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New Officers Speak Out Part 1

Newly elected CMS leaders voice their opinions on key issues
By Cheryl England

BACK IN September, the Chicago Medical Society's new leaders took charge. Several such as Vemuri Murthy, MD, and A. Jay Chauhan, DO, were already officers. Others such as Victor Romano, MD, are new to the elected leadership. Here we have a conversation with some of the leaders including President Vemuri Murthy, MD; Secretary A. Jay Chauhan, DO; Chair of the Council Christine Bishof, MD; and Vice Chair of the Council Victor Romano, MD.  Here’s what they have to say about key issues in healthcare today.

Most everyone agrees that Obamacare has flaws. In a repeal and replace scenario, what would you like to see happen?

Dr. Murthy: We really need to understand that the state of U.S. healthcare is nebulous. Because we, as physicians, care for patients on a daily basis, we need to be able to sit down at the same table as policymakers and go through each and every point of policy including funding, basic healthcare and working conditions. It’s a very difficult goal, but we need to look at the whole picture, not just a few pieces. Medical societies need to be taken seriously because our members are the providers of healthcare.

Dr. Bishof: Unfortunately, the system has become so complex and dysfunctional after the advent of Obamacare, I’m not sure it can be fixed without a complete repeal. The intent of Obamacare was good, but its implementation was poor. While promising to cover essential health benefits, many people are left with outrageous premiums and no meaningful access to care due to extremely narrow networks. I think this can only be fixed with a total restructuring of the insurance market with the all the stakeholders at the table. We need to get back to the basics and get insurance (public and private) out of the exam room. Healthcare is about healing and the patient-doctor relationship, not EHRs, billing, the two-midnight rule, prior authorizations, and unproven metrics masquerading as indicators of quality care.

Dr. Chauhan: Frankly, the ship needs to be righted. Those who promulgated the ACA rightfully acknowledged that the law was imperfect and required adjustments during and after its implementation. If a new piece of legislation is created, I am under the impression that there would be preservation or parallel features in the “replacement.” Therefore, it seems like the discussion regarding repeal versus replacement is semantic, or you can call it brinksmanship (depending upon your point of view), and unfortunately, it is drawing energy away from fixing the healthcare system in a material way.

Dr. Romano: The big problem with Obamacare is that healthy people pay into the system and end up taking care of the people who do not buy insurance but get care anyway. For example, I took care of a 35-year-old patient who fell down stairs and broke his tibia. Of course, we are going to take care of him, but he had gone 10 years without paying into the system. Even before Obamacare, people without insurance were responsible for paying their bills, but they went bankrupt, so they couldn’t pay anyway. This needs to be fixed.

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