Physicians grill Pawlenty at early presidential campaign stump in New Hampshire

A group of New Hampshire physicians grilled former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty after he blasted healthcare reform as inefficient and said more choices should be left in the hands of consumers.

"I don't like movements toward big government bureaucracies, particularly when we see the track record of the two we have," Pawlenty said of Medicare and Medicaid while addressing physicians at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "They're well-intentioned, but inevitably they become slow-moving, lacking in entrepreneurial qualities, lacking in flexibility, financially quite inefficient and ultimately insolvent. We need a different model."

Pawlenty, presumably in New Hampshire in a bid to secure the Republican presidential nomination, was grilled by several physicians in the audience, including Jay Buckey, a Senate candidate and Democrat, the Associated Press and Politico report.

Buckey noted that while Pawlenty mentioned the growing cost of Medicare, he failed to acknowledge that the program covers the sickest population. He also called out Pawlenty for failing to note that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act calls for Medicare spending curbs.

Ken Dolkart, another physician, questioned Pawlenty's preference for making healthcare more consumer-oriented, and cited a 2007 study of Granite State physicians in which 81 percent favored a single-payer system.

"Your comment about the wisdom of the marketplace and of the individual consumer applies to Fords and Cadillacs and lots of products," but it does not apply to healthcare delivery, Dolkart said.

For more information:
- read the Associated Press article
- check out Politico's story

Related articles:
Minnesota gets approval to expand Medicaid coverage 
MN governor vetoes medical debt history bill 
Minnesota launches site allowing health cost, quality comparisons