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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Obamacare Set To Worsen Florida's Doctor Shortage

Florida Governor Rick Scott's reversal on Obamacare is going to hurt more than his political career.  According to the Florida Medical Association, a doctors advocacy group, the Governor's recent action in recommending to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — as part of Obamacare, an already existent shortage of doctors is about to get much worse. 
"Florida needs more doctors and it needs more nurses, and it needs them working together in teams," said Rebecca O'Hara, a lobbyist for the FMA. 
About 15 million Floridians have health insurance today, and Obamacare, which requires most adults to have coverage by January, could add as many as 2.5 million more. One million would come through a potential expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program that Scott announced this week he was backing. The others would be the result of new mandates requiring employers and individuals to have insurance or be fined.

Currently, the state has 44,804 doctors, but about 5,600 of them are expected to retire in the next five years. And even though Florida has opened three new medical schools in the past dozen years, the state isn't producing as many doctors as it needs. Scott's budget this year has $80 million to fund programs to train 700 new residents a year, in hopes they'll remain in the state.
Even more disturbing for Scott's new medicare patients...their access to physicians is more limited,  only 59 percent of the state's physicians are taking new Medicaid patients, according to a Kaiser Health News study.

Last week Governor Scott announced a change to his strong opposition to Obamacare and recommended a three-year expansion that would cover single adults and families earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line.

Richard Foster, the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid predicted Obamacare will lead to a dearth of doctors---the plan will drive doctors away from accepting medicare,  and would expand insurance coverage to an estimated 34 million people who now lack it creating a demand for 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.

The LA Times reported that it's already happening in California
As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama's healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren't enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.

Some lawmakers want to fill the gap by redefining who can provide healthcare.

They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.
 And now it looks like Florida will be joining on on the Obamacare caused Doctor shortage.

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