Lee Kirksey, MD  
Cleveland , OH

Specialties: Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD

Interests: vascular, specialist, treatment options
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Obama Administration halts plans to spy on doctors based upon strong national feedback

Jul 03, 2011 - 11 comments

obama administration




healthcare reform


insurance reform

The Obama administration has decided to halt plans to survey physicians offices largely due to negative feedback that the administration has received and the longterm political implications.  Issues that affect Americans only change when individuals voice their feedback in forums like we have here on  Medhelp. However, this is not the last of this issue.  Please share via facebook and twitter this posting to continue to grow the feedback on this issue. Regardless of how people feel about the core issue, most don't like the "spying" connotation. We all know that if they are spying on our neighbor, they are probably spying on us.

Administration Halts Survey of Making Doctor Visits
Published: June 28, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which “mystery shoppers” posing as patients would call doctors’ offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments.

U.S. Plans Stealth Survey on Access to Doctors (June 27, 2011) “We have determined that now is not the time to move forward with this research project,” the Department of Health and Human Services said late Tuesday.

The decision, after criticism from doctors and politicians, represents an abrupt turnabout. On Sunday night, officials at the health department and the White House staunchly defended the survey as a way to measure access to primary care, and insisted that it posed no threat to privacy.


Health policy experts have long expressed concern about a shortage of primary care doctors, including family physicians and internists. The shortage, they say, could become more serious if, as President Obama hopes, more than 30 million people gain insurance coverage under the health care law passed last year.

Having coverage is not the same as having ready access to care — a fact demonstrated in Massachusetts, which has come closer than any other state to the goal of universal coverage. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that about half of family doctors and internists were not accepting new patients.

Plans for the federal survey were devised by the office of the assistant health secretary for planning and evaluation, Sherry A. Glied, and the government retained a big survey research company to help conduct it. Ms. Glied declined Tuesday to respond to questions about cancellation of the survey.

Administration officials evidently concluded that the survey could be a political liability. But Christian J. Stenrud, a Health and Human Services spokesman, said, “Politics did not play a role in the decision” Tuesday.

Doctors and many Republican lawmakers criticized the project, after a New York Times article about it on Monday.

“The cost and proposed clandestine method of collecting information from physician offices are questionable,” said a letter to the administration drafted Monday by Senator Mark Steven Kirk, Republican of Illinois. Mr. Kirk demanded answers to 12 questions about the survey.

Mr. Kirk asked why the survey was needed, since, he said, “there have been a number of reputable studies that confirmed many patients on Medicaid and Medicare cannot find a doctor to see them.”

Source NY Times.com

Obama Administration to spy on Physicians

Jun 26, 2011 - 42 comments







medicare reform


obama administration

As we continue in what can only be characterized as a tumultuous time in healthcare the NY Times reports that the Obama administration is scheduled to role out a "secret shopping" program to investigate physician availability and whether there is any biased treatment against those with Medicare or Medicaid.

U.S. Plans Stealth Survey on Access to DoctorsBy ROBERT PEAR
Published: June 26, 2011
WASHINGTON — Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of “mystery shoppers” to pose as patients, call doctors’ offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it.

The administration says the survey will address a “critical public policy problem”: the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates.

Federal officials predict that more than 30 million Americans will gain coverage under the health care law passed last year. “These newly insured Americans will need to seek out new primary care physicians, further exacerbating the already growing problem of P.C.P. shortages in the United States,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a description of the project that it submitted to the White House.

Plans for the survey have riled many doctors because the secret shoppers will not identify themselves as working for the government.

“I don’t like the idea of the government snooping,” said Dr. Raymond Scalettar, an internist in Washington. “It’s a pernicious practice — Big Brother tactics, which should be opposed.”

According to government documents obtained from Obama administration officials, the mystery shoppers will call medical practices and ask if doctors are accepting new patients and, if so, how long the wait would be. The government is eager to know whether doctors give different answers to callers depending on whether they have public insurance, like Medicaid, or private insurance, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Dr. George J. Petruncio, a family doctor in Turnersville, N.J., said: “This is not a way to build trust in government. Why should I trust someone who does not correctly identify himself?”

Dr. Stephen C. Albrecht, a family doctor in Olympia, Wash., said: “If federal officials are worried about access to care, they could help us. They don’t have to spy on us.”

Dr. Robert L. Hogue, a family physician in Brownwood, Tex., asked: “Is this a good use of tax money? Probably not. Everybody with a brain knows we do not have enough doctors.”

