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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paging Herseth Sandlin: Doctors Love Public Option!

Doctors are probably best positioned to tell us whether a public option on health insurance is a good idea. What do they think of Uncle Sam insurance?

In a survey conducted throughout this long, hot political summer, 73% of doctors said they want a public option. 63% want the public option alongside current pricate insurers; 10% bite the bullet and say they'd take a system where there is nothing but public health insurance.

Oh, but you can't trust surveys. They must have interviewed only hippie doctors in San Francisco, right?

The researchers say they found strong support for a public option among all categories of doctors. "We even saw that support being the same whether physicians lived in rural areas or metropolitan areas," says Federman.

"Whether they lived in southern regions of the United States or traditionally liberal parts of the country," says Keyhani, "we found that physicians, regardless — whether they were salaried or they were practice owners, regardless of whether they were specialists or primary care providers, regardless of where they lived — the support for the public option was broad and widespread" [Joseph Shapiro, "Poll Finds Most Doctors Support Public Option," NPR.org, 2009.09.15].

But don't doctors know that government will get in between them and their pateints?

Keyhani says doctors already have experience with government-run health care, with Medicare. And she says the survey shows that, overall, they like it. "We've heard a lot about how the government is standing in between patients and their physician," Keyhani says. "And what we can see is that physicians support Medicare. So I think physicians have sort of signaled that a public option that's similar in design to Medicare would be a good way of ensuring patients get the care that they need" [Shapiro, 2009.09.15].

Our Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin keeps saying the public option is a "deal breaker." SHS evidently needs to see her doctor.

Update 13:02 CDT: Badlands Blue catches the news, too, and notes that AMA members seem to like the public option, even though their powerful leadership has rumbled to the contrary.


  1. Can't trust surveys? Well yes and no, but the data collected in surveys is subject to interpretation as Corey proves here.

    I go to the link and see quite a different picture. First of all on 10 % of the physicains surveyed were in favor of a public option only. Hardly a love affair.

    Of the physicians surveyed 27 % indicated that they prefer private insurance over the public option. Almost 3 times as many. Physicians are in love with the public optiion?

    And finally the only way to get physicians on board (63%) with the piblic option is to combine it with private insurance. I am begining to sound like a broken record, hardly a love affair.

    This is exactly the kind of spin the democrates are putting on Obama care. Don't fall for it.

    And finally, you just can trust surveys, yes and no, it depends on who is doing the survey. This survey was sponsored by National Public Radio. This should raise some eyebrows. Public radio = Government sponsored radio? A government sponsored entity performing a survey for a socialized medicine. Could the results of this survey be skewed? I think maybe.

    Tim Higgins

  2. When you have no numbers of your own, cry "Spin!"

    Tim, Tim, Tim. A public option, alongside private insurance, is exactly what President Obama has been advocating all along. He believes, and apparently a majority of doctors believe, that Uncle Sam Insurance will improve competition, insure more people, and provide better care to more Americans. Where's the spin there?

    Doctors aren't afraid of government paying the bills. Why are you?

  3. And read the article again, Tim:

    "Dr. Salomeh Keyhani... and Dr. Alex Federman, both internists and researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, conducted a random survey, by mail and by phone, of 2,130 doctors. They surveyed them from June right up to early September.... The survey was published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health care research organization that favors health reform."

    NPR-sponsored? I missed that line. NEJM published it. If you want to question the study, feel free to point to specific flaws in the methodology that the NEJM editors missed.

  4. Local area doctor, Dr. Holm, weighs in on the issue at ThePostSD. Could it be that a trained medical professional would advocate death panels? Health Care without the hyperbole

  5. Rep. Herseth-Sandlin should spend more time listening to the docs and those that know a strong Public Option keeps the insurance industry honest - but Rep. Ross, alpha male pound puppy in the Blue Dog House has a pre-existing condition with the industry. $$$$$$ is the condition.

    I wish she'd listen more to Weiner than the GOP-wannabes.

  6. http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=506199\

    Go to this link and poll of just how satisfied doctors are with the proposed health care plan. NOT!!

  7. Linda Mc., Investors Business Daily are the same characters who ran as "news" the bogus claim that H.R. 3200 bans private health insurance. Forgive me is I'm a little suspicious. They give percentages, but they don't say how many physicians have actually responded. They also say they are still receiving responses, which sounds dodgy: you generally don't start drawing conclusions and you sure as heck don't publish until you have finished collecting data. The NEJM numbers are much more checkable.

    I also note with interest that even the IBD article acknowledges that other wealthy nations with all their darned government health insurance generally have more doctors per capita than we do: "The U.S. today has just 2.4 physicians per 1,000 population — below the median of 3.1 for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the official club of wealthy nations." Sounds like various public options in other countries didn't drive doctors out of practice... at least not as much as conditions in the status quo in America.

  8. But don't believe me: check out Nate Silver, a pretty smart numbers guy, who points out specific methodological flaws in IBD's little poll (hat tip to Decorum Forum!). The IBD poll simply is not trustworthy. I still have not heard any similar detailed dismantling of the survey published in NEJM.

  9. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112818960

    Your NEJM survey is questionable also in its bias. As you can read in the above link, it was funded by a group that favors health reform (oh, really!) and reported on NPR.

    “The survey was designed and conducted by Drs. Salomeh Keyhani and Alex Federman of Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Over the summer of 2009, they surveyed a random sample of more than 2,000 physicians.”

    “The survey was published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health care research organization that favors health reform."

    Polls are something like statistics. You can get them to show anything you want depending on who you ask and how you ask. Just don't critize my poll unless you want me to critize your poll!

  10. Linda Mc., I am criticizing your poll by pointing to specific flaws in the methodology. You are point to the news organization I linked and the sponsor, but you have yet to show that the New England Journal of Medicine allowed substandard research onto its pages. I await specifics.


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