Obama’s health-care czar, Nancy Ann DeParle, laid bare this financial coercion. Writing recently in the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” she said that “the economic forces put in motion by [the Obama health-care plan] are likely to lead to vertical organization of providers and accelerate physician employment by hospitals and aggregation into larger physician groups.” Physicians, she said, “that accept the challenge will be rewarded in the future payment system” as ObamaCare “reforms” how doctors are paid under Medicare.
The term “reform” is highly suspect. Medicare is already notoriously known to pay doctors very little. So little, that many are abandoning the program and not taking Medicare patients at all! Therefore, whatever payment that somehow will magically be better than current reimbursements, where there is inability to at least break even, is unlikely to encourage doctors to participate in the Obamacare version of Medicare, let alone give them enticement to work with an even leaner Medicare spectrum of covered benefits.
The Obama plan contains other economic forces that will drive such “vertical integration” in which doctors become employees of hospitals and health plans. For one, under ObamaCare, health plans will see their revenue (premiums) and costs (medical benefits) largely fixed by government regulation. So the only way health plans can improve their profits is by cheapening the product that they provide, in other words, holding down the cost of the health coverage that they offer.
In turn, the only way to cheapen health coverage is to control the medical services consumers can access. The only way to tightly control the use of medical services is to exert more leverage over the doctors who order the tests and treatments. That means health plans will need to maintain tight networks of providers to exert more control over doctors — or else own the physicians outright. So expect to see health plans doing their own “vertical integration” — buying out medical practices, just like hospitals are doing.
The long and the short of it is that Obamacare will clamp down on doctors and essentially force them into networks that will control our care even more than they do today, pay less for it, and ultimately ration our care by limiting choices and options further.
“‘The doctor will see you… …next year. National health care means rationed health care.”
Image courtesy of http://www.moonbattery.com/archives/2009/06/more_obamacare.html.