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Federal Regulator, Meet Dr. Regulated

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

Perhaps it's time for federal regulators to examine themselves, because it certainly appears there's too much oversight that inhibits physicians from doing their jobs, and too little to ensure that they do their jobs right.

As the year is now beyond the halfway mark, and the countdown to full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is on, physicians are in an evolving, never-ending stranglehold of regulations, making them more riled up than ever.

At the same time, a media report finds that the largest physician organization – the American Medical Association – may be exaggerating physician work hours, which has the consequence of overpaying some doctors, never mind pushing healthcare spending even further out of whack.

Hmmm. Is this healthcare reform?

Perhaps it's time for federal regulators to examine themselves, because it certainly appears there's too much regulation that inhibits physicians from doing their jobs, and too little regulation to oversee that they do their jobs right.

Taking aim at regulations it says are suffocating physicians, the Physicians Foundation issued a report last month describing what it called the "top 10 regulatory irritants" that are overwhelming doctors. These aren't new, but it's a complicated swirl of issues that doctors face.

The report discusses 'meaningless work,' under Meaningful Use that includes a 'bewildering requirement' that notes ophthalmologists must weigh patients. As the report says: for what? It talks about the upcoming ICD-10 for 2013, which involves 68,000 codes, often confusing and unsettling to doctors. It mentions medical guidelines, thousands of them, that they say are inconsistent and have little impact on improved patient outcomes via the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and hundreds of other groups.

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