Mitt Romney has promised that one of his first acts as president would be to dismantle ObamaCare. (“Repeal and Replace ObamaCare” is the operative slogan.) I like to think that his imperative attention to ObamaCare is something more than a deliberate policy program. In part, I suspect, it is an act of expiation, for ObamaCare is to a large extent RomneyCare — the health care reform act that Romney oversaw as governor of Massachusetts — writ large (writ very, very large).
And since RomneyCare has been around a few years longer than ObamaCare (it came online in 2006), it provides an excellent laboratory for seeing what happens to health care when the government takes over. What is happening in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts today is what will be happening in the U.S. of A. the day after tomorrow unless something is done about this legislative monstrosity eftsoons and right speedily.
This morning, a cardiologist friend of mine sent me a note that contained a link to an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about RomneyCare as a guide to ObamaCare. By “cardiologist” I mean “former cardiologist,” for like many doctors I know, he has left the practice of medicine in disgust — disgust over the government’s steady encroachment on his income in part, but also disgust over the way government was intruding on the doctor/patient relationship and bureaucratizing the practice of medicine, transforming doctors into wards of the state and patients into abstract consumers of scarce medical “resources” that the government was set to ration. (Why do you think that new government guidelines suggest that regular prostate tests and other screenings are unnecessary? It’s not because those tests don’t pick up pathologies: it’s because they cost money and the government wants to limit its expenditures.)
As I say, he is only one of many doctors I know who have left or are considering leaving the practice of medicine because of ObamaCare. Indeed, a recent study by the Doctor Patient Medical Association reports that 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting because of ObamaCare. But you don’t need me to tell you this: you probably know plenty of doctors who have left or shortly will leave their practices. And the flight of doctors is only one problem: “Even if doctors do not quit their jobs over the ruling,” a precis of the DPMA report notes, “America will face a shortage of at least 90,000 doctors by 2020. The new health care law increases demand for physicians by expanding insurance coverage. This change will exacerbate the current shortage as more Americans live past 65.”