In response to the drumbeat of criticism, a federal health official said doctors did not need to worry because the data would be kept confidential. “Reports will present aggregate data, and individuals will not be identified,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan before its final approval by the White House.

Administration officials said the survey would yield an enormous benefit to the government while imposing an extremely limited burden on doctors.

The new health care law includes several provisions intended to increase the supply of primary care doctors, and officials want to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of those policies.

Federal officials said the initial survey would cost $347,370. Dr. Hogue said the money could be better spent on the training or reimbursement of primary care doctors.

Most doctors accept Medicare patients, who are 65 and older or disabled. But many say they do not regard the government as a reliable business partner because it has repeatedly threatened to cut the fees paid to doctors treating such patients. Congress usually steps in at the last minute to avert such cuts.

In many parts of the country, Medicaid, the program for low-income people, pays so little that many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients. This could become a more serious problem in 2014, when the new health law will greatly expand eligibility for Medicaid.

Access to care has been a concern in Massachusetts, which provides coverage under a state program cited by many in Congress as a model for President Obama’s health care overhaul.

In a recent study, the Massachusetts Medical Society found that 53 percent of family physicians and 51 percent of internal medicine physicians were not accepting new patients. When new patients could get appointments, they faced long waits, averaging 36 days to see family doctors and 48 days for internists.

Source NY Times

New oral anticoagulant, Pradaxa, may replace coumadin lower stroke riks

May 30, 2011 - 0 comments

atrial fibrillation







PRADAXA is a prescription blood-thinning medicine used to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem. With atrial fibrillation, part of the heart does not beat the way it should. This can cause blood clots to form, increasing your risk of a stroke. PRADAXA lowers the chance of blood clots forming in your body.

The drug may prove a new option for patients who now use standard blood thinners such as warfarin to control the heart condition.

More than 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the heart's two upper chambers beat quickly and out of sync, the FDA said Wednesday in a news release.

Pradaxa (dabigatran) is an anti-clotting drug that inhibits an enzyme involved in blood clotting. Clinical studies of the drug found that when compared with warfarin, people with atrial fibrillation had fewer strokes on Pradaxa than those on warfarin, the FDA said.

One such trial was presented in February at the American Stroke Association annual meeting in San Antonio. It included more than 3,600 patients with atrial fibrillation and a previous stroke who were randomly chosen to receive warfarin, a low dose of Pradaxa (110 milligrams) twice a day or a higher dose (150 mg) of Pradaxa twice a day for about two years.

The rate of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, often called "mini- stroke") in those taking warfarin was about 2.7% a year and 2.3% a year for those taking Pradaxa, not a significant difference.

However, the lower dose of Pradaxa caused less bleeding and was easier to manage than warfarin, a famously difficult drug to administer and monitor.

"In contrast to warfarin, dabigatran is given in a fixed dose twice daily independent of body weight, sex, food, whatever, and you don't need to monitor the coagulation system," study author Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener, chairman of neurology at University Hospital in Essen, Germany, said during a news conference held during the meeting.

More allegations of unneccesary use of coronary stents-Now in Texas

Nov 29, 2010 - 1 comments

Heart Attack


Coronary Stents


Myocardial Infarction


medical malpractice


vascular surgeon


vascular surgery

More controversial developments and allegations of unneccesary use of coronary stents are being raised in a Texas medicla community. The case is similar to an ongoing investigation in Baltimore and other areas. It raises great concern about who is responsible for the direct oversight of physician activities. Medicine is still an art and sometimes there are several ways to treat a patient. There are also wrong ways to treat.

Read the story and post comments about how you think patients should manage the uncertainty. I have been a patient and I have had the same concerns.

More 'unnecessary stenting' allegations—this time in Texas
November 25, 2010 | Shelley Wood
Austin, TX and Towson, MD - Questions about unnecessary stent procedures have reared their head again, this time in Texas. The Texas Medical Board alleges that Austin/El Paso interventional cardiologist Dr Samuel J DeMaio failed to meet the standard of care in his treatment of nine patients.

According to a Complaint filed by the Board on August 17, 2010 [1], DeMaio committed a number of standard-of-care violations by placing multiple stents in areas of insignificant or moderate disease; performing multiple angiograms in patients who were asymptomatic and had normal stress tests; unnecessarily implanting an ICD in two patients; failing to adequately inform patients of risks; and failing to obtain informed consent for the off-label use of a device in one patient.

http://www.theheart.org/article/1156973.do  To read the entire article visit heart wire and view