Amputate this

At his Portsmouth townhall dog-and-pony show yesterday, President Obama unleashed a number of whoppers, from AARP support for the health care bill Obama is touting to the innocuous budgetary impact of his plan, whatever it is. Despite what you may have been led to believe, it will save money. How? To those of us with experience as patients or caretakers of patients, this should be obvious, but we’d somehow missed it:

On the doctors’ front, one of the things we can do is to reimburse doctors who are providing preventive care and not just the surgeon who provides care after somebody is sick. (Applause.) Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons — I don’t want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I’m not dissing surgeons here. (Laughter.)
All I’m saying is let’s take the example of something like diabetes, one of — a disease that’s skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it’s not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family — if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they’re taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance.
But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 — immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. Well, why not make sure that we’re also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation, right? That will save us money. (Applause.)

For those who detect something fishy, don’t forget to apprise Linda Douglass at the official [email protected] email address. For those who take special pleasure in observing a b.s. artist recklessly slinging it, here is the video.

UPDATE: A reader writes in the comments:

I’m a neurosurgeon and my wife is a primary care doctor. In southwest Florida, the maximum allowable surgical fee for an amputation, under Medicare, is several hundred dollars. The hospital may be reimbursed $5,000-10,000, but $30,000-50,000 is a fantasy.
Primary care doctors spend all day trying to get their patients to live healthier lifestyles. Recently, the President confessed he has not fully kicked the cigarette habit, which is a condition far more unhealthy than obesity. Surely the President is aware of the dangers of smoking, or does he believe his habit is the physician’s failure?
But for a few medical conditions, preventive medicine does not save money. This is not debatable, it has been proven repeatedly for most disorders studied.
The President’s ignorance in these matters is breathtaking. Heaven help us if he controls our health care choices.

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