Doctors’ Diagnosis for Obamacare: Terminal

June 25, 2012

Doctors’ Diagnosis for Obamacare: Terminal

By Benjamin Domenech

Although we’ve yet to hear the Supreme Court’s decision regarding President Barack Obama’s health care law, doctors across the country have a diagnosis for it already: It’s time to pull the plug.

A nationwide survey of 2,694 American physicians, conducted this month by Jackson Health Care, found overwhelming numbers of doctors believe Obama’s law will increase costs, damage the doctor-patient relationship, and fail to improve the quality of health care. They say Congress and the president should scrap the law and start over from scratch.

According to the poll, 70 percent of doctors say the law will not stem rising health care costs--a point on which they agree with the Congressional Budget Office. Sixty-one percent say it will not improve the quality of American health care. And a 55 percent majority say Congress should scrap it and start over--unsurprising, given that just 12 percent of physicians surveyed say the law provides needed health care reform.

Doctors are convinced the law will take away their ability to serve patients properly, increasing the role of government in the treatment decision process. A full 68 percent say Obama’s law will not have a positive effect on the doctor-patient relationship, and 66 percent say it would give physicians less control over their decisions. It also found 64 percent of physicians believe the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), Obama’s unelected bureaucratic rationing board, will have a negative impact on patient care.

This poll is consistent with a raft of other surveys that consistently find doctors are frustrated with our health care and health insurance systems--and they believe Obama’s law has made things worse, not better.

A recent Doctor Patient Medical Association survey found 83 percent of doctors are thinking about quitting and 65 percent say government is most to blame for the current problems with the system. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. An Investor’s Business Daily poll of physicians before passage of Obama’s law found 65 percent of doctors opposed the scheme, and 45 percent said if the law passed they would consider leaving their practice or taking early retirement rather than work under the new regime.

If you support the president’s plan, maybe you think this doesn’t matter. Maybe doctors don’t know best about how to solve all the health care challenges in the country. But here’s the problem: Obama’s plan requires a lot more doctors to even be a workable solution.

Even under the most optimistic scenario, the administration’s own estimates anticipate a shortfall in the number of primary care physicians. They need to find 30,000 more doctors by 2015. That’s a difficult goal to reach even without a flood of doctors deciding to take early retirement rather than deal with Obama’s mandates.

Obama and his allies in Congress brought this on themselves, with their backroom negotiations and sweetheart deals. Once the Rube Goldberg machine of Obama’s law comes crashing down, decisions about how to address the real challenges of health policy ought to include doctors and patients in a transparent, open decision-making process that takes steps in a variety of areas toward patient-centered reforms.

It’s time to get government out of health care and empower patients and doctors in a competitive marketplace where prices are transparent, responsibility is rewarded, and quality thrives.


Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News.