Side Effects: What Doctors Have to Say About Obamacare
Kathryn Nix /
No one is more familiar with the health care system than doctors. So what do they have to say about Obamacare? Nothing good, according to a recent survey.
The Physicians Foundation found that “rather than a sign of progress, the survey suggests that most physicians view health reform as a further erosion of the unfavorable conditions with which they must contend.” Furthermore, Obamacare “has further disengaged doctors from their profession, with potentially negative consequences for both the medical profession and for the quality and accessibility of medical care in the United States.”
Sixty-seven percent of respondents initially held a “very negative” or “somewhat negative” impression of Obamacare. When asked how their feelings had changed months after passage of the law, 51 percent said they felt the same, while 39 percent felt more negative. Furthermore, 86 percent of respondents said physicians’ perspectives were not adequately taken into account during the reform process.
Physicians also expressed concern that Obamacare will further erode the quality of health care in the United States. Only 10 percent of respondents expect the health law to improve quality of care, while 56 percent expect quality to diminish. As a result of the new law, a majority of physicians expect to spend less time with patients and restrict their practice significantly for certain types of patients, especially Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Sixty-five percent of the survey respondents confessed to holding a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” attitude toward the practice of medicine after passage of Obamacare, an increase from 49 percent before enactment. And no wonder: The new law darkens the future for practicing and aspiring physicians in several harmful ways.
According to the Physicians Foundation, Obamacare will exacerbate the pending physician shortage, making it more difficult for patients—especially those on Medicare or Medicaid—to access care. In addition, Obamacare will largely replace the private practice model by compelling physicians to consolidate or become hospital employees.
Heritage analysis shows that the new law will reduce physician autonomy, weaken the doctor–patient relationship, and increase the role of the federal government in medical decision-making. Physicians will also face more bureaucratic hoops to jump through, requiring the devotion of more time to meeting administrative requirements.
Finally, Obamacare fails to address growing concerns already facing the medical profession. According to Heritage health policy expert Robert Moffit:
It is hard to imagine how the health law will improve the prospects of the medical profession. … The medical liability problems that confront physicians in many states remain. Moreover, the existing system of administrative payment for doctors and other medical professionals under Medicare and Medicaid, a deepening problem for physicians, is re-entrenched with federal program coverage expansions.
The Physicians Foundation claims that health reform was “necessary and inevitable,” but Obamacare is the wrong way forward. By creating new problems within the practice of medicine and inflaming existing ones, Obamacare will succeed only at hurting the medical profession.