Birmingham doctor concerned about new health care laws

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Dr. Amy Bentley Illescas operates a private practice in the Greystone area. She says doctors are seeing the effects of health care reform even before it has been fully implemented.

“We have to tell the government, ‘yes, we’re using electronic medical records in a meaningful way, yes we are making sure that our patients are under a certain weight, that their blood pressure is under a certain level,” Bentley said.

Some patients are uncomfortable with their doctor sharing health information with the government.

“I don’t know the people that are going to be in charge,” Mary Brakefield said. “The people that are going to oversee our records and our private information. Who are these people?”

What would the government do with that information? In the future, doctors will receive monetary incentives from the government when their patients meet certain health standards. It’s called the physician value-based modifier.

“We have to make sure their blood pressure is less than 140/90, make sure their body mass index is less than 30, preferably 25,” Bentley said. “All of these things to say that we are getting patients to their goal for these different health care conditions. If they’re not getting to their goal, the doctors will be penalized.”

According to a representative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, this year, 2013, is the first year doctors’ performance is measured, and 2015 will be the first year payment will be affected.

Doctors cannot force patients to take their medical advice.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

“It’s a big deal when you institute a program that makes doctors want to get rid of a patient,” Bentley said.

Bentley said under this program, it makes sound financial sense for doctors to accept patients with high-paying insurance and decent health and to decline those without it.

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