Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, likely 2016 GOP hopeful, has a couple of ideas for “improving” Obamacare according to a Bloomberg editorial. One of them will expose Americans to substandard medical treatment.
Jindal’s plan includes two excellent ideas. The first is to let nurse practitioners and other medical professionals practice to the full extent of their abilities.
Jindal’s second idea involves giving tax breaks for purchasing insurance plans. But it’s the one above that’s troubling, and I say that as an admirer of Jindal. We’ve looked at it before here at Tatler.
Obamacare is creating a doctor shortage in a couple of ways. One, it’s driving doctors straight out of practice over growing frustration with the new systems mandated by the law. Two, over the long term it’s expected to create more demand by insuring more people (supposing that it actually ends up insuring more people).
The idea of allowing medical practitioners who are not physicians to perform tasks, including diagnosis and some surgeries, limited to physicians is not a new idea. Two groups, optometrists and nurse practitioners, have been trying to increase the number of kind of treatments they are allowed to perform for a few years, to add to the scope of their practices and increase revenue. Neither are MDs and therefore do not have the years of training that MDs have. Most Americans probably don’t realize it, but optometrists do not receive anything close to the kind, scope and length of training that ophthalmologists receive. The latter graduate medical and are specialists in their field. Some optometry schools do not even require a college degree.
Allowing non-MDs to do tasks reserved for doctors has already caused problems.
Jindal’s plan would do at least two bad things. The first is that it would expose unsuspecting Americans to substandard treatment at the hands of people who are professionals, but are not fully trained medical doctors. The second is that it might contribute to saving Obamacare, a bad policy that needs to be repealed in full and replaced with a thoughtful market-based reform.