Critical Condition

Medical Brain Drain

The New England Journal of Medicine’s Career Center has a report by the Medicus Firm talking about how the Democrats’ health bills would drive doctors out of the profession. According to the report, “nearly one-third of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they will want to leave medical practice after health reform is implemented.” At the same time, they report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the U.S. will need 22 percent more doctors by 2018. Worse, 46 percent of primary-care docs said that they would leave or try to leave medicine as a result of the proposed overhaul’s changes to the system.

Reasons that doctors would want to leave include a fear that “reform could result in a significant decline in the overall quality of medical care nationwide” and that “reform will cause income to decrease, while workload will increase.”

And it’s not as if the doctors surveyed are opposed to health reform. Only 4 percent think no change is necessary, but 63 percent prefer a more gradual approach.

This double hit — doctors exiting the profession at a time of increased need — could severely curtail access to docs over the next decade. As Medicus’s Steve Marsh put it “health reform could impact physician supply in such a way that the quality of health care could suffer.”

Tevi Troy is a presidential historian and former White House aide.

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