published Friday, June 29th, 2012

A mixed diagnosis for doctors in the health care overhaul

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    Rae Young Bond, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Hamilton County Medial Society and Project Access
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Implementation of a federal health care law means a mixed bag of concerns for local doctors, including possible cuts to Medicare payments, increased patient demand and better coverage for their patients.

"Ultimately, our doctors are concerned about maintaining doctor/patient relations and maintaining access to quality care," said Rae Bond, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society and the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga.

Ensuring that people have access to health care insurance doesn't mean those people will have access to health care, Bond said. There also must be enough doctors to provide care, which will be an issue with more people expected to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act, she noted.

Local doctors are concerned about Medicare payments cut -- potentially up to 30 percent -- that will kick in next year if Congress doesn't reverse the planned cuts. Without the assurance that Medicare payments will be adequate, fewer people will go into medical practice, she said.

In addition, doctors would like to see legislation to limit frivolous lawsuits, she said.

Tonia Cox, a Chattanooga pediatrician with Pediatric Diagnostic Associates, said she welcomes the additional coverage and access for preventive services, for children with pre-existing conditions or for children who stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old.

"It's laying a good groundwork in preventive care," Cox said. "I'm very optimistic that this will help improve access."

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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