-by Matthew Moeller.
Due to the tremendous popularity of Dr. Moeller’s original post as well as some of the critiques and questions it raised, Dr. Moeller has written this follow-up post in response.
Thank you to everyone for the positive feedback. Over 57,000 Facebook “likes”, tweets, and newspaper requests over the past week was quite a surprise. I was especially moved by the multiple tweets from hospices, physician groups, and individuals recommending my article. This article really has hit a nerve and shed light on some of the issues at hand in today’s healthcare debate. I am writing a follow up article to further address some issues.
First, I wrote my original letter to illustrate some sacrifices doctors on the front lines of care make. In order for doctors to continue providing the highest quality comprehensive care, we need our leaders/ lawmakers to understand the perspective we face so that the best solution can be found to care for our population. I do not feel that this particular perspective was voiced on Capitol Hill during the health care reform debate. Yes, there are lobbyists, but they are not those who are treating patients and may not know the nuances that individual doctors can provide. In addition, I am concerned about my colleagues in private practice (specialists or primary care doctors) whose livelihood is threatened because of the potential cuts in reimbursement (up to 26%). This measure could force these doctors out of practice simply because their expenses (which rise yearly) are exceeding their declining reimbursement, which has declined steadily over the past several years already. If this does happen, it may force doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients because reimbursement is usually lowest for this group. It will take away the physician-patient relationship that is needed for great medical care. A recent Forbes article explains this. In my opinion, Congress needs the help of doctors who take care of patients daily to give their advice on possible remedies.
Despite these lingering issues, I nevertheless love my profession and my patients. Becoming a doctor was the right choice for me; I was interested in science since I was a little kid and am thankful that I can use my education to help my patients and their families. I have also learned a tremendous amount from my patients. I cannot see myself practicing any other field other than medicine and I am humbled daily serving my patients. I definitely would do it all over again as well because I feel this profession is my calling and I get an enormous amount of personal satisfaction taking care of those in need. Anyways, who would go into medicine in the first place with its long hours, large debt load, delayed earnings, risk of lawsuits, and daily life and death decisions if they didn’t true care about the human race? I am happy to say that most of my colleagues feel the same way. Our concerns rest on the idea that we may not be able to provide quality care to all patients if the tools and resources we need are reduced.
Second, I was trying to speak for ALL doctors, not just GI doctors. People have commented that I was complaining about my salary and the salary of GI doctors. This article was not intended for GI physicians, but, rather, for all physicians. Not all physicians get paid the same and primary care doctors typically get paid significantly less than specialists. The article was a personal anecdote to illustrate some sacrifices of a typical doctor who is paying off his or her loans themselves. I am not complaining about my current compensation. Doctors do have the highest average salary of any other profession despite the financial sacrifices early in our career. But I am concerned about the FUTURE CUTS that may force doctors to
either stop seeing Medicare patients or encourage them to do concierge medicine (which charges a premium to patients for access to the doctor). I have this concern because most of my colleagues in practices have seen their reimbursement cut and their expenses increase. When these two things happen, one either works more hours in the week to make up the difference or their expenses increase until they can no longer afford to see patients without going into debt. This in turn could lead to the decline of quality advanced health care that Americans enjoy. There are numerous articles out there as well that show concierge medicine is growing). Continue reading “Another Letter to Washington, from a Physician on the Front Lines.”