February 26, 2010

Doctors Point the Way to Reform

Justin Katz

It should surprise nobody that I see this as evidence that healthcare reform must move in the free-market direction, not the government takeover and dictation direction:

"Something has been discouraging physicians from working the long hours they used to work," [Douglas Staiger, an economics professor at Dartmouth College] said.

The cause? Bureaucracy and limits to their pay.

Payment issues may have played more of a role. The overall decrease in hours coincided with a 25 percent decline in pay for doctors' services, adjusted for inflation. And when the researchers looked closely at U.S. cities with the lowest and highest doctor fees, they found doctors working shorter hours in the low-fee cities and longer hours in the high-fee cities. ...

"There's so much oversight for what we do, so many people we have to answer to and so little of it improves care, it's just driving us all crazy," [Dr. Robert Perlmuter, a Chicago internist,] said.

Officious government meddlers may not believe it, but the rest of us adults can conduct our lives just fine without their assistance. One is hearing murmurs here and there of local officials' wondering whether Rhode Island can move forward with some sort of healthcare reform regardless of what the federal government does. Somehow, though, they've seem disinclined to acknowledge that the General Assembly could eliminate the burdensome mandates right now and immediately improve healthcare quality and costs in the state of Rhode Island.