can offer everyone a “public insurance option” like Medicare and return to the days of the family doctor, coverage can be affordable for all. What is left unsaid, however, is that in this new environment, either the public will have to curb its appetite for specialized services or those services will have to be … uh, “controlled.”

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