Harris should focus on primary care

September 27, 2010

I read your story on Andy Harris and the support he is engendering from the anesthesiology community ("Doctors inject thousands into Harris campaign," Sept. 27). You seemed to portray the situation as a struggle between doctors, who support Andy Harris, and nurse anesthetists, who support their own right to be independent practitioners.

As a primary care physician, I can tell you that I, and many of my colleagues, support neither camp. Both anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists earn too much as it is. Politicians give a lot of lip service to primary care, yet in our present environment very few medical students are entering primary care fields due to low earnings. It may surprise readers that nurse anesthetists, who earn less than half of what anesthesiologists make, are still often earn more than primary care physicians.

If Andy Harris did represent the medical community, and he had any courage, he would be promoting a policy whereby primary care physicians and anesthesiologists have more parity in income. Remember, his salary and mine are not determined by the free market but rather by the whim of insurance companies. The people of Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, do not need more over-compensated anesthesiologists, and it is unlikely that free market conditions would justify their high salaries. It is hard to understand why a Republican like Andy Harris would favor the free market in all economic affairs other than in the area that determines his and his contributors' incomes.

Dr. Andy Lazris, Columbia

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