Obama’s ‘Mystery Shoppers’ Try to Trip Up Doctors

Monday, 27 Jun 2011 02:15 PM

By Marti Lotman

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The Obama administration has launched its latest Big Brotheresque tactic in the form of a team of “mystery shoppers” who pose as sick patients, call doctors’ offices, and attempt to schedule appointments to see how difficult it is to be seen in a timely manner, reports the New York Times.

The administration argues that this two-pronged experiment will address the “critical public policy problem” of an increasing scarcity of primary care physicians, while analyzing whether doctors accept those patients with private insurance while denying those with forms of government healthcare, according to the Times. The argument is that government health programs pay lower reimbursement rates.

The government’s plan has sparked an uproar in the medical community — in part because the “shoppers” won’t identify themselves as such.

“I don’t like the idea of the government snooping,” Dr. Raymond Scalettar, an internist in Washington, told the Times. “It’s a pernicious practice — Big Brother tactics, which should be opposed.”

And Dr. Stephen C. Albrecht, a family doctor in Olympia, Wash., said, “If federal officials are worried about access to care, they could help us. They don’t have to spy on us.”

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