Skip to comments.Thanks to ObamaCare, You May Soon Get Medical Treatment from People Who Lack Medical Training
Posted on 03/08/2013 7:58:04 AM PST by SeekAndFind
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, has transformed the healthcare landscape across America. Though not yet fully implemented, it is already changing the way we buy and access healthcare, mostly in negative ways. Premiums keep going up. Doctors are speeding up their retirements to avoid having to deal with the law. Its push to digitize our medical records may expose Americans to violations of our privacy, and even to misdiagnoses as doctors and nurses are forced to use templates rather than handwritten notes to describe the ailments patients present them.
ObamaCare is also creating chaos in how states deal with which medical personnel are allowed to perform different tasks. The Department of Health and Human Services essentially writes much of the law on the fly, and state legislatures and health departments find themselves regulating between the voluminous laws many gaps. Chaos presents opportunities, and into those opportunities, some say, consortia of health practitioners are stepping, to take advantage.
Specifically, two groups nurse practitioners and optometrists are moving to increase their medical taskings to include many typically done by MDs, without obtaining the years of training that MDs obtain.
Taking the second group first, though most Americans dont realize it, there is a vast difference in training between optometrists and ophthalmologists. Optometrists typically undergo four years of training to become certified. Some optometry schools do not even require a college degree. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, must finish college, must finish medical school, and must finish additional internships, residency, and specialization study that can all add up to 12 to 15 years of training.
But optometry groups are moving in California and other states to take on the duties now performed by ophthalmologists and other medical doctors. Kentucky and Oklahoma are among the states that are set to conflate optometrists as if they are equally trained. Optometrist groups are even lobbying, which means donating to politicians, to enable themselves to become primary healthcare providers, monitoring blood pressure and many other conditions far afield of vision. This can and has led to problems for patients.
I spoke with a surgeon who teaches at a major southern university this week on the subject of how ObamaCare is enabling the blurring of lines between eye doctors.
It is bringing massive, sweeping changes in how health care is delivered and paid for. Optometrists want to be equal to medical doctors. They are positioning themselves to expand their scope into primary care delivery and even surgery.
You do not want people who are not trained in medical procedures to perform them, the surgeon told me. But optometry schools are positioning themselves to be on a par with medical doctors. To be primary care physicians. Optometrists are positioning themselves to be able to charge as much for services as a medical doctor.
The fees charged are key to the story. If optometrists and nurse practitioners can get states to see them on a par with MDs, they can charge fees on a par with MDs, and they can expand their practices to take on revenue-generating services that most states do not currently allow them to perform.
They just dont know what they dont know, the surgeon told me. They have less training, which will end up costing us more in health care. How? More highly trained medical doctors with more experience will tend to order less lab testing than less-trained and experienced people will. More testing means more cost. And along with that increased cost, less training will lead to more errors.
Dr. [David] Parkes experience included treating a man whose skin tag was excised by an optometrist. Nine months later the patient came to the university medical center with an invasive, substantive squamous cell carcinoma that required a massive reconstructive surgery. We asked the patient, Whyd you let him do that? He replied, Well hes a doctor, he had on a white coat and he said he could.
In another case, an elderly patient with severe end-stage glaucoma could only be controlled surgically through a technique called filtering blebs. She went to an optometrist who said to the patient, Mrs. Jones, you have cysts on your eyes, I should take care of those now, and he proceeded to excise them, completely undoing the surgery.
In the end it scares me, quite frankly, says Dr. Parke.
The surgeon I spoke with added: They want to cut on eyelids and they want to use needles to inject in and around the eye. They want to manage complex disorders of the eye. They want to prescribe systemic medications like anti-viral oral medications for viruses, specifically for shingles, which people can get in their eye and can require corneal specialists. But once again, they havent seen those kind of patients, they havent managed those kinds of patients. You cant do a refresher course when you havent had the basic course. The surgeon added that less-trained doctors and nurse practitioners can end up removing objects that should be biopsied for cancer, but due to a lack of training, no biopsy is done.
Case in point: young Victoria Patterson of South Carolina, who suffered a misdiagnosis from her optometrist in 2006 that could have killed her. A second opinion from a pediatric ophthalmologist corrected the misdiagnosis, enabling her to get the treatment that she needed.
Another case in point: the California veterans who went blind under the care of optometrists rather than MDs.
A Veterans Administration probe that found eight veterans suffered potentially preventable vision loss while under the care of optometrists at a Northern California VA facility is prompting medical groups to call for a state investigation.
The groups sent a petition Wednesday to the California Department of Consumer Affairs seeking an evaluation of the care received by the veterans at VA Palo Alto. The patients had glaucoma, a class of eye diseases that can lead to blindness.
The California Medical Association, California Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons and American Glaucoma Society want the state to suspend a new state law set to take effect in January that would expand optometrists ability to care for glaucoma patients.
Its the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between optometrists, who have four years of training, and ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors, over who should be allowed to treat the disease.
This illustrates what can happen when people who arent qualified treat glaucoma, said James Ruben, a pediatric ophthalmologist who is president of the Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.
