A retired family physician and elected Republican delegate from New Jersey says he is pessimistic about a problem he doesn’t think Trump, the Republican Party or anyone for that matter can solve: The slow death of private practice.
Robert Maurer, DO, a retired family physician and elected Republican delegate from New Jersey, supports Donald Trump for president and believes in what the presumptive nominee could do to solve healthcare problems in America.
But he is pessimistic about a problem he doesn’t think Trump, the Republican Party or anyone for that matter can solve: The slow death of private practice.
“Nobody going to medical school today, when they finish, will go into private practice,” says Maurer, speaking to Medical Economics by phone from New Jersey on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. “It’s a dying art, and it’s a great loss for the citizens of this country. Medical students today will never know what it’s like to build a practice slowly, and build it based on the physician-patient relationship.”
When he graduated from medical school 40 years ago, Maurer spent $5,000 to open his solo practice in New Jersey. On his first day, he treated two patients. On the second, he saw three.
Now, Maurer says, new doctors are crippled by hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. When they begin to practice, government regulations-from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to new Medicare payment models under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015-will hamper their ability to forge connections with patients and survive as an independent physician.
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“I hate to say it’s unfixable,” Maurer says. “The costs today are so bent in the wrong direction, whereby the hospitals and the management companies and the HMOs and the insurance companies, medical device companies [and] drug companies, they are taking 85% of healthcare dollars and the doctors, many of whom are struggling, are trying to make due with what’s left over.”
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Still, Maurer says there are things he believes a Trump administration can help with. He hopes Trump pushes for tort reform to enable physicians to stop practicing “defensive medicine.” He supports Trump’s pledge to dismantle the ACA, and is intrigued by some of the possibilities of what a Trump health plan might look like, though he admits few details have been released on Trump’s healthcare platform.
“We all know Donald Trump waffles a bit, but he does talk about universal healthcare sometimes, which is very interesting,” Maurer says. “Obamacare is a bastardization. It only solves some anecdotal problems.”
Medical Economics is reporting all week from Cleveland, Ohio, during the Republican National Convention. For more coverage, visit our 2016 Election page.