Navigation Links Our Healthcare System Is Hemorrhaging

PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was issued today by -- Congress has made a series of bad decisions that is a major contributing factor to a very serious situation that is decreasing the availability of healthcare, reducing access and dramatically adding to healthcare costs. Americans' concerns about access to physicians have shown a significant increase according to recent polls. Access difficulty is directly related to the overall shortage of doctors in the specialty of primary care (internal medicine and family practice). Primary care physicians not only treat patient's medical problems but also serve as the "gatekeepers" for hospitalizing patients and referring them to other specialists as needed. As older doctors are retiring there are few young primary care physicians coming out of training to replace them.

Instead of choosing primary care, physicians in residency training are choosing other specialties which are procedure-oriented and are reimbursed by Medicare at a higher rate. Medical liability insurance costs have sky rocketed over the past ten years and the current congress refuses to even schedule hearings about this acute problem which is driving costs up and threatening our health care system. Many congressmen and senators of the party controlling Congress receive major contributions from the trial lawyers to their re-election campaigns, which is a powerful force that physicians can't overcome.

Because of the constant threat of lawsuits, doctors are forced to practice "defensive" medicine and order many tests and procedures than they ordinarily would not have ordered to evaluate the patient's condition. This significantly drives up the cost of healthcare and makes buying healthcare insurance much more expensive. No other nation in the world has an organized group like our trial lawyers who dramatically drive up healthcare costs. A major study by the non-profit, non-partisan Pacific Research Institute estimates that America wastes $589 billion dollars each year from excessive tort litigation.

Congress has not given primary care physicians adjustments in reimbursements for inflation as their costs, especially medical liability insurance, have dramatically increased. One of the best ways to control costs is to have patients treated by primary care physicians, rather than emergency rooms of hospitals.

Both Democratic and Republican candidates for president have proposed extensive programs to expand the coverage of heath care and one of them has promised to deliver to all Americans the same level of healthcare enjoyed by members of the US Senate. The reality is that candidates can promise, but congress has the final say because it writes the laws and authorizes spending. How can we expand health care or even expect to maintain our current health care system without physicians?

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Dr. Traverse, the editor of, has over 20 years experience working with hospitals and health care systems in the United States and around the world. For the past two years he has been a member of a medical care commission focusing his studies on the needs of patients, the shortage of doctors and nurses and improving the quality of care delivered by hospitals.

Dr. Traverse is currently writing a series of articles on his studies and findings about the US healthcare system and how it can be improved.
Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link. Norman Traverse, MD

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