Monday, July 13, 2009

Obama's New Surgeon General Eschewed Pay for Performance

President Obama’s new Surgeon General would not change a thing under pay for performance (P4P), a foundational element of his health care reform plans. Consider her stance after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her clinic in coastal Alabama:

Dr. Regina Benjamin, 49, had laid out $800 to open her family-practice clinic in this impoverished community in 1990, and many thousands more to keep it going. If people couldn't pay -- and many couldn't -- she treated them for free. Clearly, she wasn't in it for the money. But now her head swirled as she stared into the ruins of her life's dream. Then she steeled herself: I can be sad and depressed later.

Dr. Benjamin eschewed financial rewards while practicing as a primary care physician. She wouldn't be enticed by bribe schemes. Here's what's odd. Obama’s P4P scheme is more in line with Richard Scott’s Columbia/HCA which incentivized providers with pay. HCA hospitals and doctors, like Wall Street executives, lied, cheated and stole to maximize incentive compensation.

Obama’s plans have nothing to do with the New Yorker article he loves or the Surgeon General’s story he told this morning.

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