Law of unintended consequences
Regarding the Feb. 14 editorial “Doctors and self-dealing”:
In general, restricting prescribing doctors from performing CT scans and MRIs is a good idea. But this editorial glossed over one defect in Maryland’s self-referral law. As a Maryland legislator, I tried to remedy this defect in 2008 and 2009.
Current Maryland law bans doctors from “self-referrals” for certain services because of the possibility of conflict of interest and fraud relating to over-prescription. These services include MRIs, CT scans and radiation therapy. But MRIs and CT scans are fundamentally different from radiation therapy in one important way: They are diagnostic tools, whereas radiation therapy is a treatment. While MRIs and CT scans can be prescribed for nearly any ailment, radiation therapy is given only to patients who are known to have cancer, and it has significant side effects. For this reason, the risk of over-prescription and fraud with radiation therapy is far lower.
Maryland law has the unfortunate effect of preventing doctors who perform chemotherapy from co-locating with doctors who perform radiation therapy. Patients who need both chemo and radiation (there are lots of them) end up unnecessarily shuttling between offices. In their weakened condition, it is a hardship. And it is a hardship that only cancer patients in Maryland must endure.
The writer, a Democrat, served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011.
Posted by: kinglaura16 | February 16, 2011 4:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gbarnaby | February 16, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 10bestfan | February 16, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rwdavis2 | February 16, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse