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Ophthalmologist Asks, ‘To Opt Out, or Not to Opt Out?’ in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz., June 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- To the question both patients and physicians ask, “Whatever would we do without Medicare?” ophthalmologist Kristin Held, M.D., of San Antonio, Texas, suggests an answer in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Held states that government has flagrantly violated its promise not to interfere with the practice of medicine, made when Medicare was enacted. She writes: “In this environment of government control of medicine one must ask: Is it the physician’s duty to enable the system, effectively sanctioning government’s broken promises, overreach, and failed plans? Or is our duty to better serve our patients by refusing to do so, as we innovate and forge new and better ways to care for our sick? I contend it is the latter.”

Last year, Held opted out of Medicare. What does this mean to Medicare patients who need cataract surgery? She explains that a Medicare patient who sees a Medicare physician can have regular, basic surgery and pay only the Medicare nominal copays. But a patient who wants advanced laser surgery and a state-of-the art lens implant must pay extra for those. The patient’s total out-of-pocket expense for the best treatment, using Medicare payment, is actually greater than Dr. Held’s charges—which include her surgical fee, as the article explains.

“At times I feel we are headed toward an underground railroad system for patients,” Held writes, citing problems her patients experience in getting a timely appointment to see a Medicare physician. She is pleased to be able to offer both appointments within a reasonable period and adequate time to deal with all the patient’s problems.

“Amazingly, as an opted-out physician, it is even legal for me to choose to see Medicare patients free of charge for Medicare patients who need but have trouble affording care,” she adds.

Held reports that her patients are asking her why more doctors have not yet opted out.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

Contact: Kristin Held, M.D. (210) 490-6759, kksheld@aol.com, or Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.com

Source:Association of American Physicians and Surgeons