Contents tagged with health care costs

  • The changing landscape of family medicine in Texas

    Tags: health care reform, quality, family medicine, delivery, system, health care costs, physician, employment

    By W. Mike McCrady, M.D., and Anne McCrady

    While politicians debate health care reform in Washington, here in Texas change is already affecting the practice of family medicine. In hospital board rooms and medical staff meetings, local doctors are hearing about the transformation of primary care, payments based on quality and value, and the expectation of providers to capture a larger and larger market share. There is a confounding list of issues behind these pressures: some legislative, some economic, and others technological. In response, around the state, not just doctors, but administrators, legislators, and consultants are weighing in on the critical role of primary care to manage cost, ensure continuity, and meet patients’ needs.

    With so much at stake, Texas family physicians face a daunting future. How should we respond to these changes? As with so many things, the answer seems to be to work together. For a rapidly growing proportion of us, that means joining forces with other providers, often as part of a hospital system. A report from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows a drop in the percentage of physicians who identified themselves as being in partnerships from 50 percent to 30.2 percent in the past 10 years. This decreasing number of small medical groups is also documented in national statistics. In fact, a recent New England Journal of Medicine article predicts that by 2012, 40 percent of active primary care physicians will be employed by hospital systems.

  • Bending the cost curve

    Tags: academy update, health care costs, reform, health care, policy

    Now comes the hard part

    By Tom Banning
    TAFP Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President

    If one accepts the premise that politics drives health care policy, then it would follow that flawed politics produces flawed policy. Those hoping for a vigorous and thoughtful debate on health care reform—what works and how to pay for it—are instead forced to settle for media theatrics and hyperbole that come dangerously close to the level of UFO conspiracies.

    The town hall debacles and orchestrated lunacy during the August recess have dispelled any lingering hope that Congress can move away from the partisan bickering and sniping that has increasingly characterized what passes for debate in one of the world’s greatest deliberative bodies. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, with the blessing and encouragement of their caucus’ political consultants, talk not in terms of medical economics and policy options for improving our health care system, but rather in calculated polling and focus-group-generated strategies designed to fire up their respective political base and confuse and scare the public to meet their own political objectives.