Monday, June 24, 2013

Editorial: It must be Obama's fault

The unnamed editor suddenly discovers the growing shortage of physicians and somehow sees it as a problem stemming from the ACA. This has been a talking point on the right for years, and like so many of them, is completely spurious.

This sort of shortage is in large part a consequence of the baby-boom bubble. That large generation of doctors is retiring with their contemporaries, taking themselves off the market just as their generation begins to need the most medical attention.

The problem is also increasingly rooted in our high-cost, high-debt education system. Those medical students who aren't filtered out by the high up-front costs of the programs are forced into high-dollar specialties just to stay ahead of their debts, leaving an inevitable shortage of generalists. Add in our ridiculously obstructive state-by-state and skill-by-skill licensing regimes, and you really have to wonder why anyone would not expect a shortage in this area, and nothing to do with Obamacare, which of course is not yet implemented.

Sure, I've heard the stories of medicos so put off by the idea of "socialized medicine" (we're so far from that it's laughable) that they're getting out, just as they've been so unhappy with Medicare reimbursements that they won't take those patients. Frankly I'll lose no sleep over these guys, as they're most likely either incompetent (as shown in their inability to understand how the system is really designed to work) or just greedy.

The only failing specific to Obamacare that I can see as a real factor here is its neglect of coverage for integrative and complementary medicine in fulfilling its mandate to improve prevention and wellness care and reduce costs. Many forward-thinking health-care professionals are choosing these disciplines because they work better than the traditional allopathic industry, which has long been hijacked by Big Pharma, mechanistic thinking and profit motive. I'd like to hope that Congress will tweak the ACA to bring these smart, science-based professionals into the system sometime relatively soon. We'll see.

The truly ironic thing here is that had Obama not tried to start fixing our absurd health-care system, we'd still have these same problems, but the editor wouldn't be able to blame him for them.

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