Two Doctors Share Their Expectations For Health Reform

Two doctors with over 30 years of experience spoke with National Public Radio about how medicine has changed over their careers, and what they expect to see come out of the current health reform debate.

Dr. Greg Darrow, a family physician from New Mexico who favors a single-payer system, said the demands of the business-side of his group practice often interfere with the quality of his care. "Leave me alone, I know what I do best, which is to take good care of people," Darrow said. Sometimes, patients interfere, too, by demanding care they may not need, a pattern he blames on direct marketing by pharmaceutical companies and newly available technologies. In one scenario, Darrow envisions himself recommending ice for a patient's twisted knee, while the patient requests an MRI.

Dr. George Knaysi, a cancer surgeon from Virginia, says he believes "most people feel health care is a right, not a privilege," but that the prospects of rationing in health reform make him uncomfortable with some reform proposals. He anticipates the creation of a government-run insurance plan, but adds, "I think there are too many people in this country who are middle class and upper-middle class who are not going to be willing to sit through long waiting lines." Rising costs – which Knaysi says haven't kept pace with reimbursements – will eventually force the American health system to squeeze administrative costs and limit care options to remain sustainable. However, he anticipates a balancing act to accommodate patients who want to pay out of pocket for the most expensive treatments (Block, 6/30).

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