To Repeat: Doctors Could Hang It Up

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Health Overhaul: We were harshly criticized last September for an IBD/TIPP Poll that showed 45% of doctors would consider leaving medicine if a health care takeover passed. A new poll has vindicated our findings.

Our questionnaire went out Aug. 28 to some 25,600 doctors nationwide. Of that substantial sample, we got 1,476 responses. One hundred of those were retired, leaving 1,376.

At the time, virtually no one had stopped to ask doctors how they felt about the medical takeover being discussed in Congress. We thought it was vital to ask them, since any overhaul would rise or fall on its implementation by doctors themselves.

To say we were stunned with the results is an understatement.

Of the physicians queried, 45% said they'd consider closing their practice or retiring early if the overhaul then being considered were enacted. Also, 65% said they opposed the government's attempts at taking over the health care system. Just 33% supported it.

Given that the White House and Congress both promised then — as they do now — to provide health care coverage for 31 million new patients while at the same time cutting costs from the $2.4 trillion a year we spend on medical care, we thought it was important to reveal that doctors wouldn't go along with it.

What we found was that of the 800,000 physicians practicing in the U.S. in 2006, as many as 360,000 might leave the profession. So with the proposed overhaul, we'd be trying to cover 31 million more patients with up to 45% fewer doctors.

Impossible. It can't be done.

What came after the Sept. 16 article in which we detailed our poll results was bizarre and in some ways disheartening. A number of liberal groups attacked us for telling the truth, hinting that we were lying, part of an ideological conspiracy or just incompetent.

"IBD/TIPP Doctors Poll Is Not Trustworthy," ran the headline of one much-read piece on the FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right blog. The Huffington Post attacked the very integrity of our poll: "Investor's Business Daily Publishes Ludicrous Poll Claiming 45% Of Doctors Would Quit Over Reform."

Meanwhile, after the poll was aired on Fox News Channel, Media Matters, the liberal watchdog, went with the relatively sedate "Just in case you needed another reason not to listen to Investor's Business Daily," then called it "garbage."

Others were far less kind, but because we're circulated at a number of schools across the nation, we can't reprint the comments here. Suffice to say that many of those comments lacked logical coherence and often contained language that failed to measure up to minimal standards of civil discourse and polite political debate.

Why bring all this back up? For no other reason than to note that a new poll completely vindicates our findings of last summer.

This poll, conducted by the Medicus Firm, a physician search and consulting outfit, found that 29.2% of the nearly 1,200 doctors it queried said they would quit or retire early if a health overhaul were passed into law. That number jumped to 45.7% — nearly identical to our own — if a public option were included.

This poll, by the way, was published as an insert in the New England Journal of Medicine — one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

While the poll doesn't necessarily reflect the views of the journal, would the editors allow a poll in their peer-reviewed medical publication if they thought it were false? Not likely.

In the end, it's clear: A health care overhaul, as it's now being pushed, could lead to a precipitous drop in the number of doctors.

"Many physicians feel that they cannot continue to practice if patient loads increase while pay decreases," wrote Kevin Perpetua, managing partner of the Medicus Firm, summing up his findings.

So for the record, we still stand by our findings. Our poll wasn't "ludicrous" or "untrustworthy." It was dead-on. And it's still relevant.

Just last week, President Obama stood in front of a carefully selected group of doctors all wearing smocks to give the impression that ObamaCare has broad physician support. It doesn't. It was nothing but a phony photo-op. But don't take our word for it. Ask a doctor

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