WASHINGTON (AP) — Making the case for a Republican repeal and replacement of his predecessor’s health care law, President Donald Trump reached for a dire-sounding argument that’s unsupported by the data.
“Many of our best and brightest are leaving the medical profession entirely because of Obamacare,” Trump told his audience at a Monday night rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
In fact, the number of doctors in the U.S. actively caring for patients grew from 799,501 in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, to 860,939 in 2015, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The American College of Physicians, which represents internists, the largest specialty, says its enrollment of new doctors has increased every year since 2012. The American Academy of Family Physicians has seen its membership grow from 94,620 to 124,900 since 2008.
While there are anecdotes about doctors dropping out, “we see no significant number exiting related to the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Atul Grover, executive vice president of the medical colleges association. “There is also no evidence of a declining interest in medicine since the ACA took effect.”
Change in the medical profession has brought discontent among doctors, but the culprits are much larger than President Barack Obama’s health care law. A shift in the way doctors are paid — increasingly for results, rather than for specific procedures — and paperwork requirements driven by insurance companies and Medicare are leading factors, according to a 2016 survey of doctors by the Physicians Foundation.
Another big factor driving departures from the profession is age. Physicians in the baby-boom generation, particularly those who are specialists, are particularly inclined to speed up their retirement plans, the survey found.
The largest professional organizations that represent doctors are opposed to Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace the Obama law. The internists’ group says the proposal “will likely result in less access to coverage and higher costs for millions of patients.” And the family physicians’ group says the proposal threatens the “significant increase in coverage” that the current law has provided.
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