Stacking the Deck Against Patients

October 14, 2015

**To receive this commentary directly to your email, click the "subscribe to the Health Freedom eNews" button above.


There's trouble ahead for doctors and patients. Last Friday, the eleven members of the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee were announced. It includes seven physicians to advise HHS on how to pay doctors differently. Republicans established the committee in the “Doc Fix” bill (MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015), which President Obama happily signed because it expanded Obamacare controls.
CCHF opposed MACRA here and here in press releases, and here in the eNews. Even the Medicare actuary warned Congress that the new payment system would be worse for doctors than the hated SGR payment system MACRA repealed.
Whatever is bad for doctors will not be good for patients.
MACRA effectively ends physician payment for actual care provided. Starting in 2019, bonuses will be added or penalties deducted from physician reimbursement based on “value,” “quality,” “clinical improvement,” “resource use,” and “meaningful use” of EHRs – as defined by government. This will encourage rationing of care.
The seven physicians are insiders. Or perhaps a better descriptor is “turncoat.” A turncoat “shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party." Practicing physicians won't have a real voice. MACRA prohibits more than five “providers of services”  -- less than half -- as committee members.
The seven members with M.D. behind their names (only three appear to be "providers of services" in some capacity) will give the appearance of a committee whose decisions will be in the best interest of patients -- unless you look closer.  At least four of the doctors specialize in public health or “population-based health,” a fancy name for national health care that is antithetical to ethical, individualized patient care:
  • Kavita Patel, M.D. – Practicing internal medicine; senior fellow at liberal Brookings Institute, former Director of Policy at the White House; former Deputy Staff Director for Health for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy; and board member of National Commission on Physician Payment Reform.
  • Rhonda M. Medows, M.D. – Executive Vice President of Population Health at Providence Health & Services; formerly served on committee of America’s Health Insurance Plans; Formerly employed by UnitedHealth Group, former Secretary of FL Agency for Health Care and Commissioner of GA Dept. of Community Health. No longer appears to be practicing family medicine.
  • Jeffrey Bailet, M.D. – President of a medical group he expanded to 1,100 employed physicians; Secretary of American Medical Group Association; no longer appears to be practicing.
  • Paul Casale, M.D., MPH –Cardiologist with master’s degree in public health; serves as Chair of the Data Systems Committee of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council; employed by hospital as Medical Director of Quality.
  • Robert Berenson, M.D. – Senior fellow of liberal Urban Institute; Board member of an ACA population-based Accountable Care Organization (ACO), former director in Medicare administration; No longer practices medicine.
  • Tim Ferris, M.D. – Practices primary care internal medicine; Senior Vice President for Population Health Management at Partners’ HealthCare; member of federal Health IT Quality Measures Workgroup.
  • Grace Terrell, M.D., MMM – President and CEO of a multi-specialty group; President and CEO of a population health management company focused on shifting to “value-based medicine”; has master’s degree in medical management; does not appear to be still practicing.
These MDs are biased toward managed care and outside controls. Expect recommendations that reward doctors who agree to exchange their professional, ethical and Hippocratic obligations to patients for the financial benefits of complying with standardized treatment protocols, data reporting, and the “population-based” national health care agenda.
Working with you to protect the land of the free,
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder
P.S. I have an urgent request! Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has invited me to attend special 2-day event, which includes “a full day of discussion at my Chairman’s Office in the Rules Committee.” CCHF needs to be at this important meeting, but it’s not in our budget. Please donate online, call with a credit card (651-646-8935) or mail a check to the address at the bottom of this email.