U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding his vote to repeal the misguided health care bill Congress passed last year. Dr. Coburn introduced his own health care alternative, the "Patients' Choice Act," along with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Devin Nunes (R-CA), five months before the Senate majority produced a bill.
"A vote to repeal this flawed bill is a vote to restore the doctor-patient relationship, which will be violated by this bill. The most personal exchanges in life outside of those within a family are between a patient and their physician. This bill puts Washington politicians and bureaucrats between doctors and patients in ways that will compromise care. Physicians across the country are opposing this bill because they know it will violate their oath to do no harm," Dr. Coburn said, noting a study by Thompson Reuters showing two-thirds of physicians expect the quality of care will decline in the U.S. in the next 5 years.
"The other major flaw with the bill is that it does not address the real problem, which is cost. Until we connect the patient with the purchase of health care we will never see costs decline. We have to put patients, not politicians, at the center of health care and give them the power to purchase their own health care," Dr. Coburn said.
"Putting 16 million people into the broken Medicaid system, as this bill does, will prove that access to a government program does not guarantee access to health care. In the next ten years, we're expected to have a shortage of at least 40,000 primary care doctors. Meanwhile, we know that only 55 percent of physicians accept Medicaid patients because the government's reimbursement rates don't reflect reality. What good is access to a program if there are no doctors to see? This bill will lead to substandard care and turn routine visits into medical emergencies," Dr Coburn said.
"I don't question the motivations of my colleagues who supported this legislation. I'm simply noting, as physician across the country have noted, that the intended consequences of this bill will be severe for patients and families. Congress can either repeal this bill the easy way or the hard way. This vote is only the first step in a long campaign to undo the damage this bill has caused, and will, cause to patients and our health care system," Dr. Coburn said.