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The Doctor Becomes a Teacher, Too: Hal Scherz Wins 2011 Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship

On Thursday, The Heritage Foundation awarded Hal Scherz, a pediatric urologist from Atlanta Georgia, its Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship. The award recognizes Scherz’s efforts to educate the public about “the federal government’s bureaucratic destruction of the American health care system through the takeover that came to be known as Obamacare,” said Heritage Vice President Matthew Spalding.

Scherz asked that the $25,000 prize be given to his organization, Docs 4 Patient Care, which has spearheaded opposition to Obamacare within the medical profession. In just two years, the group has grown to over 4,000 doctors and 8,000 supporters, has testified before Congress, and has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. The award was announced at Heritage’s 34th Annual Resource Bank conference, where we caught up with Dr. Scherz to ask him a few questions.

InsiderOnline: What will happen to the practice of medicine if Obamacare remains law?

Hal Scherz: If Obamacare continues, the private practice of medicine in this country will cease to exist. We’re on the road to the extinction of private practices. There’s going to be a consolidation in which hospitals and the government are going to run health care. When that happens, there’ll be limited choices. There’ll be rationing of care. The quality of doctors will diminish. The number of doctors will diminish. The incentives for people to become doctors and for doctors to work hard will go away. We’ll see a deterioration and a Europeanization of our health care system. We don’t even know what that will look like in the future. It’s all very much up in the air, but the prospects are very frightening.

IO: Are those outcomes by design or are they unintended consequences of the law?

HS: I think it’s a little bit of both. One has to wonder whether there is really such a thing as unintended consequences. There’s no question that doctors are frightened right now. For the first time ever more doctors are working for hospitals than are working for themselves. That’s not a good thing. That just means that somebody else—a bigger institution—is insulating doctors and allowing them to make a living. It’s taking away from the doctor/patient relationship, because hospitals are really not interested in patients. Doctors are interested in patients. Hospitals are interested in money, control, and power. And when they are employing doctors and buying up doctor practices there is a diminishing amount of freedom for doctors and worse care for patients as a result.

IO: Do doctors tend to share your views or do they tend to agree with the American Medical Association’s support for Obamacare?

HS: Most doctors agree with my take. The AMA has a self-interest in Obamacare. They receive a large amount of their income from the medical coding system that is a government-sanctioned monopoly. So they are not in a position to buck the system and speak out for fear of losing that enormous income stream that is probably close $100 million annually. They also make their money—this just came out last week—mining doctor data and selling it—to the tune of about $40 million dollars a year.

They make very little money taking care of their constituency. They don’t have a constituency. When less than 20 percent of doctors in the country belong to the organization, how can you say that it’s representative?

IO: How do your patients respond when you do outreach to them on this issue?

HS: Eighty-nine percent of patients like their doctors. And when you tell them that the opportunity for them to see their doctors is going to go away in the future under Obamacare, many of them don’t believe it. But when you present the facts and they are faced with it, then they are completely shocked and appalled and they are concerned. Patients are very appreciative when you start talking about this and give them facts and give them places where they can go and see for themselves that what we’re telling them isn’t opinion. It’s all fact.

IO: So how does Docs4Patient Care plan to fight Obamacare from here on out?

HS: The 2012 elections are pivotal because if President Obama remains in the White House, health care is finished. It’s over. We have to work very hard to make people understand that this health care law means the end of the health care system as they have come to know it. The health care system is not completely broken. There are flaws, but President Obama has completely subverted health care because of two things he said were problems: access and cost.

What has happened is that Obamacare has increased costs. And it’s going to decrease access. There are going to be fewer doctors and there are going to be fewer doctors who are willing to participate in this government health care. All that this plan will do is enable people to wait in line. That’s all it will do. It will not give them better access.

We are already seeing that happen. We’re seeing thousands of senior citizens being turned away from their doctors of 20 years or more because they are going off Medicare. Or we are seeing new Medicare patients who are finding it impossible to find a doctor because doctors are not taking new Medicare patients.

So in the next two years Docs 4 Patient Care plans to build up its ranks. We’re going to form state chapters around the country. We’ve already got four that are up and running, and we’ve another 20 that are in the formative stages. We are going to have boots on the ground for the 2012 elections to help get the information to patients through the power of our offices.

IO: And what do you think are better ways of fixing the health care system?

HS: The problem with Obamacare is that it is a top-down system. It is government-run. President Obama and his supporters believe that the government is better at making health care decisions than patients are, and that is just absolutely flat out wrong. Patients need to be in charge of their health care. Patients need to be the ones who can purchase insurance and get tax credits like employers. Patients need to be the ones to decide who their doctor is going to be and they have to be the ones who decide how they are going to pay for it and not let a third party pay for it. We have to revamp the entire health care delivery model so that people are in charge through high-deductible health savings accounts, so that the first dollar out is their dollar and not the insurance company’s or the government’s. Whoever is controlling the payment of health care is controlling the health care of the individual. That should be the patients and not the government or insurance companies.

Posted on 04/29/11 10:13 AM by Alex Adrianson

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