Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Subscriber Services | 928 Media Lab | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Obits | Yellow Pages | TV Listings | Contact Us
The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials May 22, 2015

6/24/2013 6:04:00 AM
Editorial: Health care tough without doctors

It was predictable - yet probably not at the forefront in many minds - that the law of unintended consequences is rearing its head with passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The Associated Press painted a grim picture in articles it published this past weekend that point to what could be a crisis: With the flood of new patients who will have medical care coverage come Jan. 1, the shortage of primary care doctors that already exists, especially in rural areas, will only get worse.

Across the country, millions who gain coverage will be in line for doctors' care, and in Arizona, the state expects to absorb nearly 800,000 newly insured people in years to come - a number that is just now coming into full view.

Obviously, doctors are not turned out assembly-line style. Before a physician can attach M.D. (doctor of medicine) to his name, he or she goes through rigorous training and credentialing before setting up practice. And, they are watched over by state medical boards.

According to AP, the federal government has identified nearly 400 designated health professional shortage areas across Arizona. Among this number are 140 that don't have enough primary care doctors, while the remainder of the number includes dentists and mental health professionals.

To meet the demand, the Arizona Department of Health Services says the state now needs a minimum of 300 more primary care physicians, 250 dentists and 130 psychiatrists.

Arizona isn't the only state, of course, in this jam. Overall, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the country will be short upwards of 60,000 doctors in 10 years.

The looming crisis is prompting some "out of the box" thinking to get more healthcare professionals in the field. Some of this thinking has merit. Some raises red flags.

Texas has approved two public medical schools. New York is spending millions to place more doctors in underserved areas. And, Florida allows optometrists to prescribe oral medications to treat eye disease.

But, the Florida plan is about as much latitude that we should accept in what healthcare providers are qualified and allowed to do. New Mexico quashed a measure that would allow dental therapists to practice medicine, and Illinois nixed a proposal that would have given more decision-making authority to psychologists, dentists and advanced practice nurses.

All of these practitioners - and a lot of alternative healthcare providers - play a vital role in their specific specialties, but to permit them to stretch too far beyond their training could be dangerous.

There won't be an inexpensive solution to this shortfall.

The Affordable Care Act provides for insurance for people who otherwise wouldn't be able to get it, but they may not be able to find a doctor to get the care they need.

What irony.

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Rollover or abandoned? (2510 views)

•   Obituary: Carolyn Sims Dicus (2430 views)

•   Jury selected in ALS murder trial (1932 views)

•   Wet, cool weather keeps fire bans at bay (1388 views)

•   US agencies looking into whether Mueller was kept by IS leader (1373 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: J K

Just to clarify on another commenter's point, The Trailblazer program which reimburses medical providers for emergency life saving care to undocumented aliens began in 2003 under Bush. It is an expansion of the ETLMA which was created during the Reagan years. It is not a part of the ACA. The ACA specifically forbids undocumented alien participation. We would have the trailblazer program whether or not Obamacare was passed. Consequently, the Trailblazer program could be abolished and it would have no effect on the ACA.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Hokas Pokas

@ Amused MD and Right On The Money:

I agree wholeheartedly with you both!

The problem with our health care system is no one wants to take responsibility for their own health and, they don't want to pay for their health care. How many people have you met that have a story about how their doctor is "over paid". I wish I had a dollar . . .

These problems began way back in 1965 when the government got involved and started the Medicare program.

As for European style health care systems: the doctors earn a lot less money and the people pay a lot more in taxes.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Right On The Money

Tell a young person that they will spend 7-8 years in college, another 3 in an internship, rack up $250,000 in medical school debt, and get paid $0.25 for every dollar they bill. I wouldn't do it. Would you? That is the root of the problem. No one, not the insurance, not medicare, not the general populace wants to pay for medical services. Everyone wants someone else to foot the bill for medical care. But, by golly if the Doc makes 1 mistake, it's time to sue.

