Obamacare | The Government's Takeover of Health Care
Florida to Experience Doctor Shortage Under Obamacare
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 08:05
Written by Chuck Justice
Florida is one of the first states to face the harsh realities of Obamacare: it creates a doctor shortage. When 30 million Americans are forced to join the health care system, with the doctor levels staying at close to their current level, there aren't enough physicians to treat patients. In California, they're looking to have pharmacists act as primary care physicians, which opens up an entirely new suite of issues. The case is clear, however: states will face a doctor shortage under Obamacare, leading to unsafe situations.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida, who campaigned on opposing Obamacare, changed his mind last week and accepted the federal government's program to expand health care, forcing the state to pick up a larger chunk of the health care tab over the long term. This will lead to a massive influx of individuals added to the health care system, which will lead to a doctor shortage.
Whether you're employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there's a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.
And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott's recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.
"Florida needs more doctors and it needs more nurses, and it needs them working together in teams," said Rebecca O'Hara, a lobbyist for the FMA.
About 15 million Floridians have health insurance today, and Obamacare, which requires most adults to have coverage by January, could add as many as 2.5 million more. One million would come through a potential expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program that Scott announced this week he was backing. The others would be the result of new mandates requiring employers and individuals to have insurance or be fined.
Currently, the state has 44,804 doctors, but about 5,600 of them are expected to retire in the next five years. And even though Florida has opened three new medical schools in the past dozen years, the state isn't producing as many doctors as it needs. Scott's budget this year has $80 million to fund programs to train 700 new residents a year, in hopes they'll remain in the state.
Of all patients, people covered by Medicaid may have the hardest time finding a doctor; only 59 percent of the state's physicians are taking new Medicaid patients, according to a Kaiser Health News study.
Committees in both the House and Senate have been meeting for the past two months to discuss implementation of the Affordable Care Act. On March 4, they expect to see two major studies by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, one that looks at the overall economic impact of the health-care overhaul and another that simply examines Medicaid expansion.
And Florida is just one state. This will happen in every state, as the country isn't equipped to add 30 million Americans to the health care system and have enough doctors. Every American will face longer wait times to see their doctors, much like every government-run, socialized medical system in the world. Six week wait to see your doctor? Get used to it - reality is right around the corner.
Chuck Justice is the editor-in-chief for Habledash.