When President Obama was re-elected in 2012, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' (AAOS) President, John R. Tongue, M.D., released a statement congratulating the President and praising his "success in improving access to health insurance coverage and preventive care, lowering prescription drug costs and implementing consumer safeguards against insurance industry abuse during his first term".
This is not to say that the Academy has no issues with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). AAOS, while lauding the ACA's improvements in access to care and in reigning in insurance industry abuses, has expressed concerns regarding cost-containment provisions such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This is to be expected with a health reform plan that preserves the system of private insurance as ACA does. All affected industry parties -- practitioners, hospitals, medical device manufacturers, and insurance companies -- are contending to minimize impacts of the ACA to their own bottom line. But generally, the AAOS response to the ACA has been constructive.
One Tucson, Arizona orthopedic surgeon has responded to the arrival of 'Obamacare" in a decidedly less constructive manner. According to a report by Tucson TV station KVOA, Dr. David Martin is refusing to treat 'Obamacare' patients.
A Tucson woman, Julie Miller, in need of knee arthroplasty contacted Dr. Martin's office to set up an appointment and was told that the doctor does not see patients insured through 'Obamacare'. Miller purchased a Blue Cross insurance policy through the healthcare marketplace. Dr. Martin participates in the Blue Cross network attached to Miller's plan and would be reimbursed according to the same fee schedule as any other Blue Cross patient. So there was no evident financial downside for Dr. Martin.
KVOA attempted to contact Dr. Martin for comment but he declined. An appointment scheduler in his office confirmed his refusal to treat 'Obamacare' patients.
Dr. Martin's refusal to provide care to Julie Miller and other patients like her who gained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, despite his willingness to accept payment from Blue Cross for other patients, appears to be a petulant political protest -- a temper tantrum -- and he deserves to be publicly shamed for it.
But perhaps Ms. Miller is better off. She will undoubtedly find a reputable surgeon more than willing to provide her with the needed care. And would you want to be treated by a physician with an attitude like Dr. Martin's? I know that I wouldn't.