Jason D. Fodeman, MD: Healthcare for me, but possibly not for thee

The Hill, January 17, 2015

President Obama recently checked in to Walter Reed hospital with a sore throat. During his visit, it appears he received a suite of treatments to aid in diagnosing his illness, including a CT scan, a fiber optic exam, and ENT consultation. Ultimately, the doctors concluded that he has acid reflux.

As the leader of the free world, Obama certainly deserves top notch medical care. Yet the breadth and quality of medical care that he received starkly contrasts with the diminished care that too many Americans could soon receive thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

As a physician, I strive to give the best medical care to every patient who walks through the door. The ACA has the potential to undermine my ability to do this in a number of ways.

One example is the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), one of the many bureaucratic agencies created under the law. The institute’s mandate is to conduct government-sponsored research comparing the efficacy of medical and surgical interventions. It draws its conclusions not from individual patient outcomes but on the average outcomes of a pre-set population. Many observers fear that federal regulators might use this research to limit or refuse to cover treatments that it deems “ineffective.” Medicare, for example, could consider PCORI’s findings when determining what procedures it will or won’t cover and how it will reimburse those interventions. This would limit patients from getting the care that they need and want.