Letter to the editor: Health care providers put patients first, not profits

It comes as no surprise that the local providers and the healthcare community are embracing the recent efforts outlined in “County joins Vermont in new approach to healthcare” (Addison Independent, Jan. 4, 2018). As a primary care provider in Addison County, it has always been my experience that our local medical community strives “to do no harm,” while keeping the best interests of our patients at the heart of our decision-making. Achieving this within the confines of our current medical system is at best a challenge for all involved.
What is strikingly disheartening are the comments of a local Green Mountain Board member, which imply each provider/patient encounter is first viewed as an income-generating opportunity for the individual provider? I can assure you that the furthest thing from our minds, as we enter an exam room, is whether we “are going to be ordering another test just to generate income.” I find such comments offensive, misguided and deeply concerning coming from our regulatory board.
Until recently, most primary care providers in Addison County were salaried and not reimbursed on an incentive-based system. As a provider, we are more likely preoccupied with the affordability of medications, the additional administrative burdens that further limit patient access, and the unsustainable mandates of 15-minute appointments, which are a disservice to patients and providers alike. The implication that the exorbitant cost of our current healthcare system can simply be attributed to providers “running up the bill” is not only an inaccurate over-simplification but disingenuous.
I am hopeful that the current efforts of our local medical community will serve as an example of its uniqueness and willingness to continue to do what is best for our patients and our community. What is least needed in today’s current medical environment is finger pointing and misinformation.
Scott D. Smith, MD

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