Why Medicare-for-All wouldn't enhance spine care: 2 surgeons explain

Written by Anuja Vaidya | June 06, 2019 | Print  |

Two spine surgeons discuss single-payer healthcare, and its potential effect on spine care.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: What are some key patient evaluation considerations when performing outpatient spine surgery?

Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at avaidya@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, June 12, 5 p.m. CST.

Question: Would a single-payer insurance system help or harm spine practice?

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD. Founder of the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: Ultimately anything that forces things into uniformity will breed stagnation. We compete with each other as colleagues and specialists and make each other better through that competition. Paying the same amount for a poorly done surgery as well as a well-done surgery will hurt quality.

It will undoubtedly create a fractured system. There will be a two-tiered medical system with those with means paying for non-assigned doctors and the rest being 'assigned.' Should this happen, there will be predictable unrest and lower morale amongst doctors and patients alike. Ironically, our current system, as much as people like to pick on it, can be salvaged and fixed.

Issada Thongtrangan, MD. Orthopedic Spine and Neurosurgeon at Minimally Invasive Spine (Phoenix): A single-payer health care system will harm the spine community as there will be no competition. With single payer, there will be no options and choices, and I predict that the process to get necessarily studies and treatments will be even harder, which can potentially lead to a delay in patients' care. Competition drives innovation — it's the sole reason that the U.S. has come so far in terms of science, research and technology.

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