By Dick Morris - 11/17/09 10:28 PM EST
Joseph Stubbs, president of the American College of Physicians — the
second-largest doctors’ group in the country — confirms that “the
supply of doctors just won’t be there” for the 30 million new patients
President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaObama 'not pulling any punches' at WHCD speech WATCH LIVE: Obama to headline WHCA dinner Five ways Trump will attack Clinton MORE wants to cover. Noting that the doctor shortage is “already a catastrophic crisis,” Stubbs noted that underserved areas in the U.S. currently need almost 17,000 new primary care physicians even before Obama’s proposals are enacted.
In the meantime, according to Bloomberg News, a 2009 survey by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a recruiting and research firm in Irving, Texas, found that “the average waiting time to see a family-medicine doctor in Boston … is 63 days, the most among the 15 cities” surveyed. By comparison, in Miami, it was only seven days. The study noted that Boston’s longer wait was “driven in part by the healthcare reform initiative” passed in 2006 in Massachusetts, upon which the Obama program is modeled. Bloomberg reported that “as many as half of doctors in the state have closed their practices to new patients, forcing many of the newly insured to turn to emergency rooms for care.”
Additionally, a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the federal government’s Health and Human Services Department, found that expanding insurance coverage to an estimated 32 million people who now lack it would create a demand for medical services that “could be difficult to meet initially … and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage.”
Indeed, the report found that the Medicare cuts contained in the House-passed bill are likely to “prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.”
The dynamic of the healthcare debate is decidedly turning against the administration. As details of the doctor shortage, Medicare cuts, tax increases, penalties for no insurance, shallow subsidies and high costs for the uninsured all leak out, more and more Americans are developing qualms about the bill.
But then it will hit a wall as the chambers try to reconcile their different versions so as to satisfy the liberal House and Obama’s base on the one hand and the most conservative among the 60 Democratic senators on the other. This debate will focus on such a broad range of issues and will be so contentious that it is going to take a long time to resolve.
Meanwhile, popular angst with the bill will continue to build and Election Day will approach. More and more members will be anxious about supporting the bill and both left and right will dig in their heels and resist compromise.
The healthcare bill may pass both houses, but may not be able to be enacted into law. The tide of public opinion cannot be resisted.
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonFive ways Trump will attack Clinton Trump aide: We’re prepared to hit Clinton with Lewinsky Trump: Clinton 'dishonest' and an 'enabler' MORE, is the author of Outrage and Fleeced. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Catastrophe, go to dickmorris.com. In August, Morris became a strategist for the League of American Voters, which is running ads opposing the president’s healthcare reforms.