Primary Care Physicians and Obamacare

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is moving forward one of the next questions is where are you going to find a Primary Care Physician, if you have that need?  If the estimates are correct and there will be some 30 to 50 million currently uninsured Americans looking for health insurance coverage, where will they find it?

A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) finds that the group of primary care physicians who are likely to accept new patients may in fact not be doing so.  Why?  With the plethora of new rules and regulations, and government oversight, coupled with the pending increased demand for health care services doctors may not choose to expand their current practice.

 

Current primary care physicians and their associated hospitals have new Medicare regulations with which to contend.  In October, Medicare  began levying financial penalties against 2,217 hospitals it says have had too many readmissions.  307 hospitals will receive the maximum punishment, a 1 percent reduction in Medicare’s regular payments for every patient over the next year, federal records show.

Not only will the current physicians not be taking new patients, also, there is an upcoming shortage of available physicians graduating from medical schools.  The Association of American Medical Colleges, is predicting that there will be a shortage of approximately 90,000 doctors in the next eight years.

With the pending double whammy of not enough new doctors, and those currently not accepting new patients, emergency rooms will see a marked increase in visits by those looking for health care.

Much of the anticipated increase in the need for doctors and and health care services is built into PPACA.  While the estimated numbers of people who are currently without health insurance will decrease as a result of PPACA, the reduction will occur as a result of expanded eligibility for Medicaid. It is estimated that this shift will increase the number of Medicaid enrollees by about 20 million in 2019.  Not only will the numbers of program participants increase, but the associated costs will increase significantly as the Medicaid rolls begin to swell beginning in 2014.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report finds that PPACA will cost $1.93 trillion and yet leave 30 million without any health care coverage.  The CBO report goes on to report that reduced reimbursement rates to both Medicare and Medicaid, providers will endanger, seniors access to health care.  Further Medicare cost cutting will be dealt with by the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Given the lack of primary care physicians, lack of health care availability, and PPACA’s economic impact with the loss of 800,000 jobs, according to the CBO, the road ahead for health care is a rocky one.

 

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