More “good news” about the health care bill’s impact
Remember the mantra that said, “once everyone has insurance, emergency rooms won’t be jammed as they are today”.
Says those who actually know about such things – “Wrong”. In fact, they’re likely to be even more jammed than they have been in the past. The reason? The number of primary care doctors won’t change just because the number of insured have.
“Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years,” said Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, which designs healthcare facilities.
“We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less,” he said.
But don’t take Dallam’s word for it – we’ve actually had experience that was apparently ignored:Massachusetts in 2006 created near-universal coverage for residents, which was supposed to ease the traffic in hospital emergency rooms.
But a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents say emergency department wait times have either increased or remained the same.
A February 2010 report by The Council of State Governments found that wait times had not abated since the law took effect.
Yes, it appears the public was sold yet another bill of goods.
Even the Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is forced to grudgingly admit it:
Richard Foster, Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told The Hill that the current dearth of primary care physicians could lead to greater stress on hospital emergency rooms.
“The supply of doctors can’t be increased very quickly – there’s a time lag,” he said, adding, “Is the last resort to newly covered people the emergency room? I would say that is a possibility, but I wouldn’t say anybody has a very good handle on exactly how much of an infrastructure problem there will be or exactly how it might work out.”
Really? Not enough doctors, everyone insured, Massachusetts example? Of course they have a pretty good handle.
In fact, the American Institute of Architects predicts that the cost for hospitals could be in the $2 trillion dollar range over the next 20 years to meet coming demand. Such building, at the moment, is pretty much on hold due to the economy.
The point, of course, is that access to insurance doesn’t mean access to a doctor. And thus one sure way to see a doctor is via the emergency room. Lack of insurance may have kept some away from seeking services there. That won’t be the case anymore. And, given the Massachusetts example, that’s proven to be true there.
So once again, reality meets a political promise and the promise is found wanting.
The cost of the bill, according to the latest CBO numbers, has now risen to over a trillion dollars in the first 10 years (bending the cost curve in which direction? Up.), despite claims that it was under 800 billion, so the fact that this particular promise is wrong as well shouldn’t surprise anyone.