Family doctors seen as winners after court upholds health lawWASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health-care law Thursday, many interested parties had cause to celebrate. Among them were family doctors who stand to gain both influence and money from the decision.
By: Alex Wayne , Bloomberg News
WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health-care law Thursday, many interested parties had cause to celebrate. Among them were family doctors who stand to gain both influence and money from the decision.
Specialists such as cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons worry they will fall in the losers’ camp. These doctors say they face reduced reimbursements, loss of autonomy to hospitals and, ultimately, fewer patients receiving their care.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Affordable Care Act may cover more than 30 million uninsured people in the United States. Keeping that care affordable means reining in medical and drug costs by reprioritizing some services. That could include reductions in Medicare payments to specialists, cutbacks that may threaten rather than strengthen prospects for quality care.
“We want more people to be insured; we want people to get the help they need,” said Peter Mandell, 68, an orthopedic surgeon in Burlingame, Calif.
Still, “we’ve got this sword of Damocles hanging over our heads,” Mandell said in a telephone interview. “Any more cuts and there’s really going to be a crisis in access.”
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 2010 healthcare overhaul, voting 5-4 that Congress has the power to require Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty. That requirement is at the center of the law, which also forces insurers to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. The court modified the law’s extension of the Medicaid program for the poor, saying the federal government can’t threaten to withhold money from states that don’t fully comply.
Dr. Hamsakumari Ramasubramaniam, left, examines patient Fabian Vasquez at Camillus Health Concern earlier this week in Miami. Camillus is a private, non-profit organization that provides health care to the homeless and poor in Miami-Dade County.