WASHINGTON (July 23, 2012) — President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law is hastening a shift away from private practices as doctors, fearful of new costs and regulations, are moving to large hospitals, reports the Washington Post.
Healthcare professionals shared their concerns Thursday in a hearing before the House Small Business Committee in Washington. The shift has been picking up momentum in recent years, they said, driven largely by growing regulatory and administrative burdens, rising malpractice costs and declining reimbursements from insurers — all of which they say have hit small practices especially hard, the Post says.
Doctors are avoiding the traditional solo practitioner model in favor of employment at large hospitals, which can provide better financial security and take responsibility for keeping up with new regulations.
Research has shown that the number of physicians who own their firms dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2009, according to Accenture data. The number is projected to continue falling to 33 percent by 2013, the Post says. The president of a national physician recruiting firm — who said the classic model of a small physician practice is rapidly becoming a thing of the past — told the House committee that only 2 percent of his company’s search assignments in the past year were on behalf of small practices, down from 42 percent in 2004.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, approved recently by the Supreme Court, may also expedite the decline of small practices, the Post says.
The act made Accountable Care Organizations an official part of the Medicare program this year, giving hospitals added incentive to scoop up physician partners. Doctors on the panel also said the regulation’s $500 billion cut to Medicare could translate into even less reimbursement for those who care for patients insured by the government.