When in the Course of Human Events, it becomes necessary for one Profession to dissolve the Financial Arrangements which have connected them with Medicare, Medicaid, assorted Health Maintenance Organizations, and diverse Third Party Payers and to assume among the other Professions of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that the Physician’s primary responsibility is toward the Patient; that to assure the sanctity of this relationship, payment for service should be decided between Physician and Patient, and that, as in all transactions in a free society, this payment be mutually agreeable. Only such a Financial Arrangement will guarantee the highest level of Commitment and Service of the Physician to the Patient, restrain Outside Influence on Decision-Making, and assure that personal information be kept confidential.
The Financial Arrangements between Physicians and the Third Parties have become so destructive to the Patient-Physician relationship, and to the Medical Profession as a whole, that it is the Right, and Obligation, of the Members of the Profession to abolish them. Prudence will dictate that arrangements long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that Physicians are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right; it is their Duty, to throw off such arrangements, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of this Profession; and such is now the necessity that constrains them to alter their former Financial Arrangements. The history of the present system is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct effect the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over the Medical Profession. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
- The Tyranny began during the Second World War, when the Government gave tax subsidies to Employers who offered Health Insurance Benefits, thus penalizing and disenfranchising individuals.
- The Government created and subsidized the Health Maintenance Organization---Entities designed to ration Health Care by Capitation; These incentives set Patient against Physician, thus destroying this Sacred Trust.
- The Government, in 1965, in its Infinite Wisdom and going far beyond its Powers as set out in the Constitution, decreed that the Poor and The Elderly should receive Health Care Benefits funded by the Taxpayer. Thus came into existence Medicaid and Medicare, massive Entitlements that are bankrupting the Federal and many State Governments.
- Alarmed by the rising Health Care Cost that it had engendered, the Government set out to restrain fees to Physicians. These Price Controls increased Health Care Spending, as Volume of Services went up, and Quality went down. No other Profession in the United States is denied the ability to raise fees to cover increasing costs of doing Business.
- The Government enacted HIPAA, forcing the spending of billions to comply, and with no positive impact on Patient Care.
- The Government passed Sustainable Growth Rate formula which lowers Medicare Physician Payment when total spending and volume increase, virtually assuring a downward spiral in Payments.
- The Government and HMOs now limit fees to Physicians by "Payment for Performance," based on "Practice Guidelines." Beyond insulting our Ethic, this destroys our Professional Autonomy.
- Congress and the President have conspired to completely take over all aspects of the Health Care System, with all patient encounters feeding into a National Database.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A System whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a Free Profession.
We, therefore, the undersigned Physicians of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name of our Patients solemnly publish and declare, that we will withdraw our participation in all above-described Third Party Payment Systems. Henceforth and Forever, we shall agree to provide our services directly to our Patients, and be compensated directly by them, in accordance with the ancient customs of our Profession. The Patients’ medical interactions with us will remain confidential. We pledge the highest level of Service and Dedication to their Well-Being.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Richard Amerling, MD; New York, NY