Physician Independence Not Incompatible With Reform
As a result, many independent physicians are throwing up their hands about their ability to remain so in an environment that appears to actively discourage physician independence. These are the practices that are acquired on a daily basis by the nation's hospitals and health systems, whose leadership seems to often equate physician acquisition with physician alignment.
From the physician's point of view, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Businesswise, it's difficult, and arguably more stressful, to maintain your independence. There's a degree of safety in employment.
As an employed physician, your job and standard of living isn't quite as dependent on the whims of the federal government or the difficulties of contracting with commercial insurers. Then again, you can't make your own decisions.
So says Russell Libby, MD, the president-elect of the Virginia Medical Society and a frequent commentator on what I write in this space each week. He says giving up your independence as a physician is just that: giving up.
"I'm not sure what employment achieves other than consolidation" he says, arguing that consolidation doesn't necessarily achieve benefit to the community. "That doesn't mean there aren't examples of that, but in a partnership, community benefit is a consideration as it evolves. When you look to be acquired, it's because you're giving up."
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