(Washington, D.C.) – The American Academy of Ophthalmology joins the American College of Surgeons’ call for a respectful debate of health care reform proposals that is free of misstatements and misinformation.
“The debate of legitimate concerns surrounding health care reform is expected and should be encouraged,” said David W. Parke II, MD, CEO of the Academy. “The physician community in general and the American Academy of Ophthalmology in particular have participated in this debate, working in an open and honest fashion with Congress and the administration to address the key issues. However, in recent weeks, public remarks by President Obama on two occasions have been both erroneous and disrespectful toward the physician—particularly the surgical—community.”
In two separate comments, the President strongly implied that surgical patient care decisions are financially motivated, and he grossly exaggerated what surgeons are reimbursed for those services. Last week President Obama commented that surgeons make $30,000 to $50,000 to amputate a diabetic’s foot. In reality, surgeons are paid $740 to $1,140 for the procedure. Previously, the President implied that surgeons choose to perform a tonsillectomy rather than recommend medical treatment on the basis of a grossly exaggerated differential in payment. The President’s misstatement, which we assume was unintentional, does not serve the public well.
The vast, vast majority of American physicians always place their patients’ welfare first and make complex medical decisions driven by that philosophy. To imply otherwise is not supported by evidence and is irresponsible in the context of a complex national discussion with massive potential impact on the lives of every American. Like the President, physicians want quality care for patients and welcome the debate about health care reform when it relies upon clear, understandable facts.
The Academy has not yet endorsed a health reform bill. It supports expanded coverage and maintenance of a pluralistic health care system that provides choices for patients and their physicians.
“The Academy will continue its call for open and honest dialogue, free of erroneous information, as Congress and the American people consider meaningful health care reform legislation,” said Parke.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Academy is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org.