Drafting Docs

Look for doctors to be conscripted to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients.
By Kevin D. Williamson

They call it the “doc shock,” and it is the next fiasco to be brought to you by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the name of which grows more bitterly comical with each day’s news of higher premiums and lost health-care coverage. Democrats have a big idea for fixing it, and physicians are not going to like it.

The economics is pretty straightforward. Higher prices for medical services are built into the Obamacare model: If you inject a ton of money — or many, many tons of money, if you were weighing it out in pallets of hundred-dollar bills — into the demand side of the equation but do little or nothing on the supply side, then you expect higher prices as an expanding river of money chases an amount of goods that is not expanding at the same rate, or that is in some cases fixed or even declining.higher demand + limited supply = higher prices. Even the Obama administration knows this, which is why one of the health-care bill’s few nods to reality was a plan to raise compensation rates for Medicaid temporarily, in hopes of enticing more doctors to take Medicaid patients, which precious few of them are willing to do. The idea was to bring Medicaid rates into alignment with Medicare rates, rather than forcing physicians to take a 40 percent haircut for the privilege of treating poor people instead of old people.

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