The coming doctor shortage

Rick Moran
We already know that Obama and the Democrats aren't very good at math. Just look at the deficit.

But how's this for one of those old fashioned "word problems" we used to get in math class back in the 4th grade?

A country decides to suddenly insure more than 30 million people while at the same time, cutting payments to medical schools and limiting hospital residencies. If you take more patients and add fewer doctors, what do you get?

Trouble, as this Business Week article by Pat Weschler makes clear:

In 1997, lawmakers placed a cap on the number of medical residencies-hospital training required for all doctors-in order to contain costs under Medicare, which pays for most of these training slots. Today the U.S. is in the grip of a nationwide doctor shortage, brought on by an aging population demanding access to specialists. Medical schools have stepped up to the plate, announcing plans to add 3,000 new positions for first-time students by 2018. But because the residency cap is still in place, these efforts may not be sufficient.The health-care overhaul is certain to compound the problem by flooding doctors' offices with newly empowered medical consumers. "Do the math," says Steven M. Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "You give millions more people insurance, and it adds up to a much worse shortage."

The doctor crunch is already dire. Last year there were nearly 17,000 fewer primary-care doctors than needed in inner-city and rural areas, according to the U.S. Health & Human Services Dept. By 2025 there will be a shortage of as many as 159,300 doctors, predicts the Association of American Medical Colleges.

So the government, already experiencing a doctor shortage, in its infinite wisdom sets up a system that ensures fewer doctors and then goes ahead and insures 30 million more patients thus guaranteeing a crisis?

Don't worry. They're going to fix it. Honest:

Congress is now trying to reverse course. On Dec. 5, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), along with Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and other sponsors, submitted an amendment to the health-care reform bill that would add 15,000 residencies at a cost to Medicare of about $1.5 billion, according to Atul Grover, a lobbyist with the medical college association. But because Congress is still looking to keep costs down, that figure may drop, if the change is approved at all, during the debate. 

They don't care that you are going to have to wait an eternity to see a doctor because the physicians they go to usher them to the front of the line. They don't care that you are going to have to wait half a day in a doctor's office for your appointment. They don't care if emergency rooms are going to be overflowing with poor people in even greater numbers than today because of the lack of primary care doctors, not to mention clinics in the inner city.

It will eventually dawn on the American people that they've bought a pig in a poke. But by then it will be too late and, like the sheep over in Europe who are forced to put up with this, they will get used to it.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky




We already know that Obama and the Democrats aren't very good at math. Just look at the deficit.

But how's this for one of those old fashioned "word problems" we used to get in math class back in the 4th grade?

A country decides to suddenly insure more than 30 million people while at the same time, cutting payments to medical schools and limiting hospital residencies. If you take more patients and add fewer doctors, what do you get?

Trouble, as this Business Week article by Pat Weschler makes clear:

In 1997, lawmakers placed a cap on the number of medical residencies-hospital training required for all doctors-in order to contain costs under Medicare, which pays for most of these training slots. Today the U.S. is in the grip of a nationwide doctor shortage, brought on by an aging population demanding access to specialists. Medical schools have stepped up to the plate, announcing plans to add 3,000 new positions for first-time students by 2018. But because the residency cap is still in place, these efforts may not be sufficient.

The health-care overhaul is certain to compound the problem by flooding doctors' offices with newly empowered medical consumers. "Do the math," says Steven M. Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "You give millions more people insurance, and it adds up to a much worse shortage."

The doctor crunch is already dire. Last year there were nearly 17,000 fewer primary-care doctors than needed in inner-city and rural areas, according to the U.S. Health & Human Services Dept. By 2025 there will be a shortage of as many as 159,300 doctors, predicts the Association of American Medical Colleges.

So the government, already experiencing a doctor shortage, in its infinite wisdom sets up a system that ensures fewer doctors and then goes ahead and insures 30 million more patients thus guaranteeing a crisis?

Don't worry. They're going to fix it. Honest:

Congress is now trying to reverse course. On Dec. 5, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), along with Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and other sponsors, submitted an amendment to the health-care reform bill that would add 15,000 residencies at a cost to Medicare of about $1.5 billion, according to Atul Grover, a lobbyist with the medical college association. But because Congress is still looking to keep costs down, that figure may drop, if the change is approved at all, during the debate. 

They don't care that you are going to have to wait an eternity to see a doctor because the physicians they go to usher them to the front of the line. They don't care that you are going to have to wait half a day in a doctor's office for your appointment. They don't care if emergency rooms are going to be overflowing with poor people in even greater numbers than today because of the lack of primary care doctors, not to mention clinics in the inner city.

It will eventually dawn on the American people that they've bought a pig in a poke. But by then it will be too late and, like the sheep over in Europe who are forced to put up with this, they will get used to it.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky