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Medicine Man

January 26, 2003

To: NC Congressional Representative (Coble) and US Senators (Edwards, Dole) from NC

Dear Member of Congress,

This past Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported "UnitedHealth 4th Quarter
Net Rises 53% As Company Hikes Premiums." One week ago, local
UnitedHeatlh officials demanded that we accept as surgeons payment levels
that go below what we were paid in 1996 and are only a few % points above
the ever falling Medicare rates. This year, United HealthCare raised the
premiums that we as a small business must pay for our employees 20%. This
year UnitedHealth demanded that Cone Hospital system take a pay cut on
daily charges and forced those negotiations to go to the last hour before
a settlement was reached. In Greensboro, UNH is a huge part of our
managed care market. Our economy is suffering and I am providing a lot
more free care not only to the Mexican nationals that live here and have
no insurance but also to the many people who have lost their jobs. ( both
of these populations are growing)

I am outraged by the article that appeared last week in the W$J because I
know what UNH is doing to us both as an employer and as health care
providers. It doesn't help matters that UNH CEO William McGuire's total
compensation package begins at $6 million in direct compensation, $54
million including perquisites, but not including the $357 million that he
has in unexercised stock options (Families USA). These numbers agree with
what I have seen and heard from other sources. This is an outrage!

Remember this when you start hearing more about doctors striking or
refusing to see patients from such managed care plans. Remember this when
you hear about plans to use private sector companies to administer
Medicare programs. Remember this when Dr. William McGuire testifies
before your committee--I would question his credibility and ethics in
trying to make our healthcare system work for patients.
I hope that you will put down the partisan fighting and put on your
statesmanship hats --we need to reform health care for the people of 2010
and beyond. If you don't act now, the future of health care might get
pretty ugly.


Matt B. Martin, MD, FACS

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