June 1998 Bulletin

Congress needs more education on quality, access to specialty care, says Rep. Matsui

Orthopaedic surgeons must work harder to educate Congress about the broad issues of quality health care and access to specialty care, says Rep. Robert Matsui, MD (D-Calif.).

Congress's primary concern about health care has revolved around budgetary concerns, says Rep. Matsui. "There is a lack of intellectual discussion about liability, access and quality," he says. Meanwhile, Rep. Matsui says the country is continuing to move into managed care "by happenstance."

"There's been a two-thirds turnover (in the members of Congress) since 1990," resulting in a lack of interest in issues such as health care, he explains. Now in his 10th term in Congress, Rep. Matsui remembers his early days in Congress when he would spend his free time in Washington meeting with experts to learn about issues. Today, because of the high living costs in Washington, D.C. and family responsibilities at home, he says many members fly to Washington Tuesday afternoon and leave Thursday night.

"Congress needs more education about your profession," says Rep. Matsui. "Today, we call you an industry. Now, you are providers. It's very impersonal."

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