Healthcare Business News

'Whistling past the cemetery'

Posted: November 9, 2012 - 9:00 am ET

Regarding “Healthcare industry leaders react to Obama's re-election”: It seems to me that—with the number and size of institutions at year 2000 levels, with increasing patient loads of some 16 million-plus new Medicaid patients, 4 million each year in new Medicare patients and about the same number or more state plan participants, along with the known shortage of trained, licensed physicians and nurses—the commenters appear to be “whistling past the cemetery”!

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Patients having had no or little care in the past need more care, and receiving insurance, they use it more often. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done a study that found 33% of the inadequate physician supply will not accept new Medicaid patients, and 18% won't be accepting any new patients, including Medicare. Look closely, and you will see that physicians aren't being mean, but are no longer willing to work 60 to 80 hour weeks, nor will nurses and other providers. Newly licensed physicians refuse to work over 40 hours and want to go on to specialize. I haven't done a study, but it looks to me like a majority of existing docs and nurses are at or near retirement or at a point in life where they want to slow down if not retire. So who will be left out of care if there isn't enough to go around, and who will get the money? It seems the future will see the working poor and the middle class will find the supply “just right” as the old will do with less!

Robert Young

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