As political forces and misguided public outrage have ground the health care reform movement to a halt, the central issues remain unanswered:
• The projected cost of Medicare will bankrupt the United States.
• There remains tens of millions of US citizens that do not have adequate policies or means to pay for health care coverage.
• The cost of adequate health care coverage for those citizens still fortunate enough to be able to pay is rising at an unsustainable rate.
• Systemic waste remains.
• Doctors are compelled to practice expensive defensive medicine due to fears of almost infinite liability and costs associated with litigation.
• The system is crippled with blatant fraud.
• Most of all, good people are suffering and dying needlessly.
Now the political powers and public interest have apparently lost their collective passion for reform and seem quite satisfied with watching the ship sink and take all of its passengers with it. So, why not one more torpedo to hasten the mass drowning?
Medicare (MC) is positioned to reduce reimbursement paid to doctors by roughly 20%. This action alone will have immediate and long term consequences that will forever change medical care in the US.
The immediate consequence of significantly cutting physician reimbursement (while all of the physician's costs of providing care to patients rises) will be decreased access to medical care for those over 65. Many specialists will refuse to see MC patients altogether or severely limit the number that they will see each day. However it is done, the end result will be a delay or denial of care to those over 65.
The long-term consequences will be far more dire. Medical education is a long and expensive road for students that traditionally rank in the top 10% of their class or higher. These very bright students can enter any career path of their choosing and will. To make a long story short and sweet, if a bright student with options cannot reasonably expect to make a good living and pay back all of those years of educational loans they will opt for a non-medical career path. It's not greed. It's common sense.
Thus creating what is known as a brain drain. Bright students will migrate to more lucrative fields and others (presumably B students if we're lucky) will fill the medical ranks.
If you don't believe me, just look at what happened to education. Teachers were undervalued in society, paid poorly and look at the state of the public education system in the US. It is in such decline that it may be unable to be fixed in our children's, children's educational lifetime.
You reap what you sow and you get what you pay for.
Word to the wise; if as a society we chose to undervalue and under pay physicians, please be prepared for whatever you get when your life or that of a loved one hangs in the balance.
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