Health Care Reform: Time For A Second Opinion

As a family physician, I read your proposal for health care reform with great interest ("A prescription for reform," Social Issues, Oct. 7). While it has significant merit, I would offer several comments. The estimate that 30% of care is unnecessary may be true, but the suggestion that this is due primarily to physician greed is not. I work for a nonprofit clinic: I'm paid a salary, and therefore I have no incentive to overtreat. However, I often find myself ordering tests that aren't medically necessary or admitting patients who could be managed outside the hospital because of patient pressure and to protect myself or the emergency room physician from litigation. Malpractice reform, with a cap on pain and suffering awards and decision-making by an arbitration panel, is absolutely necessary for any health care reform package.

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