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Some doubt accuracy of report on health care law

BY WAYNE GREENE wayne.greene@tulsaworld.com Published: July 14, 2012
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Ninety percent of doctors think the U.S. medical system in on the wrong track and 83 percent say changes in the medical system have made them think about quitting, according to a national survey quoted by U.S. Rep. John Sullivan after the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, an alarming 83 (percent) of American physicians have considered leaving their practices as a result of Obamacare,” Sullivan's statement says.

If a large portion of American physicians walked away from medicine because of the Affordable Care Act, the law designed to improve U.S. health care obviously would be taking it backward. But some cast doubts about the survey's authority.

When asked about the statistics, Sullivan's staff referred to online results from the association, which shows the surveyed physicians weren't specifically reacting to the Affordable Care Act, but to “current changes in the medical system.”

The association, an advocacy group that has worked against the Affordable Care Act, delivered its survey by fax to 16,227 physicians' offices earlier this year and got 699 completed surveys.

The online results included written comments from many of the doctors — with the physicians' names withheld — indicating they were frustrated with the Affordable Care Act and many other things, including malpractice law, Medicare and Medicaid rates and insurance company and government bureaucracy.

“I know how to take care of sick and injured people. PLEASE, let me do my job the way I was trained to do it,” one family practice physician from Colorado wrote. “I am so sick and tired of people with vastly inferior training, or no medical training whatsoever, telling me how to treat my patients — and all of them have their own agenda: Power and or money.”

The same physician goes on to say, “Obamacare will destroy the best medical system the world has ever seen, and it will bankrupt the nation.”

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, is a physician and a strident opponent of the Affordable Care Act. He cited similar statistics in a Wednesday speech.

Twenty-five percent of doctors over the age of 55 quit the profession in 2011, Ritze said to the Republican Men's Club of Tulsa County.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Ritze said the loss of physicians was “directly related” to the Affordable Care Act.

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States get more time on Medicaid

— Administration officials are telling the states there's no pressure to decide whether to expand Medicaid for their low-income residents under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. The Supreme Court gave states the option of accepting or rejecting the Medicaid expansion. It's designed to cover about 15 million low-income people around the country, starting in 2014. In a letter to Republican governors Friday, the administration said there's no deadline for states to decide on Medicaid. And states can receive federal funding to explore their options without having to pay it back if they later decline. Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, says in the letter she expects states “will recognize that this is a good deal,” since federal taxpayers are covering the lion's share of costs.

Associated Press

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