One of the predictions we’ve heard about the admittedly controversial Affordable Care Act is that acceptance of it will grow over time, as people become more familiar and comfortable with its provisions.
So far at least, we haven’t seen this happening in the public polling about the law.
And now we’re seeing similar dynamics playing out in the all-important physician community.
In fact, the latest findings are that the ACA is more unpopular than ever, if the results of a new survey of physicians are to be believed.
The survey was conducted in January 2015 by LocumTenens, a physician staffing firm and online job board.
The headline finding must be this: While ~44% of the survey respondents reported that they had been opposed to the Affordable Care Act legislation prior to its implementation, now ~58% are opposed to it after a year of working under the confines of the law.
R. Shane Jackson, president of LocumTenens, had this to say about the key finding:
“After a year in the trenches trying to help patients understand this legislation, physicians by and large feel the law hasn’t done a lot to help improve healthcare.”
More specifically, Jackson noted,
“Physicians feel the ACA has made serving patients and running their businesses much harder. A year after implantation – and years after the political debate started – doctors are still passionate about how this law should have been designed, and would still like to see changes made that will make it simpler for their staffs and patients to understand.”
Among the negatives physicians see with the current ACA law are these aspects:
- Lower reimbursement rates to hospitals and physicians
- Increased compliance burdens for physician practices
- Higher patient debt due to high-deductible plans
It isn’t all poor marks for the ACA, however. Physicians in the LocumTenens survey do credit the legislation for a number of positive outcomes including:
- Helping more people gain access to healthcare
- Expanding coverage to more children and young adults
- Eliminating coverage denials due to pre-existing health conditions
- Placing more focus on preventive healthcare measures
- Decreasing the costs of end-of-life care
So what is the “net-net” on all of this?
Two-thirds of the physician respondents want the ACA law repealed (and three-fourths think it will be, incidentally). But physicians want it replaced by something else that retains the positive aspects of the ACA while doing away with the negatives.
That’s the same message we’ve been hearing from politicians, too. So the bigger question is how to unscramble the ACA egg … and whether anything actually better can come out of the effort.
Would anyone care to weigh in with their thoughts and ideas in this never-ending debate?