DOCTOR SHORTAGE TO GET WORSE

With the signing of President Barack Obama’s Health Care Bill, we can expect the doctor shortage to get worse.

Better beat the crowd and find a doctor.

Primary care physicians already are in short supply in parts of the country, and the landmark health overhaul that will bring them millions more newly insured patients in the next few years promises extra strain.

The new law goes beyond offering coverage to the uninsured, with steps to improve the quality of care for the average person and help keep us well instead of today’s seek-care-after-you’re-sick culture. To benefit, you’ll need a regular health provider.

Yet recently published reports predict a shortfall of roughly 40,000 primary care doctors over the next decade, a field losing out to the better pay, better hours and higher profile of many other specialties. Provisions in the new law aim to start reversing that tide, from bonus payments for certain physicians to expanded community health centers that will pick up some of the slack.

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Note the irony in the AP article.  Nationalized healthcare worsens the shortage.

Massachusetts offers a snapshot of how giving more people insurance naturally drives demand. The Massachusetts Medical Society last fall reported just over half of internists and 40 percent of family and general practitioners weren’t accepting new patients, an increase in recent years as the state implemented nearly universal coverage.

Nationally, the big surge for primary care won’t start until 2014, when the bulk of the 32 million uninsured starts coming online.

Supposedly, the Health Care Bill will take care of the shortage of doctors. However, free market medicine, supply and demand economics, would accomplish the same results more effectively. Based upon what PATIENTS want, doctors would respond to consumer demand. Instead, with nationalized health care, we will see doctor’s decisions driven by politics. That is, instead of patients deciding what kind of medicine they want to buy with their money, politicians will take our money and spend it for us. Politics, not patients and doctors will decide what doctors do and what kind of medicial treatment we are allowed to buy.

USA Today says politics created the problem.

Congress controls the supply of physicians by how much federal funding it provides for medical residencies — the graduate training required of all doctors.

To become a physician, students spend four years in medical school. Graduates then spend three to seven years training as residents, usually treating patients under supervision at a hospital. Residents work long hours for $35,000 to $50,000 a year. Even doctors trained in other countries must serve medical residencies in the USA to practice here.

Medicare, which provides health care to the nation’s seniors, also is the primary federal agency that controls the supply of doctors. It reimburses hospitals for the cost of training medical residents.

The government spends about $11 billion annually on 100,000 medical residents, or roughly $110,000 per resident. The number of residents has hovered at this level for the past decade, according to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. (from here)

In As health care coverage expands, demand for doctors grows, too GreenvilleOnline.com also notes the problem with 32 million new patients expecting “free” health care.

Other Views

Fishersville Mike points out in It’s not just Cuccinelli that other states will fight the health care bill. One reason is because the bill will just make the doctor shortage worse.

United Conservatives of Virginia references in Morning Must Reads from DCExaminer a Wall Street Journal article that suggests you had better get “doctor’s dance card before he or she stops taking new patients.”

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