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Mystery medical shoppers

Posted: June 28, 2011 5:01 p.m.
Updated: June 29, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Officials at the Obama White House have been making calls to primary care doctors in this country, trying to make appointments in an effort to find out how difficult it is to do so if they’re new patients. There’s just one problem: those making the calls aren’t identifying themselves and are basically “mystery shoppers” who are trying to ferret information from the doctors and trying to find out whether different answers are being given if they are paying privately or have public insurance such as Medicaid.

Many doctors don’t like the devious practice. We don’t blame them. The government has no business snooping around in a deceptive manner like that. One physician, Dr. George Petruncio of New Jersey, is quoted in a news story as saying, “This is not a way to build trust in government.” He’s exactly right. A federal health official is quoted in that same news story as saying the doctors really needn’t be concerned because the data will be kept confidential. That’s a lame excuse and doesn’t in any way exonerate them for their deceptive practices.

It’s no secret that there’s an increasing shortage of primary care physicians. The Obama administration doesn’t need to start making secret phone calls to prove that fact. Additionally, the government is spending $347,000 on the plan. The Obama administration has done enough to discourage physicians from wanting to be involved in government care, but this latest tactic simply isn’t right. The president should tell the Department of Health and Human Affairs to cease and desist.

 

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