Health Reform: A new survey finds almost half of America's physicians are experiencing burnout. As depressing as that is, imagine how much worse it will be after the boot of Obama-Care is fully dug into doctors' necks.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic talked to 7,288 doctors and found that 45.8% of them reported at least one symptom of burnout. Some are emotionally exhausted, while others have developed feelings of depersonalization toward their patients. Still others feel a great degree of cynicism.
The causes of these symptoms read like a checklist of nightmares that physicians will be having regularly under ObamaCare. These include crushing workloads, overflowing paperwork, diminished professional autonomy and increased patient loads to compensate for falling reimbursement rates.
When all provisions of the Democrats' Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are implemented, doctors will indeed be facing increased workloads.
With tens of millions of Americans gaining health insurance coverage — universal coverage is one of Obama-Care's goals — doctors will find their already crowded waiting rooms teeming with even more patients.
This problem will be made worse by two outside factors.
One, our own polling found three years ago that adoption of a universal health care law such as ObamaCare would prompt hundreds of thousands of doctors to think about leaving the profession.
Four of nine respondents to the IBD/TIPP Poll said they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" under such conditions.
Two, even without ObamaCare, there is a physician shortage coming. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be as many as 125,000 fewer doctors in 2025 than will be needed.
Moving on, doctors working under the ObamaCare regime will also be saddled with more paperwork than they're already handling. There's no way around it. Wherever there is government, there is paper-shuffling, and the regulatory wave caused by ObamaCare is likely to be overwhelming.
Health care analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute predicts, for good reason, that ObamaCare will "drown" doctors "in bureaucracy."
Third on the checklist is doctors' loss of professional autonomy under the health care overhaul.
For instance, the law requires that, according to the Heartland Institute, "a physician-owned hospital must apply for approval from the Department of Health and Human Services, wait out a community approval period and be in an area where certain population measures are met."
So rather than having the freedom to make decisions for themselves, doctors will be subject to others' decisions. Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth made the same observation when she said ObamaCare was set up "to eliminate entrepreneurial approaches to medicine" and is likely to promote doctor unionization.
Our own polling indicated that doctors feared health care reform would turn out to be a type of socialized medicine, and that "unelected, unaccountable, ignorant bureaucrats" would be making decisions that should be left to doctors and patients under their care.
Finally, under ObamaCare, doctors will be forced to see more patients to make up for reimbursement rates that are scheduled to fall.
Nearly a year ago, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted to cut payments to doctors. All but primary-care physicians would have their reimbursements cut by 5.9% each year for three years. After that, the fee schedule will be frozen for seven years. Meanwhile, reimbursement rates for primary-care physicians would be set at today's levels for an entire decade.
Under such coercive and burdensome conditions, who wouldn't burn out? And who is going to replace the doctors who felt they were run out of the profession?
The Democrats who forced ObamaCare on the country don't have the answers. But that's what happens when lawmakers throw a government solution at every problem, both the real and the perceived.