Anticipating the release of a study commission report on public benefits in New Jersey that would recommend either curtailing those benefits or making public employees pay more for them union-backed Democrats trotted out a plan that Dr. James Barr, chief medical officer of Optimus Health Care Partners ACO and ready to see patients upon exiting the podium, sees as viable since:
“We’re not treating diseases. We’re not treating members. We’re not treating numbers. We’re treating people,” Barr said. “And these people have concerns, fears, cultures, beliefs, financial and social situations that impact their health. And if we don’t learn that, if we don’t have a relationship them, we’re never going to be able to help them to the degree that we need to.”
He is dangerously wrong.
All of the doctors I know do treat diseases, members, and people though some get paid more for it than others. However there is a vast army of people (ranging from George Norcross statewide to Hale Insurance in Union County) who primarily treat numbers and they share some of their gains with the politicians they support, and sometimes even pick, which is why their interests are protected.
The alternative plan reportedly consists of:
creating a new “patient-centered” health care system similar to one that exists in Vermont, and that would provide better service to patients and ultimately save money. He pitched it as an alternative to the idea that saving money on health care should center around requiring workers to pay more or cutting benefits. “We’ve heard the cost of health care is too expensive and is out of control,” Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said. “What we’re looking to do today is to start work on a concept that will actually improve care and reduce costs. I know that’s hard to believe, but it is doable – it is very possible to get done.”
The three-year pilot program would pay doctors a set base salary and a bonus for good clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. The idea, Sweeney said, is to do away with a “fee for service” model in which doctors have incentives to as many patients as possible. It would be implemented in four or five New Jersey locations, for up to 60,000 public employees.
It’s a silly idea that only gets proposed when the obvious real solutions go against the personal financial interests of the reform proponents.