Drs. Lenin and Marx Calling

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote in to correct Mr. Sullivan's diatribe about doctors not giving back, but here are a few points about his health-care "reform." ["Medical Attention," Insights, Sept. 24, 2009]

Concerning primary care referral to specialists, my patients already know I give better orthopedic care, so why would they go there first? This American Academy of Family Physicians president complains about low reimbursement for spending an hour discussing health issues with a patient when the specialist gets $5,000 for a gallbladder operation. Wow. Where to start?

Okay, as I said, patients know things. They know smoking is bad, being overweight is bad, being sedentary is bad. Yet fatness, lack of fitness, and diabetes are on the rise. Paying doctors more to tell patients this will help health care how? And, the surgical payment for gallbladder removal is about $400 for Medicare and $800 for private insurance. Not quite $5,000 is it? And, he wants to put a freeze on family physician retirements. Yeah, this will help. Is it appropriate to force a professional to continue working? Maybe Drs. Lenin and Marx will take over their practices instead.

By the way, I am one of those Knoxville Academy of Medicine doctors "purported" to give free specialty health care. Oops, another Sullivan myth exposed.

You want health-care reform? Try this. Make fathers pay for their kids' upbringing after DNA testing. Make health insurance more expensive if blood testing reveals smoke products, or if body mass index is off the charts. Put P.E. back in schools. Don't promote marginal students. These personal responsibilities and education measures would improve health care the correct way. People know this. Does Mr. Sullivan?

E. Brantley Burns, M.D.

Knoxville