Obama administration officials are putting together a team of 'mystery shoppers' to pose as patients, call doctors’ offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it.If they're concerned about a shortage now, just wait awhile, especially when you treat doctors like criminals.
The move follows increasing alarm over the shortage of primary care doctors.
The administration says the survey will address the shortage and try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programmes that pay lower reimbursement rates.
Federal officials predict that more than 30 million Americans will gain coverage under the health care law passed last year.
'These newly insured Americans will need to seek out new primary care physicians, further exacerbating the already growing problem' of a shortage of such physicians in the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a description of the project prepared for the White House.
Plans for the survey have riled many doctors because the secret shoppers will not identify themselves as working for the government.
Dr. Raymond Scalettar, an internist in Washington, said: 'I don’t like the idea of the government snooping. It’s a pernicious practice - Big Brother tactics, which should be opposed.'
According to government documents obtained from Obama administration officials, the mystery shoppers will call medical practices and ask if doctors are accepting new patients and, if so, how long the wait would be, the New York Times reports.
The government is eager to know whether doctors give different answers to callers depending on whether they have public insurance, like Medicaid, or private insurance, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Dr. George J. Petruncio, a family doctor in Turnersville, New Jersey, said: 'This is not a way to build trust in government. Why should I trust someone who does not correctly identify himself?'
Dr. Stephen C. Albrecht, a family doctor in Olympia, Washington, said: 'If federal officials are worried about access to care, they could help us. They don’t have to spy on us.'
Dr. Robert L. Hogue, a family physician in Brownwood, Texas, asked: 'Is this a good use of tax money? Probably not. Everybody with a brain knows we do not have enough doctors.'
An Obama stooge claims everything will be kept confidential. Sure, who wouldn't believe them?
In response to the criticism, a federal health official said doctors need not worry because the data would be kept confidential. 'Reports will present aggregate data, and individuals will not be identified,' said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan before its final approval by the White House.