Why Physicians Won't Unite to 'Rescue' Medicine

Leigh Page


September 04, 2014

In This Article

Is There Anything Physicians Can Do?

Despite the diversity of viewpoints within the profession, there are some steps physicians can take to augment their power with policy-makers and regain control of their profession.

One obvious step is to pursue issues that don't divide the profession. "Organized medicine should stick with issues that all physicians can agree on," Dr. Grumet said. Such issues might include tort reform, abolishing the SGR, opposing expansion of scope of practice, and removing administrative burdens for practices.

However, physicians groups have been pursuing all of these issues for years and have been mostly frustrated. For example, they were in complete lockstep on abolishing the SGR this year and even managed to shepherd a repeal bill into both houses of Congress, but it was defeated in March owing to partisan bickering.

Another strategy would be to find common ground with other power blocs, such as patients' groups, other healthcare professions, or hospitals. But this is also not a new strategy, and nonphysician allies would probably not be interested in supporting physicians' own income issues.

Rather than trying to unite, different groups of physicians might be better off going their separate ways. For instance, the American Academy of Private Physicians was founded in 2002 to represent growing numbers of concierge physicians. Likewise, growing numbers of employed physicians might join such unions as the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and the National Doctors Council. However, very few employed physicians are in unions, and there is little evidence that they are interested in joining them.

Another option might be Dr. Scherz's attempt to take Docs4PatientCare, which started as a single-issue organization against the ACA, and turn it into a broader organization that appeals to practicing physicians. However, many physicians are in favor of the ACA. And even if any new organization could rapidly expand membership, it could take years to be recognized by the outside world.


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