Monday, September 21, 2009

Health Care Policy Debate

Our discussion of food takes place during a heated health care policy debate. I highly recommend this op-ed piece by Michael Pollan published in the New York Times. Pollan foresees a battle between the health insurance industry and the food industry, a clash of the titans if ever there were one! Here's the link:

Also, here is an email I wrote to President Obama, with copies to Senator John Kerry and Congressman Michael Capuano:

Dear Mr. President,

I am a loyal Democrat who voted for you and supports universal health care. I am a psychologist in the private practice of psychotherapy and almost all of my patients use health insurance.

So you can imagine how disappointed I am when I hear you criticize doctors for making health care decisions for patients based on how much they will be reimbursed by insurance companies. I know that you are commenting on the fee-for-service strategy but you end up insulting doctors.

And when you say these things you sound uncharacteristically ignorant because, first, most doctors are honorable and make decisions based on what their patients require, and second, when you talk about a doctor deciding between prescribing medication or performing surgery, you ignore the obvious fact that the same doctor would not be providing these different services and thus decision making based on reimbursement does not make sense.

One more thing . . . you have spoken a lot about lifestyle changes that would make Americans healthier and cut health care costs, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and exercising more. However, I have not heard you speak about how these changes are to be accomplished. Clearly, if admonitions by primary care doctors to quit smoking were effective, millions of Americans would have quit years ago. Behavioral changes like these are supported by behavioral health clinicians, mental health providers such as psychologists. Please acknowledge us in the future.

Thank you for your attention and good luck with your efforts to make health care universal.

Maureen McCormick, Ph.D.

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