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Doctors concerned over new health care bill

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Members of the medical community are questioning how the health care reform bill will affect them. Chatting with her doctors is more than just nice talk for 60-year-old diabetic, Susan Campo. It is a comfort and a life saver.

"If you don't have insurance it is so expensive to be a diabetic," said Campo.

Like many seniors she is on a fixed income. Campo likes the idea of not being denied health insurance because she has a pre-existing condition. But she gets choked up when at the thought of shortened doctor visits due to the influx of new patients.

"It is going to be harder to get an appointment in a shorter period of time," said Campo. "It concerns me."

"All of these systems are going to force physicians to see 30 to 40 patients a day," said Good Samaritan Hospital internist Dr. Pouya Bahrami.

Dr. Bahrami says under the reform plan 95 percent of patients will be covered, but many will be placed into large managed care plans.

The only way doctors can stay in business is to increase patient volume.

"That is going to lead to medical mistakes. It is going to lead to the lack of care," said Dr. Bahrami. "You are not going to be able to discuss your health issues with your physician in five minutes."

Internist Dr. Tom Horowitz says that is the worst case scenario and it is up to doctors to figure out a balance.

The immediate benefit is that emergency rooms will not be used as primary care centers for the uninsured. That will save hospitals money and keep ER's open, but doctors are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"This takes us a step closer as long as the bureaucracy doesn't try to push us farther away," said Dr. Horowitz.

That bureaucracy could translate into doing less medical tests, which some doctors fear could put them at risk for lawsuits -- a problem the bill doesn't address.

"You want to go see a physician that is relaxed and that is able to discuss your problems with you without having the malpractice issue of over his head," said Dr. Bahrami.