The coming shortage of doctors can be blamed on Obamacare

Some alarming reports from physician organizations predict that by 2030, there will be e near catastrophic shortage of primary care doctors and specialists in the United States.  This is due to a combination of fewer people entering medical school and a huge number of doctors indicating they will take early retirement.

The blame for so many doctors leaving the profession can be placed on Congress and the regulatory burden placed on physicians by Obamacare.

Washington Examiner:

A 2016 report from the Physicians Foundation found an alarming growth in burnout and dissatisfaction among practicing physicians – 47 percent of respondents in the survey indicated plans to "accelerate" their retirement and move into areas outside of clinical medicine.

The most common reason for leaving medicine included regulatory burdens and electronic health records. Nearly 63 percent indicated that they have negative feelings about the future of healthcare and only half of all physicians would actually recommend a career in medicine to their children. Many of my colleagues feel they have no voice and have no way to impact healthcare policy – even in their own institution.

As regulatory requirements and non-clinical tasks continue to mount, physicians are finding themselves spending less and less time with patients. According to 2016 research from the Annals of Internal Medicine, most doctors only spend 25 percent of their day engaging with patients – the bulk of the time is spent on non-clinical electronic and regulatory paperwork. In fact, for every hour of direct patient contact, physicians have an additional 2 hours of electronic paperwork.

Most of this is due to either mandatory electronic medical record coding (to help the hospital systems bill at the maximal levels) or due to government-mandated documentation (such as asking about gun use during office visits – most of which has never shown a survival or outcome benefit).

These statistics should be incredibly troubling for all Americans seeking healthcare. With access already an issue in the healthcare system for many and more reforms on the way, we must do more to entice bright young minds to medicine – and retain those that are currently delivering care to millions of patients.

These figures should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been studying the effects of Obamacare on the entire health care industry.  Regulations on pharmaceutical companies and an increase in regulations on bringing new drugs to market have negatively impacted one of America's most innovative industries.  Insurance companies are bleeding cash as the entirely predictable problem of older, sicker consumers signing up for new policies drives even the largest insurance companies out of the Obamacare exchanges.

Small and medium-sized physician cooperatives are disappearing as doctors are forced into much bigger groups to more efficiently handle the paperwork burden.  The expansion of Medicaid has driven tens of thousands of doctors to refuse new patients and even drop treating Medicaid clients altogether.

These frustrations have led to thousands of doctors throwing up their hands and admitting defeat.  They want to practice medicine, not become data clerks for the government. 

In order to address the problem, Congress must act quickly.

1. Limit Meaningless Electronic Paperwork

2. Remove Hospital Administrators from the Care Equation

3. Remove Barriers to Patient Care

4. No Longer Allow Insurance Companies to Dictate Care

The author mentions training more "physician assistants" and giving nurses more responsibility for primary care.  Since much of medicine today is preventative and routine, this idea makes some sense.  But physician assistants can't replace a trained physician's eyes and instincts.  We need more doctors, and we need them fast.

It starts with education, of course. We must improve science education, especially in secondary schools.  This responsibility falls on local school districts who, at times, seem more concerned with teaching "diversity" than anything needed or valuable.  Parents must insist on higher standards in science education so budding physicians can get a good science framework to make it in medical school.

For Obamacare supporters, all is well, and nothing needs to be done to fix it.  The rest of us know better. 

Some alarming reports from physician organizations predict that by 2030, there will be e near catastrophic shortage of primary care doctors and specialists in the United States.  This is due to a combination of fewer people entering medical school and a huge number of doctors indicating they will take early retirement.

The blame for so many doctors leaving the profession can be placed on Congress and the regulatory burden placed on physicians by Obamacare.

Washington Examiner:

A 2016 report from the Physicians Foundation found an alarming growth in burnout and dissatisfaction among practicing physicians – 47 percent of respondents in the survey indicated plans to "accelerate" their retirement and move into areas outside of clinical medicine.

The most common reason for leaving medicine included regulatory burdens and electronic health records. Nearly 63 percent indicated that they have negative feelings about the future of healthcare and only half of all physicians would actually recommend a career in medicine to their children. Many of my colleagues feel they have no voice and have no way to impact healthcare policy – even in their own institution.

As regulatory requirements and non-clinical tasks continue to mount, physicians are finding themselves spending less and less time with patients. According to 2016 research from the Annals of Internal Medicine, most doctors only spend 25 percent of their day engaging with patients – the bulk of the time is spent on non-clinical electronic and regulatory paperwork. In fact, for every hour of direct patient contact, physicians have an additional 2 hours of electronic paperwork.

Most of this is due to either mandatory electronic medical record coding (to help the hospital systems bill at the maximal levels) or due to government-mandated documentation (such as asking about gun use during office visits – most of which has never shown a survival or outcome benefit).

These statistics should be incredibly troubling for all Americans seeking healthcare. With access already an issue in the healthcare system for many and more reforms on the way, we must do more to entice bright young minds to medicine – and retain those that are currently delivering care to millions of patients.

These figures should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been studying the effects of Obamacare on the entire health care industry.  Regulations on pharmaceutical companies and an increase in regulations on bringing new drugs to market have negatively impacted one of America's most innovative industries.  Insurance companies are bleeding cash as the entirely predictable problem of older, sicker consumers signing up for new policies drives even the largest insurance companies out of the Obamacare exchanges.

Small and medium-sized physician cooperatives are disappearing as doctors are forced into much bigger groups to more efficiently handle the paperwork burden.  The expansion of Medicaid has driven tens of thousands of doctors to refuse new patients and even drop treating Medicaid clients altogether.

These frustrations have led to thousands of doctors throwing up their hands and admitting defeat.  They want to practice medicine, not become data clerks for the government. 

In order to address the problem, Congress must act quickly.

1. Limit Meaningless Electronic Paperwork

2. Remove Hospital Administrators from the Care Equation

3. Remove Barriers to Patient Care

4. No Longer Allow Insurance Companies to Dictate Care

The author mentions training more "physician assistants" and giving nurses more responsibility for primary care.  Since much of medicine today is preventative and routine, this idea makes some sense.  But physician assistants can't replace a trained physician's eyes and instincts.  We need more doctors, and we need them fast.

It starts with education, of course. We must improve science education, especially in secondary schools.  This responsibility falls on local school districts who, at times, seem more concerned with teaching "diversity" than anything needed or valuable.  Parents must insist on higher standards in science education so budding physicians can get a good science framework to make it in medical school.

For Obamacare supporters, all is well, and nothing needs to be done to fix it.  The rest of us know better. 

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