Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Gainesville Sun Prints an Article

     I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun because the media coverage of the FBI raid at my office last year seemed, as usual, to sensationalize the event.  I had not been asked to comment for the media at that time.
     But the Sun's editorial page editor didn't publish my letter--it was too long.  I asked that it be printed as an Op-Ed piece.  Instead, another editor called me at my office and asked questions about what had happened and what I thought was going on.  I answered with frankness...then realized that this was a reporter who planned to do a story about me in the fourteen-month aftermath of the raid.
     "Are you asking me questions because you're planning to write an article about this?"  I asked, once I realized what was going on.
     "Maybe," said the reporter.
     "Why?"  I asked.
     "I think it's an interesting story."
     "But I wrote a letter to the editor," I pressed her.  "Why can't you simply publish it?"
     "A story might provide better coverage," she said.
     "But a story written by you is different from a letter written by me," I told her.  "You'll write something that slants the story in a direction that makes people read it.  That's not what I want."
     "I'll try to represent you accurately," she said.
     "Why can't you print what I wrote as an Op-Ed piece?"  I asked.  Then, I'll know you've printed what I want to get across.  I've been treated unfairly, and I think people should know this is how the federal government operates.  The American legislature has given the federal government power to ransack and raid just about any doctor."  
     "That's a story we'd like to cover," she answered vaguely.
     So I offered her a tour of the clinic, and gave her permission to take a few photos.
     The article was printed:
and I thought it slanted the story of what is happening to me in a negative way.  I never said that the federal government is investigating me for fraud.  I don't know what they're doing, and I certainly haven't committed fraud, or a crime in any sense of the word as it is is understood by any of us.
     However, the government has been extended great liberties under HIPAA, since this act was passed in 1996.  Using HIPAA as an excuse--and statutes that were put into place as part of the "war on drugs" and the "war on terrorism"--to invade doctors' offices and "recuperate" money is--I believe, a crime against doctors.  Raids on any business are bad, but raids on doctors cause a degree of anxiety that wounds our sensitivity--the very organ by which we are able to make diagnoses.  If these attacks are unfounded, the damage they do becomes a social problem.
     We need good doctors in this country.  Doctors who are under attack, and doctors who are paranoid about being audited, sued or investigated, are not good doctors.  They flee their natural habitat--which is, I believe, solo or small group practices--to take cover in megalithic groups or corporations.  Or, they join the government:  the most popular job by far, among doctors with whom I speak, is any job at the V.A. Hospital.  Or a job outside medicine altogether.  Many doctors do what used to be unheard-of:  they take early retirement.
     Most doctors in America feel great uneasiness about their positions.  This has something to do with the tectonic shifts in the politics of medicine, especially of late.  But down here in the trenches, where I live with my solo-doctor-colleagues, the anxiety we feel every day stems from the craziness surrounding coding, billing, charging, collecting, interacting with HMO's, feeling despair about unpaid claims and huge A/R's, and the hegemony of insurance and pharmaceutical companies over the whole of medicine.  Medicare has complicated the process of the third-party payor system beyond repair, because it has set the (bad) standard which all insurance companies use to "save money" by capitalizing on a system for billing that is so complicated doctors can't keep track of how to get paid for what they do and err on the side of doing nothing so as not to be targeted for audits.  In addition, no one can agree on the correct way to code anything, or on the proper amount and kind of documentation required to demonstrate that the coding is "accurate," not "fraudulent."
     The system is a mess.  The politicization of medicine isn't helping, but the system was a mess long before the Affordable Healthcare Act ("Obamacare") became such a lion of a topic.
     Do I have a solution?
     I think someone should be asking solo doctors how the practice of medicine in America could be restored to a standard of simplicity and commonsense procedures that would actually enhance the health of the citizenry rather than cause us to chase after diseases once they've taken such a lead we can't overcome them.  That's where the savings are, and that's what we solo family doctors--whose hearts and souls haven't been hammered by bureaucracy and corporate greed--know a whole lot about.
     When was the last time a politician or an advisory panel asked one of us solo docs how medicine ought to be delivered in this country?    


  1. Part 1
    Let me say straight away that I believe in your innocence without reservation. As anybody would be who is feeling violated, you are stewing over the injustice of it all. You’ve been rudely awakened to the realty that United States is Constitutionally Bankrupt. Instead of law enforcement having a limited role of protecting people and property they now have an unlimited role of achieving social justice. Its’ name is Tyranny. Congress, the president, and the courts have broken their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

    The ‘war on crime, guns, and drugs’ in this country has become big business with record 7 million citizens behind bars. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, 9 times more incarcerations per population than Russia and 13 times more than Iran. Of the 11 million arrests in the United States last year, nearly a million adults and 90,000 juveniles were arrested in Florida. Florida’s 2011 population was a little over 19 million. Almost a third of our adult male population in Florida is serving time in the criminal justice system (incarceration, probation, parole, court services) and they and their families are paying for all the electronic surveillance and drones flying overhead that are recording citizens almost everywhere. What a racket the plea bargain system is!

    Of those one million arrests in Florida last year, between 20-25 percent were dropped in every county due to insufficient evidence. Translation of insufficient evidence: 1) no hard evidence exists 2) and only one witness who is considered weak (compulsive liar, mentally ill, with motive etc.) or 3) and complainant who is no longer angry or changed story (fit of fury over) and won’t testify against accused. 4) law enforcement has absolutely no evidence whatsoever as to the defendant. It is my humble opinion that it serves justice better to have evidence in hand before arrest rather than not. It is my feeling that these arrests serve as link to accessing citizen’s funds and assets…more low hanging fruit to be had.

    It is telling when you were not arrested right away that they don’t have an informant who has sworn out a complaint against you. They are most likely acting on a tip and finding out that ‘that dog won’t hunt’. They have nothing or they would have arrested you. Andrew Nguyen M.D. a Trenton, FL physician, was arrested in a raid when a patient turned informant. His practice was ruined when his insurance carrier cancelled his policy and the local druggists refused to honor his prescriptions. Doctor Nguyen sued and won a substantial settlement (I’m sure not enough to cover all his stress) when the ‘No Information’ was filed it was due to insufficient information as to the defendant.

    Due to the very liberal Sunshine Laws every law enforcement agency allows newspapers access to arrest records and to the mug shots of arrestees. Newspapers, like the Gainesville Sun, are posting these mug shots online where they will remain forever for the world and future generations to see. Most mug shots are not in the least flattering. Many of the accused are frowning or looking bewildered and disheveled. Many sites online exist to ridicule and laugh at images of folks dressed as convicts in black and white striped tops. Imagine what the outcome would be for a job seeker if a potential boss ‘googled’ the applicant and saw such an image. That is the trend in the hiring process. That includes the arrest information of the 200,000 or so whose cases are dropped every year due to insufficient evidence in the case. In my humble opinion, that constitutes punishment before due process, which obviously no longer exists. All stories written about the accused are sensationalized and are written as though the events are factual. And these stories are republished over and over even after the accused is fully exonerated with some articles being viewed thousands of times.

  2. Part 2
    Most concerning is the naivety of the citizenry of this country who are calling for more laws to protect them. They march uninformed into voting booths and vote for harsher punishments and vote yes when asked to give up their civil rights and liberties bit-by-bit without any thought as to what the ramifications to their freedoms and their children freedoms could even be.

    How safe will they feel when they find themselves sitting in a jail cell wandering what evidence could the police possibly have against them and knowing full well they’re innocent but now charged with a crime carrying a mandatory minimum 25-30 year sentence. More than one hundred innocent citizens have been released from death row, some only days away from execution. Imagine the injustice to those executed who were innocent. No first world nation carries out death penalties. Our most urgent task in this country is to stop law enforcement from killing unarmed or mentally ill citizens across this country.

    This brings me back to Germany forty years ago when I had many German friends whose parents suffered the wrath of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. I once met a friend’s mother who told me about how terrifying it was to be forced to work in the kitchen at the Third Reich hotel in Obersalzberg with swarms of Secret Police present. She thought the German citizens were complacent and she expressed great remorse and regret that they, as a country, were responsible for millions of deaths. Many Jews, who were also complacent, committed treacherous acts against other Jews that eventually led to their own deaths when they were disposed of and sent away to the prisons. You wouldn’t think that people could be complacent when it came to friends and relatives being snapped up and murdered by the police. She said she found it to be a blessing and felt relieved when armies from other countries came into her beloved Germany and were able to defeat the German Army and the Gestapo was no more.

    ‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron’ (1Timothy 4: 1-2). In fact, there will be a time when people who kill you will think they were doing work for God (John 16:2). We must be thoughtful about Satan and billions of dark angels who are roaming freely about our planet on a mission to destroy everything that God loves. We must not be complacent as we have much to lose. Are there not people today who doubt the atrocities committed by the Nazi Party? Blinded to the truth, consciences seared?

    Well, our course is set and given the rate of arrests in Florida it won’t be long until everyone has their mug shot online and the stigma will cease to exist. Dignity will become a thing of the past. Since we will all have arrest records future arrestees can avoid being set apart as it will be hard to distinguish the wrongdoers from everyone else. In the meantime, to combat the effects of the damning press online the arrested can simply change their name.

    Have you checked further into that island you mentioned?