Obamacare receives a big, fat 'F' from physicians
With the upcoming presidential election likely to alter the landscape of “Obamacare”—from simple tweaks by Democrats to outright attempted repeal by Republicans—Medical Economics asked healthcare policy experts and our readers to debate the law’s effect on U.S. physicians.
Our editorial staff, with the assistance of our physician advisers, selected eight provisions and consequences (both intentional and unintentional) stemming from the law. Policy analysts provided their thoughts on how Obamacare has shaped the last six years. Then we asked physicians from our editorial advisory board, our 200-member Reader Reactor Panel (comprised of physician readers nationwide who help direct our content), and our e-newsletter subscribers to grade the various elements based on their own experiences. Each physician ranked each element in terms of how it assisted their day-to-day work as physicians on a score from 0 (not at all) to 10 (extremely helpful). The average of all respondents was used to derive the letter grade. Physicians also offered short justifications for their ranking.
This program was necessitated by the growing numbers of primary care physicians who were closing their practices to Medicare patients, due to the many challenges of meeting Medicare rules and regulations, according to Mark Rust, JD, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, and past chair of his firm’s National Healthcare Department in Chicago, Illinois.
Physicians were “dropping the program if they could get away with it, and if they couldn’t, [making] shorter visits to try and keep their heads above water with the level of payments they were getting and concomitant administrative demands made by Medicare,” he says.
There’s also a subtle professional rivalry between specialists and primary care physicians, says Anthony Lo Sasso, PhD, professor of health policy and administration at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “Specialists doing the invasive, more costly, higher-reimbursement treatments would say these are very skill-based [services], but primary care says, ‘well, we’re trying to change their behavior, prevent them from having angioplasty or what have you, so maybe that’s more valuable.’”