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2 docs, one legislation

April 28, 2010

The healthcare debate is a divisive one, particularly among doctors.  Specialists and generalists tend to have opposing viewpoints as to the pros and cons of the new legislation, and at Temple University, it’s no different.

Alfred Bove

Alfred Bove, an emeritus professor of medicine in the section of cardiology, has been very vocal as to how the new legislature will shift funding from specialists to primary care providers.

On the other hand, Lawrence Kaplan, a professor of medicine in the section of general internal medicine, feels that more specialists will mean more expenditures, and thus drive up the cost of healthcare.

Lawrence Kaplan

The two doctors met and debated at Temple School of Medicine’s grand rounds session this week, offering their own unique perspectives to a nearly packed house of medical residents, faculty, students and staff.

At the event, Bove said that existing data on the cost of healthcare and the level of patient satisfaction was misinterpreted.

“The U.S. does look bad if all areas of the country are averaged together,” he said.  “But if you look at the data regionally, it is equal to or better than the rest of the world.”

Kaplan, however, was not convinced, and cited research that said regional variations aren’t truly representative of the whole picture.

“More specialists mean more expenditures,” he said. “Primary care doctors are the key to cutting health care costs, and for better outcomes.”

Still, both doctors agreed that payment issues aside, the system needs to be changed.

“Right now, we’re driven by a system that pays for sickness,” said Bove.  “You get paid 20 bucks to advise a patient on his heart health, but you get paid 1500 to admit that patient, get an ECG and run tests.”

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