That was in 2009, before ObamaCare. The presidents signature law has only made the situation worse.
In an ironic twist, ObamaCares chaos is helping foster the charge to increase roles for less-trained medical personnel. Over time, if more states allow optometrists and nurse practitioners to deliver MD level training, costs to patients will increase, not decrease, as the president and his Democratic Party promised the law would do.
My surgeon source is not surprised.
We knew this when ObamaCare was passed, and we watched it unfold.
Were still watching it all unfold, finding out what was in that law long after it was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans.
“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV. Mostly in Obamacare commercials on the steps of the White Hut”.
I remember the fellow travelers were very proud of the “barefoot doctors” in China and Cuba back in the Cold War days, and liked to compare their raw numbers to American doctors for propaganda purposes. The same bunch is obviously still at it.
Oh, indeed. Check out a Rush TV clip from 1995 for proof. Click Here
Basically “same song, different jukebox,” although Bronco Bama makes even the Clintons look like amateurs although if there is a rift, I would not take the “Arkansas Mafia” lightly.
Hey, we have politicians running the country with no job experience or qualifications. If they can run a whole country, why can’t non doctors deal with a few paltry open heart surgeries
>>>The fees charged are key to the story. If optometrists and nurse practitioners can get states to see them on a par with MDs, they can charge fees on a par with MDs, and they can expand their practices to take on revenue-generating services that most states do not currently allow them to perform.
Bingo. Medical Doctors have been a coddle, protected vocation ever since the “Flexner Report” of 1910, which shut down many private medical schools around the country and permitted only “government approved” ones to remain open, thus limiting the supply of doctors, driving up fees, and using government to forcibly limit the kinds of choices patients would like to have regarding their own health. Doctors are simply unhappy that non-MD healthcare providers are starting to muscle in on their income.
Obviously, if a healthcare provider is not an MD but claims to be so, then he is committing fraud and should be punished for it. But I don’t think that’s what concerns the author of this article and his surgeon friend. It’s obvious to me especially after having studied the views of Milton Friedman on this issue closely that they are unhappy about the lack of government *protection* of their market share.
Sorta’ on topic. My dog had an eye injury. The regular vet treated her but she didn’t get any better. So, after charging me $150 she sent me to a dog opthalmologist. I did’t know they existed either. He charged me $165 and reccommended a procedure where he scratches the cornea with a needle to get the cells to start growing to promote healing of the injury. The charge was $1,385. I told him I’d get a second oppinion. He didn’t like that. We took the dog to see another dog opthalmologist who is the opthalmologist on call for Texas A&M. She did the same procedure for $100 and the dog’s eye healed.
So, the first vet simply took my money. The second tried to rip me off. I finally found an honest and capable vet but I still spent $315 on quacks and crooks.
This is on dogs. Can you imagine what people will be going through?
Am in training currently to be an NP. I don’t purport to be a physician, and I don’t ever want to be one. But many NP’s are in practice now and doing a fine job ...they are in arrangements where they consult on the hard cases with an on-site a physician, depending on the state regulations. The ones I’ve trained with have huge patient loads.
NP’s really can treat the everyday stuff — ear infections, colds, sore throats, etc. They function as physician extenders ....but ALL of them charge the SAME rate as a physician under “incident to” billing — the doc gets paid, and then doles out payment to the NP as his employee. In all honesty, this is charging society the same amount of money for care given by people with very different qualifications.
Perhaps if they just did away with all supervision of NP’s and just allowed NP’s to charge at their own rates, a true free market situation could evolve. You want to see a doc? You pay for it ....you feel an NP could handle it ...enjoy the lesser costs.
Not all NP’s are equal, and neither are all docs. With anything else, you do your research and go with whom best meets your individual needs. But, I’m sure Obamacare will take all of that great choice away and we’ll just be left with whomever is still standing.
You obviously knows NOTHING about optometrists, as shown in your lack of knowledge in the inaccuracies stated. Let me clear up a few things for you. Optometry school and medical school are BOTH 4 years after college. The difference? Optometry school teaches about eyes and ocular disease the whole time. Medical school teaches about the body and you are NOT an eye specialist when you graduate. Optometry school includes 3 years of class, and medical school only includes 2 years of classes. So who are better primary eyecare specialists? Optometrists. Who are trained to be eye surgeons? Ophthalmologists after completing surgical residencies. Optometrists ARE trained to perform minor surgical procedures. Not over a couple of weeks or months, but YEARS in optometry school. We are trained in lasers, injections, and many superficial surgical techniques. We would never consider undertaking major intraocular surgery. You are very misinformed on the training of your eye doctors, apparently. Optometrists are trained physicians too, certified to do injections (nurses do injections) and trained in laser procedures. Medicare classifies us as physicians and reimburses us accordingly. Hope this helps to make up for your ignorance.
Don’t know who this “you” you are referring to is in your post. But if it’s to me, then you’re obviously talking to the wrong person.
I only post the article, your argument is with the author.