Rationing? What rationing?

45% Of Doctors Would Consider Quitting If Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul

“Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors’ own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration’s claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.

The IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted by mail the past two weeks, with 1,376 practicing physicians chosen randomly throughout the country taking part. Responses are still coming in, and doctors’ positions on related topics — including the impact of an overhaul on senior care, medical school applications and drug development — will be covered later in this series.

Major findings included:

Two-thirds, or 65%, of doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan. This contradicts the administration’s claims that doctors are part of an “unprecedented coalition” supporting a medical overhaul.

It also differs with findings of a poll released Monday by National Public Radio that suggests a “majority of physicians want public and private insurance options,” and clashes with media reports such as Tuesday’s front-page story in the Los Angeles Times with the headline “Doctors Go For Obama’s Reform.”

Nowhere in the Times story does it say doctors as a whole back the overhaul. It says only that the AMA — the “association representing the nation’s physicians” and what “many still regard as the country’s premier lobbying force” — is “lobbying and advertising to win public support for President Obama’s sweeping plan.”

The AMA, in fact, represents approximately 18% of physicians and has been hit with a number of defections by members opposed to the AMA’s support of Democrats’ proposed health care overhaul.

Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.

More than 800,000 doctors were practicing in 2006, the government says. Projecting the poll’s finding onto that population, 360,000 doctors would consider quitting.

More than seven in 10 doctors, or 71% — the most lopsided response in the poll — answered “no” when asked if they believed “the government can cover 47 million more people and that it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better.'”

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