MEDICAL: More physicians leaving private practice for hospitals.



The Washington Times (7/24, Devaney) reports, “As if the problem weren’t already bad enough, several medical professionals told a House panel that the Obama administration has made things worse with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, among other health care reforms.” The Times notes that “doctors are finding it increasingly difficult to run private practices and are fleeing to hospitals,” and “the trend is likely to continue as doctors’ preferences have changed.” Notably, “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appeared interested in solving the problems that plague medical professionals”

 Medical Commentary:  By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

The medical profession is currently in a state of high anxiety. The entire healthcare industry has been strategizing as to how to deal with the new healthcare law.  Even though much of the law’s  contents has yet to be revealed, the deck is currently being reshuffled by healthcare providers.

One of the changes is for large health systems to be organized so as to incorporate hospitals, labs, doctors practices, electronic medical records and even insurance coverage as they worry about staying afloat under the new system.

Doctors are particularly concerned about reimbursements. Medicare payments for doctors, especially specialists, may be severely cut. Increased practice regulations will put pressure on doctors to change their ways.  Doctors fear government interference with the doctor patient relationship.  Many doctors do not see how they can make a profit if new regulations force them to increase their business costs, such as with increased paper work and data entry.

My own doctor is an internist who said that he may not be able to continue running his office due to increased costs of doing business.  I found this shocking since he is a very good physician, but he is not the type to look for gimmicks to increase his income. Another doctor I know is a member of a large private heme-oncology practice which is under pressure to join a giant hospital system where he works. So far his group is resisting, but they may be forced to sell out.   Also, new med school graduates have lowered expectations and don’t mind working for a salary in exchange for an easier lifestyle.

Many doctors will reluctantly leave practice, and the promises made by Obamacare will be stifled by shortages of doctors and other providers. I never thought I would see the day where doctors drop out due to business failure;  but it is happening.

So if your doctor seems grouchy, give him a hug and lend him a few bucks.