It looks like the sky is falling, according to the 2014 Watch List released by the Physicians Foundation. Sure, we paraphrased a bit here but there’s not much that docs are optimistic about except the repealing of the Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula.
“While the promise of a better future for healthcare remains, the current path is leading us toward a more monopolistic, bureaucratic and costly healthcare system,” Lou Goodman, Physicians Foundation president and Texas Medical Association executive vice president and CEO, said in a news release. “It is critical for policymakers to more regularly seek the counsel of physicians as they begin to implement health reform, since they are the true voice in determining the future of patient care.”
The Watch List identified five issues that it claims would affect both how well and how efficiently physicians can deliver high quality, professional and compassionate care:
- A trend from consolidation to monopolization
- Growing regulatory burdens
- Insurance-related confusion
- Health information technology shortfalls
- Continued government stalemates—if not over the SGR, then over tort reform and other potential obstacles to government-funded reimbursements.
Modern Healthcare, who reported the release, said, “The foundation cited monopolization concerns involving healthcare systems and insurance companies that often compel small practices to forgo their independence.” We’ve seen this story play out. Remember the physician who insisted on spending 30 minutes with her patients, instead of the 10 allocated by her superiors? When doctors are turned are turned into factors of production for large hospitals and networks, the profit is derived from quantity more so than quality.
Modern Healthcare added, “Insurance-related concerns involve both problems linked to technical troubles with insurance exchanges as well as new collection duties that come with treating newly covered patients who aren’t accustomed to paying higher copays and deductibles.” Yikes. Insurance concerns are already proving to be a nightmare. Viable plans were just cancelled in New York. And we’re reading about “demands” from the HHS that insurance companies now provide free plans to subscribers who’ve lost coverage because of Obamacare. But that’s not the end. A direct care clinic in Wisconsin shut its doors recently after citing difficulty enrolling patients who were confused about what would happen with Obamacare.
So on the whole, healthcare’s horizon is bleak. Things look like they’re moving towards more bureaucracy and higher costs. Despite the grim forecasting, direct care is ready to push forward, although maybe that’s because we’re heading in the opposite direction. Fingers crossed…