Doctor Shortage Set to Undermine Obamacare

Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 10:30 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Health care professionals are warning that there could be a wide gap between the number of people seeking medical treatment under Obamacare and the number of doctors available to provide it.

A triple threat — more people needing care, tens of thousands of doctors reaching retirement age and a growing number of physicians getting so frustrated with bureaucracy that they want out — could undermine any improvements the law envisages.

Dr. Jeff Cain, President of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Fox News, "We have an increasing population, we have more Americans that are getting older that need more health care. And with the 30 million Americans that are newly insured with the Affordable Healthcare Act, more people are looking for primary care."

At the same time, 10,000 baby boomers are set to retire every day for the next 19 years — and that number includes thousands of doctors.

In addition, as Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research told Fox, "There are a lot of doctors who are just so frustrated today with all the bureaucracy involved in taking care of patients that they're retiring early."

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act comes at a time when there is already a shortage of doctors in many parts of the country; nearly one in five Americans lives in a region designated as having a shortage of primary care physicians.

Related: Shortage of Primary Care Physicians Exacerbated Under Obamacare

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects the shortage will reach almost 30,000 in two years and will grow to about 66,000 in little more than a decade.

Obamacare provided $900 million in scholarships for primary care workers and $230 million to increase medical residents, nurses and physicians assistants, but the experts say that won't be enough.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, told Fox, "The health care law put a lot of money into hiring more IRS agents to enforce the law, but not that same kind of focus on training more doctors and nurses and others to take care of patients."

"One of the great misconception about Obamacare is that just because you have health insurance, you'll therefore get adequate health care and you'll have access to it," Dr. Ramin Oskoui, president of the medical staff at Sibley Hospital in Washington, told the network.

"Nothing could be further from the truth."

Related: Shortage of Primary Care Physicians Exacerbated Under Obamacare

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