SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The new health care law could result in a doctor shortage and that aspect of it, some argue, is what truly needs urgent care.
They are four words any patient-in-need likes to hear: The doctor is in.
But with nearly three million new uninsured Californians set to enter the Medi-Cal program under the Affordable Care Act now given the supreme nod by the court, the doctor might actually be tough to find.
“That’s gonna cause a problem,” said Dr. Paul Phinney.
That’s the prediction from the California Medical Association.
Phinney is the president-elect of the association.
“Well, the Affordable Care Act is a very good first step, but we are on the brink of a physician shortage,” said Phinney.
And, adding more patients could make things worse.
“We’re very concerned at the medical association, at CMA, that the Affordable Care Act, in some ways, is based on a foundation that’s a little shaky,” said Phinney.
It’s shaky because both the Medicare and Medicaid programs, CMA argues, is—in their words—still grossly underfunded and reimbursement rates for doctors are set to drop even more.
“Not only can you not make any money on it you can’t pay for what it cost you to see the patients,” said Phinney.
So what happens if doctors keep losing money with more patients on the way under the new health care law?
“At a certain point, you got to turn off the lights. You can’t keep doing it,” said Phinney.
Bottom line, the new law is not the magic pill to fix health care.
“It’s gonna be a long process for us to change from where we are to where we need to be,” said Phinney.
CMA believes there is a lot to like in the new health care law, but there is also a lot to be fixed before it gets going.