Critical Condition

The Next Endangered Species: Doctors

When President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, it is doubtful anyone contemplated the “Humanis doctoris.” But despite recent efforts to open new medical schools and increase the size of existing medical school classes, a severe physician shortage looms on the horizon.

In November 2008 the Association of American Medical Colleges looked into the supply of doctors and predicted a shortage of 125,000 physicians by 2025. While these shortages may be most pronounced in primary care, they cover the gamut of medical and surgical subspecialties. There simply are not enough doctors in the pipeline. Unfortunately, the so-called health-care-reform legislation that recently passed via reconciliation along party lines will only exacerbate this trend, with the corollary being increased wait times for appointments and the inevitable rationing of care.

Obamacare presumably puts more patients into the health-care system, so extra doctors will be needed to treat the additional infusion. As the demand for doctors peaks, Obamacare does little to increase the supply. In fact, it will have physicians running in the opposite direction. An IBD/TIPP poll conducted prior to enactment found that 45 percent of practicing physicians would consider leaving their practice or retiring prematurely if reform passed. A more recent Medicus physician survey of over 1,000 physicians reached a similar conclusion.

Obamacare will bring the dearth of physicians to disastrous new levels. No doubt they may become the next endangered species, at least in their current form: the brightest, best educated, best trained, and most dedicated. Despite living in an environment that has become ever more hostile since Medicare’s implementation in 1965, this resourceful species has somehow managed to teeter on. Physicians deserve credit for demonstrating unparalleled resilience in the face of an increasingly litigious and bureaucratic habitat dominated by predatory regulators and third-party administrators. All things considered, it is amazing physicians have survived this long. It is important to remember that despite their ability to heal and save lives, as mere mortals they can only tolerate so much. Remember, even the symbol of American preeminence, the bald eagle, has been in extremis.

Obamacare may very well be the proverbial last straw. To describe the new law as bad for physicians would be an understatement. It transfers more control of important health care decisions typically made between doctor and patient to faceless unaccountables in Washington, D.C. It creates roughly 159 new committees, agencies, and bureaucracies with virtually limitless power to dictate physician decisions. As a result, doctors will encounter increasing bureaucracy, paperwork, diminishing autonomy, and declining job satisfaction. They will be compelled to waste more time complying with regulations and, as a consequence, have less time to devote to patients and the practice of good medicine. Time constraints will force physicians to see more patents in less time to maintain their own standard of living. Sick people and the quality of care will suffer the most.

Obamacare has the potential to put physicians on a one way path to extinction. Don’t believe it? Then whatever happened to Tyrannosaurus rex?

— Jason D. Fodeman, M.D. is an internal-medicine resident at the University of Connecticut and a former graduate health-policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Most Popular

U.S.

Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More
Books

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More
Education

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
U.S.

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More
PC Culture

A Herd Has No Mind

sup { vertical-align: super; font-size: smaller; } Funny thing about my new book: I had begun shopping around the proposal for writing it long before my brief period of employment with that other magazine and the subsequent witless chimp-brained media freakout and Caffeine-Free Diet Maoist struggle ... Read More