Maybe when ALL of us quit looking for someone else to foot the bill, and are willing to pay for medical treatment ourselves the situation will change. I guess I'm just old enough to remember when we only went to the doctor when we were sick, and the only treatment provided was essential and we paid for it ourselves because we had no medical insurance.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Federal Goverment is Already Paying for Illegals

Having worked at the local hospital and seeing the payments come in from the Federal Government paying for illegal immigrants I can assure you the government will NOT stop paying their medical bills. The name of the program that pays hospitals for illegals is "Trail Blazers". Sad huh! When I think of "Trail Blazers" I think of Louis and Clark.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: AUTOMATED HEALTHCARE

Looks like 2014 will be the perfect year to implement vastly more automation into healthcare.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Not enough Money

That is the heart of the problem. Health care was not available to everybody because not everybody had enough money to buy health care. Health care was not being provided by emergency rooms or county clinics sufficient for the need. There still is not enough money, but at least the problem is clear: we do not have enough money for everyone to have health care and that is why there are not enough doctors.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: @ Amused MD

Being dependent in part myself on a physician's income, I am keenly interested in the upcoming changes. I will be very interested in learning, for example, if the health care exchanges in states that have enacted tort-reform will have lower premiums than those in states that have not enacted tort-reform. One of the "goods" (if nothing else) that will come from the change is a better availability to compare apples to apples when discussing insurance premiums. Might not be enough to justify the changes, but that at least will be a step in the right direction.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: basketball sized shrimp

"Remember, clown faced-hitler and the Tea Party funded by the health insurance corporation by way of Dick Army's Freedom-works? Death panels, birth certificates, Kenya colonial mindsets and 49%'ers?"

Have you run out of meds? Clown faced hitler and the tea party? Surely, you speak in some kind of "secret" code only libs understand.

Please condescend, and share your encryption!

I sure can't wait for all the illegals to line up for their free health care (which I paid for) at the few remaining bone saws left. Great news for illegals, bad news for long time tax payers here legally.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Tired of business as usual...

And Editor: you actually "believe" tha the AHCA was intended to "help" people? You are indeed misguided. Only insurance companies are "helped" by this governmental fraud. (Oh, yes, AND the IRS)

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Makes me Sick

Build a mosque and we'll get more Doctors? What a racist gross comment. I work in the medical community here in Prescott, & some of the comments I'm reading make me sick. The "Pakistani" Doctors you refer to are some of the best Doctor's I've ever worked with. Fleecing people for unnecessary tests & overcharging Medicare for procedures not performed? Oh yes. It's rampant up here at a few facilities, but not with the Doctors who are being made fun of in these comments. The shortage of Physicians in the US has been going on for over a decade. You can blame that on the Government of old. All the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid chased the greedy ones or the broke ones right out of practice, along with some of the best nurses in the nation when the Doc's couldn't pay to keep them anymore. As a patient, be responsible and look closely at what your physician is ordering for you. Ask questions. Be proactive in your own health. If patients would stand up and have a voice instead of following their doctor around blind, it would certainly help the healthcare situation smooth out in this country. Part of the problem comes from people who just want to stay on the couch and take a pill or do a procedure for their ailments rather than get up & take responsibility for their actions & their health.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Amused MD

If you want to find a reason why we have a growing doctor shortage get up and find a mirror. Each and everyone of you is the reason. People shouted and stamped their feet that the specialists get paid too much. So their fees have been cut, drastically. This after they shouted that doctors got paid too much in general , so the primary care guys took the first hit. Next everyone complained that the high cost of medicine in general was because of the doctors getting paid too much (false) so their pay got cut again. Oh, and by the way, lets ignore tort reform because everybody wants the opportunity for that big cash in on doctors. So in summary, lets underpay people that sit there and listen to our problems (real or imagined, serious or trivial) while continuing to make doctors jobs the one where one mistake can cost them everything. Then let's sit back and complain about how there aren't enough doctors and the one's we have are so scared of making a mistake that they over order tests. Yeah, get up and find that mirror right now and when you're looking into it, ask yourself some tough questions for a change. Oh yeah, and don't lie back to yourself when you answer those tough questions.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Leno would love your Headline!

"Editorial: Health care tough without doctors."

Let's explore some others.

"Cars don't go with no gas." "Life requires heartbeat!!" "Niggardly really is a word!!" "Men and Women are different."

Here's one: "OMG, Editorial lol. PVC is hashtagged open, Yoh!!"

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: The problem Is front line

providers. As long as front line providers are paid much less than docs selling "procedures" then med schools will produce non-front line providers. Same pressures as in nursing. This shortage demonstrates that, no, contrary to he claims of the availability of ER treatment and health clinics, lots of people were not receiving care (else we would not be faced with a shortage now).

