Small town doctors weigh in on health care bill

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Abbeville, AL and Geneva, AL (WSFA) - While the battle over the health care bill escalates in Washington, those on the front lines of patient care are speaking out.

Dr. Richard Bendinger has worked at his family practice in Abbeville for the past 27 years.

He says, change was needed, but he's not sure if the sweeping overhaul was a step in the right direction.

"I don't think they really consulted with people that are on a grassroots level," said Bendinger.

The same goes for Dr. David Arnold.  After nearly three decades as a primary care physician in Geneva, he says the bill's price tag and logistics are cause for concern.

"If you've got 30 million more people with health insurance, and they're going to go to a doctor, where are they going to go?" he added.

Both say it could end up filling their small practices to a capacity they can't handle.

Bendinger said, "We can't be here 24/7.  We're already popping at the gills now."

"Massachusetts did this," said Arnold.  "The issue they ran into was that they didn't have enough doctors, pediatricians, general, and internal medicine doctors to take care of all the people."

Dr. Arnold also worries the new bill may eliminate the patient's ability to choose.

"I have a lady who has cancer.  She's in her early 80's, and she has chosen to have chemotherapy.  In five years is somebody going to tell her she can't do it because it's not going to work?"

But for now they say, they'll keep doing what they're doing—hoping Washington's high hopes don't become a prescription for disaster.

Governor Riley estimates this bill could cost the state 60-100 million dollars a year.

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