Cutthroat: A Surgeon’s Battle towards Massive Authorities, Corrupt Businessmen, and a Damaged Healthcare System

Steven J. Cyr, MD, is the chief medical officer for SASpine and CYRxMD Beauty Surgical procedure. He’s a Mayo…

Steven J. Cyr, MD, is the chief medical officer for SASpine and CYRxMD Beauty Surgical procedure. He’s a Mayo Clinic–skilled, board-certified orthopaedic backbone surgeon and has been named a High Backbone and Orthopedic Surgeon by quite a few organizations. He has additionally been rated as the highest physician in San Antonio by RateMDs and acknowledged nationwide with Sufferers’ Selection and Compassionate Physician Awards.

Dr. Cyr was born in Fort Walton Seashore, Florida, and served fourteen years within the U.S. Air Drive, throughout which period he was the chief of backbone surgical procedure for the Air Drive and backbone surgical procedure advisor to the surgeon basic of the Air Drive and the Pentagon.

Whereas within the navy, he served two excursions of obligation in Iraq as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He additionally served as professor of orthopaedic surgical procedure and assistant professor of surgical procedure on the Uniformed Companies College for the Well being Sciences. A two-year fellowship in beauty surgical procedure made him the world’s first fellowship-trained orthopaedic and beauty surgeon.

He has been married to his spouse, LeAnn, for twenty-two years. They’ve 4 kids. He’s the creator of the brand new e book Cutthroat: A Surgeon’s Battle In opposition to Massive Authorities, Corrupt Businessmen, and a Damaged Helathcare System.

 JEA: What’s the thesis of the e book?

SJC: The premise of Cutthroat is that each sufferers and physicians are struggling beneath the management of financially-motivated businessman and the federal government. Inside the present system, medical doctors are unable to ship applicable care, leaving sufferers with compromised and rationed healthcare. This has led to a 79% dissatisfaction fee with drugs in America.


JEA: Why is the healthcare system damaged and what can respectable residents do? 

SJC: The authorities has restricted medical doctors’ skill to have possession and management of affiliated medical companies; resulting in larger prices with compromised care. The system has been overtaken by financially-motivated businesspeople whose sole function is to make large earnings, on the expense of sufferers and physicians.

Anti-kickback and Stark rules, initially proposed to make sure medical doctors weren’t compromising their ethics for monetary causes, have didn’t cease profit-focused businesspeople from negatively impacting affected person care. The issue these guidelines sought to unravel has truly turn into heightened as a result of medical doctors—who maintain the medical data and legal responsibility with regards to making the suitable choices for his or her sufferers—are not ready to take action. Peer-to-peer opinions have restricted physicians’ skill to ship care appropriately beneath the guise of high quality requirements, relegating sufferers to “cookbook recipe”-style healthcare.

The actuality is that insurance coverage corporations are doing all the pieces they will to maintain the cash paid to them by sufferers as premiums, making large earnings in consequence. This has led to frustration amongst medical doctors who must ration care. Sufferers are unable to obtain the care that they deserve and medical doctors are unable to make sure it.

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The healthcare system is likely one of the solely sectors of the financial system by which the patron (the insurance coverage service) dictates how a lot a service ought to value as an alternative of the individuals offering it. It is like a buyer dictating to a plumber what they’re keen to pay and the plumber being pressured to conform. Medical doctors don’t have any management over their very own reimbursements. The in-network system has actually stolen physicians’ skill to cost what they deem affordable for his or her companies. Out of community care is obtainable—and belief me, sufferers are paying larger premiums for it—however insurance coverage carriers do all the pieces they will to make it inconceivable to go out-of-network. Most medical doctors are unable to work inside an out-of-network situation as a result of sufferers can’t afford the fee for that care, and insurance coverage carriers are accusing medical doctors of fraud for failing to aggressively chase the steadiness of cash owed to them by sufferers. The system is about as much as deter sufferers from even utilizing their out-of-network advantages.

Insurance coverage corporations have additionally whittled medical doctors’ reimbursements down to some extent the place being in personal follow is sort of inconceivable. The variety of employed physicians nearly doubled between 2019 and 2020 as a result of medical doctors had been unable to handle their very own follow and make a revenue on the similar time. The answer is to hitch hospital programs, however these programs additionally give attention to the underside line. This forces medical doctors to ship care beneath a company construction, additional limiting their skill to be autonomous and efficient.

Medical doctors are annoyed and leaving drugs, even speaking their kids out of changing into physicians. However in the long run, what issues most, is that it’s sufferers who’re struggling.

The federal government should step in and break up the monopolies created by large insurance coverage carriers. One choice is to restrict their revenue and provides management again to physicians who care most about affected person outcomes. Employers must have the flexibility to dictate the phrases beneath which their workers are cared for. They need to refuse to permit rationed care or choices to be made by medical doctors in different states or these who shouldn’t have correct coaching who carry out “peer-to-peer” opinions on different medical doctors’ therapy requests.

Moreover, personal insurance coverage corporations shouldn’t be in a position to base their reimbursements on authorities pricing. One of many greatest points confronted by personal healthcare is that business carriers base their reimbursements on Medicare charges, which permits them to repeatedly lower funds to physicians. The federal government additionally continues to aim to lower doctor reimbursement yearly whereas the fee to follow drugs has elevated by 50% for the reason that Nineteen Nineties.

