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“It would probably affect me in a positive way, because I live in a rural town where the unemployment rate is significant. My county has a 25 percent uninsured rate. If you believe there should be universal health coverage, then there has to be a public option. Physicians like myself in rural America take care of a lot of patients who can’t pay us and don’t have insurance. In general, I think it would probably be a financial gain for me and other rural physicians.” Michael J. Casey, MD; Klamath Falls, Ore.

AAOS Now

Published 10/1/2009

Surgeon on the street

If a public option was implemented as part of healthcare reform, how would it affect your practice?

“It would probably affect me in a positive way, because I live in a rural town where the unemployment rate is significant. My county has a 25 percent uninsured rate. If you believe there should be universal health coverage, then there has to be a public option. Physicians like myself in rural America take care of a lot of patients who can’t pay us and don’t have insurance. In general, I think it would probably be a financial gain for me and other rural physicians.” Michael J. Casey, MD; Klamath Falls, Ore.
“I’m currently completing a fellowship. I don’t have a practice yet, but I think it depends on which model the government chooses to use in terms of how the public would have access to health care. I think right now there is a physician shortage, so healthcare is traded like a very valuable commodity. Personally, I hate to see patients suffer with disease longer than they necessarily should before they are able to seek treatment.” Michael J. Palmer, MD; Providence, R.I.
“We already have public health care in Medicare, and people were really against that when it started. I feel like sometimes with Medicare I’m giving away my services and we don’t get properly reimbursed, but I also think that we’re going to end up having to have something like that to be at the same level as the rest of the world. So I’m not totally against [a public option], even though I think it will affect my pocketbook in a negative manner.” Anne J. Miller, MD; Englewood, N.J.
“I don’t think it would necessarily affect how I practice. We must first decide whether we want to provide health care for everybody, ala a ‘right’ to health care. If you accept that premise, some form of generally available rudimentary healthcare option makes sense. I would certainly favor reform of our current system, but I have a general distrust for government programs that may squander money or become subject to political pressures. I think that’s the genesis of skepticism regarding a public option.” Craig C. Newland, MD; Liberty, Mo.

On September 3–5, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand held its annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. AAOS Now asked attendees about how a public option might affect their practices. Here’s what they said: