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Survey: One-Third of All Doctors to Quit Medicine if Obamacare Passes

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist A new survey published in the latest issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly one-third of all practicing physicians would leave the medical profession if Obamacare is passed into law. CNSNews.com is reporting that the survey, conducted by the Medicus Firm, a physician search and consulting firm, polled 1,200 doctors and found that 29 percent would either quit the profession or retire early if Obamacare passes. If a public option was included in the legislation, the number jumps to 45.7 percent. “While a sudden loss of half of the nations physicians seems unlikely, a very dramatic decrease in the physician workforce could become a reality as an unexpected side effect of health reform,” the article states.  Kevin Perpetua, managing partner for the Medicus Firm, said a reform bill could be “the final straw” in an already financially precarious industry. “Many physicians feel that they cannot continue to practice if patient loads increase while pay decreases,” Perpetua said in the study. “The overwhelming prediction from physicians is that health reform, if implemented inappropriately, could create a detrimental combination of circumstances, and result in an environment in which it is not possible for most physicians to continue practicing medicine.”   “With an average debt of $140,000, and many graduates approaching a quarter of a million dollars in school loans, being a doctor is becoming less and less feasible,” Perpetua said. “Health-care reform and increasing government control of medicine may be the final straw that causes the physician workforce to break down.” The poll also found that only three percent of respondents said they thought the status quo should be maintained, with almost everyone saying changes need to be made. However, the majority believe those  reforms should be “implemented in a more targeted, gradual way, as opposed to the sweeping overhaul that is in (the) legislation.”   Andrea Santiago, a spokeswoman for the Medicus Firm, said those numbers were the most striking.   “Please allow me to emphasize that 96 percent of the physicians surveyed in our report are in favor of health reform, in some form or fashion,” she told CNSNews.com in an e-mail. “To me, the fact that so many physicians surveyed want health reform, but relatively few are in favor of the current legislation, was one of the most significant, telling results.”   These survey results defy the constant drumbeat of Congressional leaders who continually say that doctors favor the bill and are part of an “unprecedented coalition” of doctors rooting for its passage, a claim based on the American Medical Association’s endorsement of the legislation in Congress. As CNS reports, in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found 661,400 physicians and surgeons within the United States. Of that number, 250,000 are members of the American Medical Association (AMA) -- and nearly 100,000 of those are medical students. Santiago said no medical association could claim to speak for all doctors, and believes the potential for a massive shortage of physicians has been left out of the debate because lawmakers are trying to speak for doctors rather than to them. The doctors she speaks with are frustrated with the present health care reform process. “Part of it, I think, is fear of the unknown,” she told CNS. “The current health reform bill is so large and all-encompassing, no one really knows for sure what will happen when/if this bill passes, so how does a physician make major career decisions when so much is hanging in the balance?” © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

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