Echoing the sentiments of several Republicans and Democrats who have rallied against the bill, the physicians claim that the reform will reduce the quality of American medical care.
Kevin Perpetua, managing partner for the Medicus Firm, explains, “Many physicians feel that they cannot continue to practice if patient loads increase while pay decreases.” Perpetua adds that physicians accumulate an average debt of $140,000 in school loans. Coupled with pay decreases, potential medical students may feel deterred from pursuing a career in medicine. In fact, 36 percent of physicians currently say that they would not recommend the medical profession to others, even without the passage of health care reform. If Obamacare passes, an additional 27 percent affirm that they would not recommend medicine as a career.
This is in direct contrast to what Congressional Democrats have indicated, claiming that an “unprecedented coalition” of doctors are in support of the bill. The claim is based on the American Medical Association’s endorsement of the legislation, but of the 660,000 practicing physicians and surgeons in the United States, a mere 250,000 are members of the AMA. Of that 250,000, nearly 100,000 are medical students.
Andrea Santiago, a spokeswoman for the Medicus Firm, asserts that the standpoint of the physicians has been wholly unrepresented in the current debate.
The information provided in the survey should not be too much of a shock, since doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals rallied in Washington, D.C., in September 2009 against the proposed reform. Protestors from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons bore signs that read, “Doctors know patients care”, “Leave my patients alone”, and “No to Socialized Medicine.” In fact, Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urologist from Atlanta, founded Docs for Patient Care to voice doctors’ opposition to the proposed "reform." The group presented a petition to Congress that can be found at TakeBackMedicine.com.
The physicians surveyed by the Medicus Firm assert that they are not against health care reform in general, but are opposed to the current legislation. In fact, Santiago explains that 96 percent of the physicians are in favor of health reform. She adds, “The fact that so many physicians surveyed want health reform, but relatively few are in favor of the current legislation, was one of the most significant, telling results.”
Dr. Shannon Norris, radiologist from Atlanta describes Obamacare as offering “the efficiency of the Postal Service, the sustainability of Social Security and all the compassion of the IRS.”
The medical journal explains that while the loss of half of the nation’s physicians seems unlikely, significant decrease in the number of physicians will occur as an expected side effect of the legislation.
Photo: Tea Party protesters against Obamacare outside the office of Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), in Schaumburg, Ill.: AP Images