This is the third poll to say this. The first two were the Medicus Poll and the IBD Poll.
When we said nearly half of U.S. doctors might close their practices or retire early rather than live under the Democrats’ health overhaul, we were heavily criticized. The critics, though, were wrong.
Four in nine doctors responding to an IBD/TIPP poll sent out in August 2009 said they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if Congress passed what has become known as ObamaCare. That means as many as 360,000 physicians have plans to be doing something other than treating the growing number of patients in this country.
The doctors also told us — 67% to 22%, with 11% not responding — that they expected fewer students to apply for medical school in the future if the plan became law.
Given these views, it’s no surprise that 71% were doubtful that the government would be able to cover the 47 million uninsured Americans with better care at lower costs, which ObamaCare supporters have promised.
Other findings from our poll of 1,376 doctors included: six in 10 agreeing that the Democrats’ plan would strip drug companies of the incentives they need to make lifesaving pharmaceuticals, and 65% believing that a government overhaul would lead to lower-quality care for seniors.
The critics said our poll was not credible, was “shabby” and “garbage.” They accused IBD of being partisan, pursuing an agenda, trying to sway gullible readers with shameless journalism.
Useful rhetoric for keeping the left stirred up, but it was nothing more than an attempt to poison findings the critics didn’t like.
Now a Merritt Hawkins survey of 2,379 doctors for the Physicians Foundation completed in August has vindicated our poll. It found that 40% of doctors said they would “retire, seek a nonclinical job in health care, or seek a job or business unrelated to health care” over the next three years as the overhaul is phased in.
Of those who said they planned to retire, 28% are 55 or younger and nearly half (49%) are 60 or younger.
A larger portion (74%) said they plan to make “one or more significant changes in their practices in the next one to three years, a time when many provisions of health reform will be phased in.”
In addition to retirement, and finding nonclinical jobs elsewhere, those changes include working part time, closing practices to new patients, employment at a hospital, cutting back on the number of patients and switching to a cash or concierge practice.
A deeper look at the results reveals eight in 10 believe ObamaCare “will erode the viability of the private practice model” while six in 10 are convinced they will be compelled to “close or significantly restrict” their practices to at least one category of patient.
Over half (56%) said they believe the government takeover will affect the quality of care they are able to provide their patients and 86% said doctors weren’t “adequately represented to policymakers and the public during the run-up to passage of health reform.”
It’s significant that the Physicians Foundation survey was taken from the membership of the American Medical Association.
After initially indicating opposition to ObamaCare, that group supported the legislation. For that reason, Dr. Marc Siegel said Tuesday on Fox News that he would be “more worried about non-AMA members and what they have to say.”
We think that we already covered that concern with our 2009 poll.
Doctors simply don’t like what the Democrats have force-fed them. A large segment of the healing profession says it’s willing to close its doors rather than endure the problems that will be created by the overhaul.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of outcome that’s expected when lawmakers leave common sense behind and work far outside their moral and constitutional authority.