Friday, April 23, 2010

Obamacare will Create Doctor Shortages

Surveys among medical doctors during the health care debate showed that one out of three physicians intended to leave the profession of Obamacare became law. With the law on the books, many in the medical profession are not going to wait for states to sue or courts to over turn, but are going to simply find something else to do.

This is, of course, one of the many ironies of Obamacare. The Plan was suppose to make health care more accessible to the "15 to 30 million" uninsured that we have heard so much about. Instead, health care will be less accessible to everyone, including the uninsured, thanks to Obamacare.

Many doctors are getting ready to move on to other professions. According to the Heritage Foundation, the frustration among medical doctors is at an all time high, noting that "Arizona dermatologist Joseph M. Scherzer M.D. reports in the Daily Caller that he plans to do just that. He cites the impossibility of complying with Medicare's bureaucratic guidelines and paperwork. The fine for failure to comply used to be $10,000. Under Obamacare, it's now $50,000." How will this reduce the high cost of health care?

Another problem is that the government thinks costs first, the patient second, in terms of priorities. This stands in contrast to the mandate that physicians operate under. According to Jerome Groopman, M.D., in The New York Review of Books: "Medicare specified that it was a ‘best practice' to tightly control blood sugar levels in critically ill patients in intensive care. That measure of quality was not only shown to be wrong but resulted in a higher likelihood of death when compared to measures allowing a more flexible treatment and higher blood sugar.
Similarly, government officials directed that normal blood sugar levels should be maintained in ambulatory diabetics with cardiovascular disease. Studies in Canada and the United States showed that this ‘best practice' was misconceived. There were more deaths when doctors obeyed this rule than when patients received what the government had designated as subpar treatment (in which sugar levels were allowed to vary)." So the "best practices" would cost lives. The doctor choosing what was best for a particular patient, would be penalized at the tune of $50,000. Who would have thought we would live in a world with such choices?

This strange approach to health care was previously limited to Medicare and Medicaid. That is no longer the case with the passing of Obamacare. Every American, regardless of where their coverage comes from, will be subject to these laws. So much for "doctor-patient confidentiality." Heritage Foundation notes that "The new law creates an Institute for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which will define best practices using population-based research. This will be used to create government-approved standards for the practice of medicine-deviant physicians will pay a penalty for failure to comply." With such, doctors will cease to be in medical practice, but simply well educated government bureaucrats who are often opposed to the rules they must practice.

It is projected that some 40,000 physicians will leave medicine in the next decade. That is a very conservative estimate.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN radio). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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