The American College of Surgeons released a statement a couple days ago regarding some outlandish statements that President Obama made at his “townhall meeting” in New Hampshire and a remark he said a couple weeks ago during his primetime press conference.

The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon’s decision to remove a child’s tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what’s right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President’s remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

And he accuses Republicans of playing upon peoples’ fears.  It’s just unfortunate that he doesn’t seem to be able to get real doctors to stand up for him on this health care issue.  So who would you rather listen to?  Real surgeons or Dr. Obama?

At least one thing he has going for him with this health care legislation, unlike a lot of the stimulus projects.  This one is truly shovel-ready.

Picture HT: Chicago Blues Girl

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  1. Yes, excellent. As a doctor, I do not see anything in the plan under consideration that addresses improving the Quality of Care. The focus is on money. As a provider that works with various insurance companies under many different types of plans HMO, PPO, traditional insurance, etc. I chose which companies allow me to do my job well and provide the best care for my patients. The plans that are poor providers to my patients, or do not fairly, reasonably, compensate me for my work -I do not participate with them. They still woo me but their proposals end up in the trash, because they do not care about my patients or about me. If I am told I have to work with any plan that is inferior to all concerned, whether it is from the US Govt. or private, I will do something else. I am highly educated and NO ONE is going to force me to lower my standard of care.

  2. Just as a side, humorous note on this whole subject…I thought this blog title on was funny….

    “AMA to Obama: Stop accusing us of wanting to hack off people’s body parts, champ”


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