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IBD Poll: Doctors Oppose Healthcare Changes

By Dan Weil   |   Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009 12:40 PM

Almost two-thirds of 1,376 doctors surveyed in an Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP Poll express opposition to healthcare reform.

The exact total was 65 percent for those who object to the healthcare plans being considered by Congress and the Obama administration. Only 33 percent supported them.

The doctors express concern about soaring costs, worsening care, possible rationing and inadequate limits on malpractice suits, IBD reports. They also are worried about government competence and motives.

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“Perhaps the most shocking result: 45 percent of these professionals said they would consider closing their practices or retiring early if the reforms now under consideration were enacted,” IBD reports.

The poll questions were sent out Aug. 28 to 25,600 doctors nationwide. The sample was purchased from a list broker, Lake Group Media of Rye, N.Y. Only responses from active doctors were included.

“The issues are many, but boil down to three big categories: costs, controls and courts,” IBD reports. “One complaint was common: doctors feared any government reform would turn into a kind of ‘socialized’ medicine.”

Hundreds of respondents criticized the lack of tort reform. “Physicians say they practice too much defensive medicine, which drives up costs, just to protect themselves from lawsuits,” according to IDB.

“The costs of this are enormous, though hard to precisely quantify. Estimates range from $100 billion to $200 billion in total added costs to both doctors and patients. Doctors in some specialties, such as neurology, pay as much as $250,000 a year for malpractice insurance.”

As for costs, “With expectations that the government will spend upward of $1 trillion on reform, doctors fear the inevitable controls, including rationing, that will come to rein in costs down the road,” IDB reports.

One doctor wrote, “A government-run plan will be too expensive and will not be effective. The plan will expect doctors to take a lower fee for a given service. The private plans will follow, and outpatient medical services will be forced out of business."

To be sure, not all doctors are opposed to reform. The American Medical Association, the largest advocacy group for doctors, “will stay constructively engaged in the legislative process to ensure that the final bill improves the system for patients and their dedicated physicians,” James Rohack, president of the AMA told Bloomberg.

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