Why Obama Would Be Good for Doctors

Harris Meyer

Disclosures

October 25, 2012

In This Article

Introduction

Re-electing President Barack Obama and continuing his policies would be better for physicians because millions more Americans will have insurance and be able to pay for healthcare and preventive services, say many physicians who support Obama. Additionally, administrative costs and hassles of dealing with insurers will be reduced, and doctors will play a leading role in new delivery systems to improve care and reduce costs.

Many physician supporters of Obama also believe that Obama's economic and tax policies are better for doctors overall -- even if some doctors have to pay higher income taxes -- because those policies will help build a society with a stronger middle class and fewer social problems. And they believe that he would protect public investments in medical research and public health while Mitt Romney's budget plan might slash such spending.

Physicians who back Obama base their support largely on his comprehensive healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although some would have preferred a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model, they say that the ACA finally will move the nation forward in addressing the longstanding problems of lack of healthcare coverage and access, rising costs, quality-of-care gaps, and poorer population health than in other advanced countries.

Like it or not, they say, there's no way to ensure that Americans with preexisting medical conditions can get private insurance without the controversial ACA provision requiring nearly everyone to have insurance, just as there's no way to make insurance affordable to lower-income people without the ACA's subsidies.

"I firmly believe what's best for physicians is getting everyone insured," says Mario Motta, MD, a Salem, Massachusetts, cardiologist who's a member of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. "Whatever person or party gets us to universal healthcare, that's who I have to support because that's what's best in the long run." He believes that the ACA's private insurance expansion is the only way to avoid a "complete government takeover" of health insurance, which he opposes.

In contrast, Mitt Romney's proposals to repeal the ACA and deregulate health insurance would sharply increase the number of uninsured and put even greater financial pressure on physicians. A recent Commonwealth Fund study[1] projects that the number of uninsured Americans under Romney's proposals would soar to 72 million by 2022, while dropping to 27 million under Obama's ACA law. Among nonelderly Americans, 22% would be uninsured in 2022 under Romney's plan, compared with 10% under Obama's law.

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