The Future of the Medical Industry

December 9, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Rachael Borne

With the recent passage of the massive health reform bill, the attitude of some practicing physicians differ greatly from students on the medical track. Many current doctors are now considering early retirement while students have accepted the bill, whether they like it or not.

The future for students studying medicine might be as unpredictable as the actual bill. SMU pre-med major Keith Champlin believes one of the main problems of the bill is the actual understanding of it from Americans.

“I don’t even know much about the health care bill or how it can be implemented effectively. Overall, I am not very excited about it but there is nothing I can do about that now,” said the senior, who is currently applying for medical school.

UT Southwestern Medical School student Tom Ju is aware of the controversy of the bill but is not worried it will affect his future. He does believe the bill will create some obvious, negative consequences but that does not diminish his desire to become a doctor.

“I don’t really have a choice to like the bill or not like it, I am too far into school to really have an opinion about it that could lead to changing professions,” said Ju.

The health reform bill contains more than 2,500 pages, overhauling the entire health care system and ultimately the entire medical industry. The future for pre-med and medical students seems uncertain even to those studying to work in the industry.

Dr. Randy Leone, a radiologist at Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, believes he understands the bill for the most part. He is completely opposed to the bill and even described it as a spiral to total socialism. He has spoken to citizens in Europe and Canada about their universal healthcare and gathered a sense of unhappiness from everyone.

“I don’t think the general public realizes how much of a financial disaster this could be for us in the future,” he said.

Leone believes not only will this bill push a massive amount of doctors over the threshold of early retirement, but also the quality of care will be severely diminished.

David Archer, an SMU sophomore, was aware of the possibility of a healthcare overhaul as he chose the pre-med track. Due the passage of the bill, he has worked even harder to succeed in his studies and plans to find and work in a region of the medical industry that is not regulated by the government.

Leone, a practicing physician of 15 years, predicts those studying medicine now and in the future will aim to work in fields of fee-for-service, like dermatology or plastic surgery, which do not take insurance and are not mandated to accept Medicare, an insurance plan for citizens 65 or older. He believes the more government involvement in healthcare will not lead to either greater patient satisfaction or improved medical outcomes.

“But there are obviously a few number of spots for these types of doctors,” he said.

The Association of American Medical Colleges published the total number of medical school graduates each year, which has increased every year since 2005. In 2010, 16,838 students graduated. Predicting if this trend will continue now that the bill has passed is difficult.

Archer, who aims to be a neurosurgeon, thinks the bill will lower the competitive nature of the field, thus lowering the quality of healthcare Americans will receive.

If the government takes over healthcare, physicians like Leone will be forced to take on more patients for less money, which creates less time to help these people and ultimately lower the quality of care for these people.

Leone also believes the desire to work in internal medicine or family practice fields will decrease because these doctors are paid through reimbursements and if the government takes over the reimbursement payment process, doctors will ultimately get paid less.

Even though the issue of money is a consequence of the bill, Leone, along with Champlian, Ju and Archer, all acknowledge their reasoning for entering the industry is not because of the money.

“A mentor of mine, who is a doctor, told me that people are called to be doctors and that is not something you can ignore,” said Champlain.
“We get into medicine not because we want to make a ton of money and live in mansions, but we do it because we love it and it is incredibly rewarding,” said Ju.

The grueling process of becoming a doctor is not projected to change due to the reform. Students will still be required to study four years in college, four years of medical school, a year of interning, two to ten years of residency, and an optional one to five years of fellowship.

Ju realized the extreme difficulty of his journey to become an internal medicine physician, especially as his friends are in the real world, making a profit while he is racking up debt from student loans.

“I think there is a huge consensus that doctors make too much money but it is hard to judge that if you haven’t walked a day in our shoes,” he said.
Champlain also accepted the decade of school in his near future but is not worried about it. Instead he worries the new bill will take advantage of doctors, especially since these people go to school the longest for a profession. He thinks these factors will influence more young adults to choose a different path, outside the medical industry.

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 21.8 percent increase of physicians and surgeons by 2018. The fate of doctors is basically unknown as the health reform completely phases in, which begins in earnest by 2014.

Leone also disagreed with the way President Obama presented the health reform bill, which the American Medical Association backed, to the public.
“Well I am not a member of the AMA and I do not know anybody that I work with in Dallas that is a member of the AMA,” he said.

The AMA is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States, around 25% of members are practicing physicians. Their “mission is to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.”

Even though many negative consequences might occur from the bill, Leone, Ju, Champlian and Archer applaud the government for creating a system in which more uninsured Americans may receive healthcare.
There is a consensus of other positive aspects of the bill, including numerous insurance industry reforms. The opportunity for young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26 and the expansion of care for uninsured Americans are two noted aspects of the bill.

Legal challenges are mounting to some portions of the reform bill, including whether all parts of the bill are constitutional. The bill also stands a chance of modification, due to midterm elections. But for now, Champlain, Ju, and Archer will have to continue adapting to the industry regardless of the bill and aim to take full advantage of the overhaul bill.

“Everyone has to accept it, make the best of it and adapt to the changes or get left behind,” he said.

Campus News Blog: Health Care Reform and Texas

April 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Kathryn Sharkey

An article on BBC news talked about the health care reform debate and how Texas represents both sides of the debate well.

