Dear Congressman Brooks,
As a practicing family physician, I plead for help against what I can best characterize as Washington's war against doctors.
The medical profession has never before remotely approached today's stress, work hours, wasted costs, decreased efficiency, and declining ability to focus on patient care.
In our community alone, at least 6 doctors have left patient care for administrative positions, to start a concierge practice, or retire altogether.
Doctors are smothered by destructive regulations that add costs, raise our overhead and 'gum up the works,' making patient treatment slower and less efficient, thus forcing doctors to focus on things other than patient care and reduce the number of patients we can help each day.
I spend more time at work than at any time in my 27 years of practice and more of that time is spent on administrative tasks and entering useless data into a computer rather than helping sick patients.
Doctors have been forced by ill-informed bureaucrats to implement electronic medical records ("EMR") that, in our four doctor practice, costs well over $100,000 plus continuing yearly operational costs . . . all of which does not help take care of one patient while driving up the cost of every patient's health care.
Washington's electronic medical records requirement makes our medical practice much slower and less efficient, forcing our doctors to treat fewer patients per day than we did before the EMR mandate.
To make matters worse, Washington forces doctors to demonstrate 'meaningful use' of EMR or risk not being fully paid for the help we give.
In addition to the electronic medical records burden, we face a mandate to use the ICD-10 coding system, a new set of reimbursement diagnosis codes.
The current ICD-9 coding system uses roughly 13,000 codes. The new ICD-10 coding system uses a staggering 70,000 new and completely different codes, thus dramatically slowing doctors down due to the unnecessary complexity and sheer numbers of codes that must be learned.
The cost of this new ICD-10 coding system for our small practice is roughly $80,000, again driving up health care costs without one iota of improvement in health care quality.
Finally, doctors face nonpayment by patients with ObamaCare. These patients may or may not be paying their premiums and we have no way of verifying this. No business can operate with that much uncertainty.
On behalf of the medical profession, I ask that Washington stop the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a better law written with the input of real doctors who will actually treat patients covered by it.
America has enjoyed the best health care the world has ever known. That health care is in jeopardy because physicians cannot survive Washington's 'war on doctors' without relief.
Eventually the problems for doctors will become problems for patients, and we are all patients at some point.
Sincerely yours, Dr. Marlin Gill of Decatur, Alabama