Here’s a new entry on the ever-expanding list of things Americans can’t keep in our brave new Obamacare world: Doctors are losing their ability to operate the individually focused one-doctor medical practice. More and more doctors are finding they are unable to make a go of it financially due to Washington’s intrusive demands.
UTSanDiego.com reports on the plight of Dr. Doug Moir, located in Escondido, California, who is spending less and less time with patients and more and more time with data entry.
For Dr. Moir the problems began in the late 1990s when Medicare instituted cost controls on the rapidly expanding program. Naturally, since this is a government program, the cost controls didn’t affect the bureaucracy. Instead the controls came down hard on honest doctors trying to help their patients.
Today, with the passage of Obamacare, the demands for data from doctors have metastasized like a red-tape cancer. According to the story, medical practices have been forced to “install expensive, complex software systems that sharply reduce time for patients.”
Government healthcare "experts" impose more and more uncompensated requirements for reporting on doctors because the experts can’t predict or model what marketplace competition does more efficiently and for free. But if national healthcare policy was hands-off and listened to the feedback from the market to make decisions, then we wouldn’t need highly paid government experts — so you can guess how popular that alternative is in Washington and Sacramento.
A perfect example of expert interference in the healthcare marketplace is the incredibly complicated formula devised in 1997 to tie Medicare’s doctor payments to economic growth. This Rube Goldberg system couldn’t even account for something as simple as inflation, so by 2002 the formula cut payments to physicians by 4.8 percent.
That was no problem for these government experts because taxpayers continued to pay them without a hint of a cut, but the situation was different for doctors. So many stopped accepting Medicare patients that each year Congress has to pass a bill overriding the formula to ensure doctors get paid enough. (Asking the experts to revise the formula to incorporate reality, or better yet encourage competition, is too much to ask.)
This latest Obamacare demand that doctors spend more time inputting data and less time seeing patients has a predictable result. “Surveys suggest that older physicians are retiring in high numbers. Younger ones are closing practices and taking jobs with integrated health systems.”
The result for you and me is all the disadvantages of gigantism: “Have you seen the doctor before” — “Please fill out these new forms” — “Your doctor today will be . . .” and “I can’t imagine how that happened.” This is all without any of the cost advantages consolidation is supposed to produce.
For Dr. Moir this means for a Doppler echocardiogram — part of his noninvasive cardiology practice — the average payment in 2012 was $52.70 for a procedure. This compares with the national average that pays non-Medicare doctors $86.64.
That’s less than a plumber makes for a process that can require from 20 minutes to an hour to finish. Unfortunately, at age 72 Dr. Moir is too old to try for the more lucrative career of a plumber, so his only feasible economic alternative may be retirement.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
© Mike Reagan