Doctors Question Stimulus Impact On Health Care

Thursday, February 12th 2009, 10:31 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Some doctors are sounding the alarm over the new plans for health care in the stimulus bill.  On the surface, it creates a national system for electronic medical records.  But what else could it do?

Nearly 200 pages of the bill address health care, but on Thursday even Senator Tom Coburn's office says they can't get their hands on the current language.  That's part of the concern other doctors have about the bill.

Dr. Lee Schoeffler is an Ophthalmologist and President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.  He's worried about how the stimulus plan will impact healthcare.

"There's a lot of things that are yet to come to the surface and something this big and important that has far reaching implications needs to be looked at not just overnight or over the weekend, it needs to be thoroughly discussed by the people and our elected representatives before you jump in and make a decision," said Dr. Lee Schoeffler.

While the congress works out the final deal and prepares to vote - Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn remains against it.

"This is about spending money we don't have on things we don't need," said Senator Tom Coburn.

Coburn worries the stimulus plan will prescribe how doctors treat patients with the decisions based on cost and made by bureaucrats instead of doctors.

"Allowing government to make these decisions would set us on a dangerous path," said Senator Tom Coburn.

"Tom's up there and knows the score.  Anything that lets the government in between the doctor patient relationship, we don't like," said Dr. Lee Schoeffler.

The stimulus plan mandates doctors start using electronic medical records and creates a system for using the information to determine best practices.

Dr. Schoeffler says that alone is an unwarranted intrusion in patient care that should cause patients and taxpayers to worry.

"It's very, very expensive," said Dr. Lee Schoeffler.

The American Medical Association is supportive of the early versions of the bill and says it won't impact the care doctors can provide individuals.