Remedy for “Burnout” Is Opting out, Writes Doctor in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

Tucson, Arizona, UNITED STATES

TUCSON, Ariz., March 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than half the physicians in this country today are reportedly burned out, including nearly two-thirds of physicians in family medicine, urology, physiatry, and radiology, writes Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. He attributes this to increasing abuse by Medicare and other third-party payers. 

Despite promises in the original Medicare legislation, “Medicare interferes with, obstructs, and impedes nearly every aspect of the practice of medicine,” Dr. Huntoon states. Moreover, “close to 90% of all Medicare decisions about whether services are medically necessary are made by employees with only a high school education and no medical background or training, according to a study conducted by the General Accounting Office [now Government Accountability Office] (GAO).” Still worse, “the study also showed that each reviewer processes as many as 400 claims per day, spending an average of 72 seconds per claim.”

“Medicare is ... running out of other people’s money and accounting tricks needed to sustain it,” Dr. Huntoon explains, and it seeks reductions in physicians’ fees, “clawbacks,” and fines for inadvertent errors to prop up the system. Physicians also face threats of prison for administrative errors.

Physicians are increasingly looking for an escape hatch—such as opting out of Medicare, but face both financial and nonfinancial barriers to doing so.

Dr. Huntoon explains the opting-out process in detail, including the effects of new legal and regulatory developments. He also addresses ways to deal with fear of what may happen: “the fence that confines you in the government’s pen.”

He concludes: “To be or not to be free, that is the question. Whether it is immutable fate to continue to accept a conflict of interest with our Medicare patients and suffer the abuse, excessive bureaucracy, and devaluation of services foisted upon us by the government Medicare program. Or, whether it is nobler to opt out of Medicare and reaffirm our professional ethics to serve the best interests of our patients without government interference... .”

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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