No cure for exodus of physicians

New York state recently received the dubious distinction as the worst state in which to be a doctor. We have the highest medical liability cost and twice as many total payouts as the second highest state Pennsylvania.

Yet, instead of addressing this problem, a one-sided bill was passed out of Albany in the final hours of the 2017 session that will exacerbate this problem.

Residents should be very concerned about the impact of this bill to local health care, which would make access to care worse.

We are already seeing examples of shortages. A 2015 report from the Healthcare Association of New York State noted that 86 percent of upstate hospitals indicated that at times a specialist is not available or that primary care was insufficient to meet patient needs.

If signed, the bill would thrust huge new costs on our struggling health care system when we face potentially huge cuts from Washington. Inevitably, it will increase our health insurance costs and force further tax increases.

Certainly, this bill will force many physicians to abandon their medical practices, and seek employment at an institution, thereby disrupting the sacred physician-patient relationship, and result in job losses.

Worse yet, it could continue an exodus of physicians who may be unable to pay these premiums, and deter others from practicing here. Already, we lose 55 percent of the resident physicians we train to more economically advantageous states.

Efforts to reform our medical liability system must be comprehensive. We must look at concerns raised by both sides. But one-sided, piecemeal efforts will do untenable damage to our delivery system.

We urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto this legislation, and bring everyone to the table to negotiate a fair resolution.

Brian D. Meagher, MD. is president of the Chautauqua County Medical Society.

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