The article states that “Texas has the dubious distinction of being home to the highest number of uninsured people in the country: 25%, compared with a national average of 15%,” showing that many inhabitants of Texas stand to gain from a plan that would extend coverage.

However, Texas also has a substantial group of opponents to the bill as part of the Tea Party activists, who say the bill is unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible.

What the article does not mention is that there is one big reason Texas has such a strong showing for both sides of the debate: its racial and ethnic diversity.

Many immigrants, many illegal from Mexico and Central America, come to Texas, which partially accounts for the high uninsured rate. These immigrants are mostly coming from situations of poverty, so they lack the education and ability (legally) to obtain the kind of jobs that would offer them health care.

In Texas, the health care debate can’t help but be wrapped up in the immigration debate.

Another thing the article did not mention, which a blog post on The Huffington Post addressed, is that Texas currently has a public option “suggested by and administered by the office of the Texas Attorney General, to provide a reasonable cost option to parents who are now mandated to provide medical care payment in Texas.” This is similar to the public option that was removed from the federal health care reform bill.

It seems that Texas is hopelessly bipolar when it comes to health care reform.

VIDEO: Mustang Minute, Tuesday Feb. 23

February 23, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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Politics Blog: Reid Announces $848 Billion Health Care Bill

November 20, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Allison Donnelly

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced his $848 billion health care reform bill Wednesday, a big step for Senate Democrats.

Although Reid does not know if he will have all 60 votes needed to pass the  2,074-page legislation, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,  a majority of the Democrats support his bill. If Reid does not get the “magic” number of 60 votes, the opposing side will have the ability to filibuster.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report released Wednesday, 94 percent of Americans would have access to a government sponsored public option plan, however, individual states can decided whether to “opt-out” or not. Reid’s plan also would decrease future federal deficits by $130 billion in the next 10 years, the biggest deficit reduced reduction of any health bill to date, according to Politico. The two biggest concerns for Republicans and Moderates are the public option and abortion.

On Thursday, Reid announced that the Senate will vote on the bill at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Until then, Senators will have the opportunity to express their support or opposition for the bill on the Senate floor.

Global News Blog: Americans in Israel Demand ‘Reform’ on Health Care Provision

November 15, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Ally Owens

It looks like President Barack Obama’s health care reform is affecting more than just people in America. The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, a group that helps Americans living in Israel, is launching a campaign to protest a clause in the health care plan that includes taxing Americans living abroad who opt out of coverage.

This week AACI sent a mass e-mail urging Americans living in Israel to write their senators and demand that the tax provision be left out of the final draft of the legislation. While the House version of the bill passed without the tax provision included, the Senate version, which has yet to be voted on, still includes the provision. If the bill is passed by the Senate, it could become law when the two pieces of legislation are merged.

If passed, the approximately 80,000 Americans living in Israel would be subjected to pay an annual tax of $750 with a minimum tax of $1,900 per family. The AACI maintains that it could affect other Anglo immigrants if their countries adopted a similar clause toward excise tax in health care.

Politics Blog: House of Representatives Passes Affordable Health Care for America Act

November 8, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Allison Donnelly

The U.S. House of Representatives met on Saturday to vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  The $1.2 trillion health care reform legislation passed with a final vote of 220-215.  Thirty-nine Democrats voted against it, as well as every Republican in the House except for Joseph Cao of Louisiana.

“That was easy,” said Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, after the legislation passed, as reported by Politico.

The bill included an amendment made by Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that would bar federal funding for most abortions, a topic that has been controversial since the beginning of health care reform. The amendment passed on a vote of 240-194, with 176 Republicans voting in favor of it.

The next big step for health care reform is in the hands of the Senate. After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement last week about moving forward with a public health insurance option, it is unsure whether there will be the 60 votes needed to pass health care legislation.

With the Christmas deadline looming in the near future, the American public waits in much anticipation for a decision on health care reform.

Politics Blog: Reid Says Public Option Will Move Forward to Senate Floor

October 27, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Posted by Allison Donnelly

The public health insurance option has been controversial from day one with health care reform legislation. The majority of Democrats want to include this provision, while Republicans are hesitant of a government-sponsored plan, thinking that it will lead to another government-takeover of health care.

Controversy aside, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that he will move forward with a public option plan.

“The public option is not a silver bullet,” Reid said Monday, “I believe it’s an important way to ensure competition and level the playing field for patients with the insurance industry.”

Sen. Reid’s version of the public health insurance plan includes an “opt-out” option for individual states. With this idea, states can decide whether or not they will participate in a government-sponsored plan. What seems to be a good compromise, however, is not getting the deserved response from fellow senators.

According to Politico, Reid has between 56 and 57 votes for the opt-out option. This is several votes shy of the magic 60 votes needed to pass the bill.

So far, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who was one of the only Republicans to vote for the health care reform bill out of the Senate Finance Committee, is not one of these votes. According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. Snowe is “deeply dissapointed” in the Majority Leader’s decision. However, there is time for her opinion to change, especially if her support for health care reform remains strong.

The National Coalition on Health Care reported nearly 46 million Americans (20 percent of the American population under the age 65) were without health insurance in 2008. Due to the recession and inflated costs, this number continues to increase.