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Friday March 19, 2010

Poll Reveals 1/3 of U.S. Docs Would Consider Quitting Over ObamaCare

By Peter J. Smith

ATLANTA, Georgia, March 19, 2010 ( – A new poll reveals that President Barack Obama’s health care reform may push as many as a third of the nation’s practicing doctors into shuttering their offices and getting out of the medical business entirely.

In other words, the doctor may not be in to see you shortly.

According to a survey conducted by The Medicus Firm, a nationally retained physician search firm, “nearly one-third of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they will want to leave medical practice after health reform is implemented.”

The Medicus Firm queried a random sample of 2,250 physicians from their physician database, and received the responses of 1,195 doctors. Specialists accounted for 63.6 percent of responses, while 36.4 percent were primary care physicians (family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics).

30 percent said they would leave practice early if Obama’s health care overhaul passed without a public option – such as the legislation passed by the Senate and now under consideration in the House. Eight percent said they would leave right away, even if they were nowhere close to retirement age.

When physicians were asked if a public option were included in health care reform, 45 percent said they would leave medicine. 21 percent responded, “I would try to leave medical practice even if not near retirement age.”

“What many people may not realize is that health reform could impact physician supply in such a way that the quality of health care could suffer,” said Steve Marsh, managing partner at The Medicus Firm. “The reality is that there may not be enough doctors to provide quality medical care to the millions of newly insured patients.”

Even more significant: 46 percent of primary care physicians said they would leave their practices if health care reform were passed – a nightmarish scenario, since the nation already faces a shortage of primary-care physicians.

While the Medicus Firm said that it was unlikely that all physicians would follow through with threats to leave their practices, nevertheless, they said that it appeared the Democrats’ health care reform could diminish both the quantity and quality of health care in several ways.

The Firm in its analysis said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 22 percent increase in the demand for physician jobs by the end of the decade ending in 2018. Therefore, even a decline of doctors by 10, 15, or 20 percent “would be severely detrimental to the quality of the health care system.”

“Furthermore, even if physicians are unable to act upon a desire to quit medicine, there could be an impact in quality of care due to a lack of morale in physicians who do continue to treat patients despite feeling significantly stressed,” noted the Medicus analysis.

“[H]ealth reform could be the proverbial ‘last straw’ for physicians who are already demoralized, overloaded, and discouraged by multiple issues, combining to form the perfect storm of high malpractice insurance costs, decreasing reimbursements, increasing student loan debt, and more.”

Steve Marsh spoke with to put in context the mindset of doctors facing the health care reform, who are already overworked and now face a huge influx in volume.

“If you have a physician who is currently at 35 patients a day – for a family doctor, that’s a busy practice – and then you say to the physician that you are adding thirty million more patients to the mix,” said Marsh. “But it isn’t like we are going to have more doctors coming out that year or even the next five years: so the physician is going to be forced to see more patients.

“Combine that with reimbursements that may be cut, you look at the amount of work that is going to be put in, and the amount of financial reward coming out: it can be quite frustrating.”

The poll also underscored physician frustration by asking them whether they would recommend the medical field as a career choice. 36 percent said “I would not recommend medicine as a career, regardless of health reform,” and 27 percent said “I would recommend medicine as a career now, but not if health reform passes.”

Nevertheless, doctors said they did want to see health care reform, but preferred a gradual step-by-step approach. 63 percent “would prefer a different, more incremental approach” to reform, while only 28.5 percent said they supported the current legislation making its way through Congress.

Click here to read the complete Medicus Firm survey and analysis.

Although the American Medical Association has endorsed President Obama’s reform, numerous state and national medical societies oppose the plan.

The influence of the AMA within the medical profession has dramatically declined in recent years because of its activist policies. In 1962, membership in the AMA peaked at 70 percent of physicians. A July 23 2009 article in the Lund Report stated “the AMA (now) only reflects, at best, one-fourth of all doctors practicing in the United States. (921,000 physicians: 236,000 AMA members).”

Below is an extensive list of State Medical Associations and National Medical Societies expressing strong opposition to Obama’s overhaul, as compiled by the office of US Representative and physician Tom Price (R-GA).

State Medical Associations

Medical Association of the State of Alabama

Medical Society of Delaware

Medical Society of the District of Columbia

Florida Medical Association

Medical Association of Georgia

Kansas Medical Society

Louisiana State Medical Society

Missouri State Medical Association

Medical Society of New Jersey

Ohio State Medical Association

South Carolina Medical Association

Texas Medical Association

National Medical Societies

American Academy of Dermatology Association

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

American Association for the Surgery of Trauma

American Association of Neurological Surgeons

American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Osteopathic Surgeons

American College of Surgeons

American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics

American Pediatric Surgical Association

American Society of Breast Surgeons

American Society of Anesthesiologists

American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons

American Society of General Surgeons

American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery

American Urological Association

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma

Heart Rhythm Society

National Association of Spine Specialists

Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions

Society for Vascular Surgery

Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons

Society of Gynecologic Oncologists

Society of Surgical Oncology