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A Doc Drops Out

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Doctor Alan Dappen wasn’t going to take it any more. So he got out.

Eight years ago, he decided that his office would no longer accept Medicare payments. Why? As he tells his patients, “We can’t afford to.” Medicare won’t pay for consultations by phone or email, won’t cover the full cost of a house call, and “barely pays for an office visit.”

Then there’s the regulatory burden. Dappen can’t understand a lot of the regulations. Further, as far as he can tell the folks enforcing them don’t understand many of them either. Yet the bureaucrats can audit a doctor’s paperwork and impose huge fines based on these unclear regs.

Medicare-mired physicians would be more effective if only they didn’t have to worry about complying with arbitrary regulatory dictates all the time. These rules make it harder for doctors to do their jobs. So Dr. Dappen took the risky but more satisfying path of operating in an unhampered market. And, of course, he invited his patients to join him.

Today, in the name of mandatory universal health coverage, the Obama administration wants even more restrictions on medical freedom. Shouldn’t we consider the consequences on the decision-making ability of doctors and patients of current coercive micromanagement when assessing the viability of yet newer coercive schemes?

Dr. Dappen figures he is better off with freedom. You and I are too.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.