Why Vt. doctors say health reform will kill private practice - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. doctors say health care reform will take away private practice

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A Bennington lawmaker, backed by a coalition of doctors, is raising red flags about a provision in Vermont's new health care rules that regulates payment rates for private practices.

The state's groundbreaking health care reform was approved two years ago. But the group Vermonters for Health Care Freedom says it is only in the last month that it came to the attention of some lawmakers that the rules would prevent private doctors from entering into a private contract with a patient, even if the state is not involved in the payment.

"I think it's a terrible mistake to set up a system in which the mechanism of payment drives clinical decisions, and I'll never practice in that kind of system. In private practice the method of payment serves the clinical needs of individual patients. Because I'm paid by my patients, I work for them and no one else," said Dr. Bob Emmons, a psychiatrist.

"Let's be clear; we're not establishing their pay. What we would be doing is insuring that the reimbursement rates that are between the private insurers and the providers are fair. We're not hiring doctors. Doctors still work either for themselves or for hospitals and that's not changing," said Robin Lunge, the Vermont Health Care Reform director.

Rep. Cynthia Browning remains concerned that if the state sets rates too low for certain specialties, that some doctors may pick up and leave or go out of business. Browning recently introduced an amendment to address concerns about private doctors, but the measure failed.

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