Kevin Drum, political blogger for Mother Jones, stated in his Aug. 7, 2012 article "Why Obamacare Probably Won't Lead to Doctor Shortages," available at www.MotherJones.com:
"I'm not all that worried about a doctor shortage after Obamacare fully kicks in in 2014. It's not that the fear is totally groundless. If you put a lot more patients into the medical system, that's likely to make hospitals and doctors' offices more crowded. But there's also a lot of evidence for a substantial supply-side effect on medical care: the more doctors a city has, the more treatment people get, whether they need it or not. Likewise, if a hospital buys an expensive piece of equipment, they're highly motivated to keep it in constant use whether it's really necessary or not.
So yes: more patients might cause more crowding. It's a reasonable concern. But there's a pretty good chance that it's mostly going to crowd out a fair amount of unnecessary care, like the stuff HCA [Hospital Corporation of America] is accused of providing. That will eat into bottom lines, but it won't necessarily make it any harder to see a doctor when your kid has an ear infection. We'll just have to wait and see.”
Will Obamacare Worsen the Primary Physician Shortage?
Suzanne Sataline, writer for The Wall Street Journal, and Shirley S. Wang, Health Reporter and In the Lab Columnist at The Wall Street Journal, wrote in their Apr. 12, 2010 article “Medical Schools Can’t Keep Up,” available at online.wsj.com:
"The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors.
Experts warn there won't be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000.
The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.
The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007."
Grace-Marie Turner, President of the Galen Institute, wrote in her July 30, 2012 blog post, “Good Luck Finding a Doctor under Obamacare,” available at www.nationalreview.com:
"The health overhaul law expands health insurance to millions more people without significantly increasing the number of physicians or other providers. And Obamacare has exacerbated the physician shortage because many are considering leaving the practice of medicine altogether rather than practice under the dictates of Washington bureaucracies…
The supply of doctors will dwindle as demand for services reaches an all-time high. Fewer of those in private practice are taking patients on Medicare, and even fewer can afford to see the millions of new patients likely to be enrolled in Medicaid.
By increasing demand for care without a comparable increase in the supply of doctors to treat the additional infusion of patients, the law will exacerbate the current physician shortage…”
Pete Olson, JD, US Representative (R-TX), in an Aug. 1, 2012 blog post, "Obama's Reforms Will Lead to Ruin," available on www.thehill.com, wrote:
"On the patient-care side, while parts of the new law have yet to take effect, negative aspects are already being felt now. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the United States will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. Compounding this troubling shortage are the results of a recent study by Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare that indicates 34 percent of physicians say they plan to leave the practice of medicine over the next decade, in part due to low compensation, high costs and a surge in regulations that accompany ObamaCare. This doctor shortage will mean that patient care will involve longer waits for fewer doctors.”
The American College of Physicians (ACP) stated in their Apr. 7, 2010 fact sheet "Ensuring an Adequate Supply of Primary Care Internists and Other Specialties Facing Shortages," available at www.acponline.org:
"The recently enacted PPACA (H.R. 3590) includes numerous policies to train more primary care physicians and increase the supply of primary care physicians. These policies include: mandatory and increased discretionary funding for the National Health Service Corp (NHSC), reauthorization of Section 747 of Title VII, Training in Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics, and Physician Assistantship; creation of a Primary Care Training Extension Program and increased faculty scholarship loans, redistribution of 65% of the current unused Graduate Medical Education slots to primary care and general surgery and allowing residents to count their time spent in ambulatory settings to count towards their residency requirements, such as physician offices and community health centers; and the establishment of Teaching Health Centers, creating primary care residency programs in non-hospital settings."
Kaiser Family Foundation's Apr. 15, 2011 "Focus on Health Reform: Summary of New Health Reform Law," available at www.kff.org, explains:
"[The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will] improve workforce training and development:
– Establish a multi-stakeholder Workforce Advisory Committee to develop a national workforce strategy. (Appointments made by September 30, 2010)
– Increase the number of Graduate Medical Education (GME) training positions by redistributing currently unused slots, with priorities given to primary care and general surgery and to states with the lowest resident physician-to-population ratios (effective July 1, 2011); increase flexibility in laws and regulations that govern GME funding to promote training in outpatient settings (effective July 1, 2010); and ensure the availability of residency programs in rural and underserved areas. Establish Teaching Health Centers, defined as community-based, ambulatory patient care centers, including federally qualified health centers and other federally-funded health centers that are eligible for payments for the expenses associated with operating primary care residency programs. (Funds appropriated for five years beginning fiscal year 2011)
– Increase workforce supply and support training of health professionals through scholarships and loans; support primary care training and capacity building; provide state grants to providers in medically underserved areas; train and recruit providers to serve in rural areas; establish a public health workforce loan repayment program; provide medical residents with training in preventive medicine and public health; promote training of a diverse workforce; and promote cultural competence training of health care professionals. (Effective dates vary) Support the development of interdisciplinary mental and behavioral health training programs (effective fiscal year 2010) and establish a training program for oral health professionals. (Funds appropriated for six years beginning in fiscal year 2010)…”