Texas Physicians: Law Won't Lower Cost or Improve Care

For Immediate Release
July 21, 2010

 

Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
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Brent Annear
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Texas physicians forecast higher health care costs and lower quality under America's new health reform law, according to a new  Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician survey .

Health reform largely was billed as a way to decrease health care costs for the average American. However, findings from a recent TMA survey say that most Texas physicians are not convinced. TMA sent the study to its members to measure their attitudes toward the new health reform law. "We wanted to see how our physicians' beliefs, hopes, and fears compared with national studies," said TMA President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD.

TMA learned that the  majority of Texas physicians are disappointed, anxious, confused, and/or angry about the new health reformsAlmost half the physicians, 46 percent , get more negative as they learn more about the law.

"The survey findings mirror what physicians are telling me," said Dr. Bailey. The association currently is traveling across the state educating its members on how to survive and thrive in the new health care landscape. "We all know that the paradigm for how we deliver health care is going to change. However, no one knows what it's going to look like or how it's going to work," said Dr. Bailey. "Not knowing what the future holds causes physicians confusion, which leads to fear, anxiousness, and the other negative reactions."

Physicians believe one big shortcoming of the health reform law is that it failed to solve Medicare and Medicaid funding problems, which will lead to physician shortages in the government's two largest health programs. Many physicians have said the annual Medicare crisis leaves them no choice but to opt out of the program that serves seniors and people with disabilities. "Our physicians can't sustain their practices with the on-again, off-again Medicare cuts," said Dr. Bailey. "Now, with the 1-percent cut to their Medicaid payments, too, physicians have to rethink that program as well." Medicaid serves lower income Texans.

"Medicaid and Medicare patients have complicated and serious illnesses. Without a physician to care for them, these patients will have no choice but to seek care in expensive and crowded emergency rooms; that alone is going to drive up costs," added Dr. Bailey.

In fact,  more than three-quarters of physician respondents  believe the cost of health care will go up under the new health care reform plan. And  two-thirds believe the quality of health care will deteriorate  under the new health care reform.

"This survey reinforces why it is important for TMA and others to continue our efforts to find legitimate solutions that improve patients' quality of care, while lowering their costs," Dr. Bailey concluded.

Since 1990, the Texas Medical Association has conducted a biennial survey of a representative sample of Texas physicians focusing primarily on health care practice, economic, and legislative issues. TMA conducted the 2010 Survey of Texas Physicians as a monthly e-mail survey. More than 1,200 physicians responded to the survey. The margin of error is 5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 45,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA's key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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