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Physician numbers aren’t declining
“Many of our best and brightest are leaving the medical profession entirely because of Obamacare.”
-President Donald J. Trump at a
March 20 rally in Louisville, Kentucky
I recently watched the president make this claim in front of hundreds of cheering supporters as he denounced the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, on the eve of a crucial House vote to repeal the law.
In case you missed it: What AHCA's failure means for physicians
Physicians, by and large, aren’t big fans of the Affordable Care Act, as shown in this publication last July, when major sections of the law garnered a failing grade in a reader survey. But there are segments of the law-notably coverage of pre-existing conditions-that doctors support and would like to see preserved under any replacement legislation.
But physician numbers aren’t declining. From the Association of American Medical Colleges to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there is clear evidence that the number of U.S. physicians has not decreased significantly since the advent of Obamacare. The number of medical school graduates, in fact, has been on the rise each year since the law passed.
And physicians aren’t “leaving the medical profession entirely” because of healthcare reform.
It’s true that physicians face a number of stressors these days, highlighted in this issue through the results of the 88th annual Physician Report. But these are caused by obstacles ranging from fluctuating reimbursements to patients angered by high copays and deductibles. Practicing medicine in 2017 is not easy. But there’s no mass exodus.
Further reading: Replacing Obamacare not an easy path for new administration
Change in healthcare is nothing new. Whether it takes the form of revised policies emanating from Washington, D.C., or commercial payers altering coverage and payments for patient plans, change comes fast and furious at medical practices nationwide and on a regular basis.
And physicians are prepared. They may not love the change, but they are ready to meet it head-on along with their care partners, whether in the practice or among their colleagues.
As this issue’s cover story shows, physicians deal with their daily stressors in numerous ways. It’s rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. But for each of the personal stories you read in this issue, there are thousands more nationwide from doctors staying motivated to practice medicine and work long hours (both in the office and even at home) to improve the well-being of their patients.
Further reading: 88th annual Physician Report results
There’s a reason medicine is often referred to as a calling. It takes a special breed of individual to put in the volume of hours to deal with various patient issues from minor to complex and face mountains of paperwork just for what is sometimes a glimmer of improvement in a patient. But that glimmer sometimes turns into a spark–for both physician and patient–of what can be the first step to better health.
And that’s why physicians wake up each morning, go to work and remain dedicated to the craft they’ve chosen.
Mr. President, physicians are fighters, not fleers. They aren’t going to waste too much energy complaining about legislation with no solid plan on how to keep moving forward. That’s what politicians are for.
Keith L. Martin is editorial director of Medical Economics. You can follow him on Twitter at
@klmartin_ubm. How do you stay motivated to practice medicine? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.