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The scenario is dire and drugs is in a tailspin. Some staggering statistics:

  • 79% Of People are dissatisfied with healthcare in America
  • 70% of physicians had been employed by hospitals or companies in 2020, whereas solely 46.9% had been employed in 2019. Employed physicians report a doctor distress index of 4 out of 5.
  • 89% of physicians really feel that drugs has worsened because of rules. (Healthcare Finance Information)
  • “The typical household medical health insurance premium within the U.S. has greater than tripled for the reason that ‘reasonably priced’ care act was signing into regulation in 2010. The most important beneficiary? Insurers.” (Zacks funding Analysis)
  • United Healthcare:

o $13.8 billion in revenue in 2019

o $4.9 billion in Q1 of 2021

o $6.6 billion in revenue in 2019

o $2.2 billion in Q1 of 2021

  • In April 2022, the American Medical Affiliation acknowledged that the fee to follow drugs has risen 39%, whereas reimbursements have declined roughly 50%, since 1992.


JEA: Are you able to identify a few of the people who find themselves behind “Massive authorities”? 

SJC: The regulators who proceed to implement insurance policies that permit insurance coverage carriers to boost charges and insurance coverage premiums, lower reimbursements, deny care, and ship federal investigators after physicians (who’re merely attempting to ship high quality care to their sufferers in a difficult system) are “large authorities.”

What have these individuals carried out to deprave our system? Large foyer teams for hospitals and insurance coverage corporations proceed to make sure rules are handed to restrict doctor management of drugs, as an alternative handing over the reins to enterprise individuals whose curiosity is profitability, not affected person care.

I’m not conscious of what occurs behind the scenes—however there are positively large {dollars} behind the corruption in healthcare.

JEA: What was your expertise on the US Air Drive? 

SJC: My time within the navy was a mixture of the wonderful reward one feels for taking good care of the nation’s best patriots, and frustration with the hierarchy of each drugs and the navy.

In basic, we had been in a position to ship no matter care we needed for navy beneficiaries with out limitations. The great thing about training whereas lively obligation was that I didn’t must get permission for checks, therapies, or surgical procedures. I used to be in a position to decide what my affected person wanted and ship that care instantly. The choice was between me and the affected person. That’s how drugs must be practiced.

Whether or not you’re lively obligation or a civilian, the doctor-patient relationship, a shared understanding of the choices obtainable, and the final word therapy choices made for medical diagnoses, must be between the treating doctor and their sufferers. Nobody else exterior of that relationship ought to have a hand in dictating what care is delivered. The one time there must be oversight and enter is when care is been compromised and outcomes are struggling. That’s the great thing about navy drugs. Medical doctors are uninhibited with regards to delivering the suitable care for his or her sufferers.

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JEA: Was “large authorities” dominating the system then? 

SJC: Whereas I used to be lively obligation, insurance coverage corporations within the civilian sector had been slowly taking management by creating well being administration organizations and creating in-network insurance coverage. In the end, this led medical doctors to offer in to decrease and decrease reimbursements, finally permitting insurance coverage carriers to take management of decision-making and even doctor reimbursements.

JEA: What are a few of the pressures that medical doctors such as you face within the “public sq.”?

SJC: I feel one of many greatest points dealing with medical doctors is the false assumption by the general public that medical doctors management drugs and make tons of cash doing so. There’s a pervasive fable that the rationale healthcare prices are rising is as a result of medical doctors are making extra money. However the truth is, doctor incomes have dramatically declined, when adjusting for value of dwelling, whereas the fee to follow has elevated.

Frankly, many personal physicians wrestle to make a revenue. It’s essential for the general public to grasp that the majority medical doctors are on this career as a result of they’ve a calling to serve and sincerely need their sufferers to do effectively.

89% of physicians report emotions of melancholy and frustration due to the skin pressures we face. Annually within the U.S., roughly 300-400 physicians die by suicide. Suicide deaths are 250-400% larger amongst feminine physicians when in comparison with females in different professions. Within the basic inhabitants, males full suicide 4 occasions extra typically than females. (ACEP) 86% of physicians have observed diminished pleasure of their follow. (HealthcareDive)

Not solely do we’ve to fret about our sufferers’ well-being, however now, we’ve to fret about authorities investigations, audits, mounting administrative burdens, the pressures from enterprise entities to manage decision-making, and the demand for larger salaries from workers—all whereas our reimbursements are lowering.

Until one thing occurs to appropriate our present course, we’ll see a large deficit within the variety of physicians sooner or later. The period of time, cash, stress, psychological burden, and accountability that it takes to be a health care provider is attending to the purpose the place it is going to not be a beautiful career for the nation’s brightest college students who would favor a job with decrease stress ranges, extra free time, and better pay. The American Medical Affiliation estimates there will probably be a scarcity of between 38,000 and 124,000 medical doctors by 2034 (Affiliation of American Medical Schools). It is a scary situation. I’m anxious about what’s going to occur sooner or later until issues are modified and medical doctors are given management as soon as once more.