Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doctor Shortages

John Rossomando describes, "ObamaCare's Most Frightening Consequence: Not Enough Doctors".

In addition to financial pressures caused by decreased reimbursements, the article cites other factors:
Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price, a fellow physician in the House Republican caucus, warns regulations will also cause doctors to change their minds about staying in medicine because they will make doctor-patient interactions more difficult.

"There will be limitations on medications that will be available, and shortages of medications through the FDA," Price said. "Surgeries will have to postponed because of a lack of medications needed to put patients to sleep, damaging the quality of the care that is received."

Price complains the regulations even come between patients and doctors when it comes to things as routine as how a doctor has to fill out paperwork to order oxygen tanks for patients who need them.

A November 2010 Physicians Foundation Survey underscored this when it found that 56% of doctors it surveyed anticipate the health care law will diminish the quality of care they can give their patients. A further 40% of physicians said they planned to retire, seek a nonclinical job in the health care field or leave the medical profession altogether.

A Galen Institute Study also found that ObamaCare's regulations likely would force countless aspiring doctors to forgo entering the profession at a time when demand for care is on the rise.

"PPACA [ObamaCare] will strip away physician autonomy, drown doctors in bureaucracy and drain job satisfaction," Dr. Jason Fodeman wrote in an April 2011 study for the Galen Institute. "As the profession deteriorates, older doctors will retire while younger doctors will look to switch careers.

"Many students considering a career in medicine will pursue other opportunities."
(Read the full text of "ObamaCare's Most Frightening Consequence: Not Enough Doctors".)

At the anecdotal level, I know doctors who are already planning exit strategies to leave medicine if/when the regulatory environment becomes too unbearable. This will make things harder on the good doctors who still try to stick it out and remain in practice. If enough good doctors decide to quit, it could lead to a "death spiral" for quality health care in America. And most Americans won't want to be treated by the other kind of doctor...