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: The Rev

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, shortened now by some to simply "Affordable Care Act" and called by others Obamacare did not cause this shortage of doctors. How much it will accelerate the issue remains unknown.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Investment opportunity for better care

Seems that the quantity and quantity of doctors, and the quality of health, would be exactly the same before, as after implementation of the ACA, except pumping more money into the health care system by way of the newly insured.

Maybe the problem is not is the quantity of health care professionals, but the quality of the patients. That is the unstated objection.

Remember, clown faced-hitler and the Tea Party funded by the health insurance corporation by way of Dick Army's Freedom-works? Death panels, birth certificates, Kenya colonial mindsets and 49%'ers?

But go on, I'm listening.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: J K

There are provisions in the affordable care act to address the shortage of doctors such as one that pays for the training of medical students who agree to practice in underserved locations.
Be that as it may, what makes you think your healthcare should be more important than another human being's. When you complain that the wait for your service will be delayed because someone that heretofore was denied service will now be given an opportunity to buy health insurance, what you are really saying is "my needs trump your needs".
Further there has been no indication that doctors will quit practicing because of the ACA. What would they do other than what they are trained for. Work for Jiffy Lube or be a greeter at Wal Mart? ? Medical professionals have always retired at some point in their careers.
And Miss Duke. Maybe you should do a little research. The ACA specifically forbids illegal immigrants from participating in the ACA.
But here's a suggestion for all those predicting long waits for care. Cancel your health insurance and pay the fine. Then find a doctor who will accept cash, you know one of those retired ones who are looking for work. That way the rest of us will have a shorter wait time, and you won't have to wait at all. Oh maybe a little. You'll be behind the Caddy at Jiffy Lube.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: OOPS 2 U

Don't get sick, make sure you're covered, OR, pay up! OBAMACARE?

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

The baby boomer doctors are getting ready for retirement, and most of them can retire now, they just like doing medicine. Once that thrill goes away they will head for the sidelines in droves. Rural communities can't attract the young doctors they don't make enough money and their wives hate it here. We get the ones that can't make it in the city or the old guys or both.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Facts no longer matter

It's a little late to have facts influence this debate. Obama is a genius, and Obamacare is wonderful, is spite of what has become almost constant evidence to the contrary. Anybody that thinks differently is a racist.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Biz Guy

Being a doctor isn't actually that good of a deal these days. The training and educational requirements are very expensive in terms of both time and money, and once in practice they spend at least as much time, sometimes much more, jumping through hoops to get paid as they do practicing medicine. The availability of insurance was only one part of our broken healthcare system.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Another Possibility

As has been pointed out the lack of physicians is not a new concern nor is it specific to Obamacare. It is actually true worldwide.

One thing other countries (whose health care programs are infinitely better than ours) are doing is accelerating the education and promoting the use of Nurse Practioners. Why should someone have to wait, see and pay for a physician to tell them their kid has a cold or there is something questionable in the lungs that should possibly be further checked out, etc.

Numerous studies show that the outcomes of patients who see NP's rather than MD's (in terms of wait times, recovery times, missed work and so on) are equivalent or better.

Here I've seen numerous NP's and have been pleased with the results.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Baker

I can say for certain that the main reason many physicians are taking early retirement is "Obamacare"!

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: I'm a retired local doctor.

The ACA won't help the doctor shortage of the quality of healthcare. Healthcare in the US is declining. It's worse than Europe by far, and far more expensive. The thing in America is to order a lot of tests and do a lot of uneeded procedures and surgeries. That's how doctors and hospitals make money. And the stupid public just does what they say because the insurance company pays for it. I could tell them do jump off a roof and they'd probably do it. I could tell them to have a colonoscopy every year and a mammagram every 6 months and they'd do it! (I've never had either test.) It's all about the fees.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Clarissa Duke

I especially appreciate the fact that my hard-earned money will be used to pay the medical bills for all the illegals here. That just warms the cockles of my heart!

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Here's What Doctors Need:

We need to build some mosques to attract doctors. There's one in Kingman and they have tons of doctors. Not sure I'd want to go to any of them but they have plenty. Build a mosque, attract a doctor.

  - Page 1 -  Page 2

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE- Rants&Raves

Quick Links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

 •  Submit your milestone notice

 •  Submit your letter to the editor

 •  Submit a news tip or story idea

 •  Place a classified ad online now

 •  Browse the Yellow Pages

Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Submit Other Publications Links
Classifieds | Subscriber Services | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Find Prescott Jobs | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
© Copyright 2015 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Daily Courier is the information source for Prescott area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, dcourier.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved