ColoradoCare, the Single Payer ballot measure Coloradans will vote on this fall, represents a real threat to physician practices.
Many physicians and other industry types I speak with admit to being a little flat-footed on the issue. “It won’t pass, will it?” is the question I get. While it seems to be a long shot, did anyone expect Bernie Sanders to get this far? Did we expect people really would legalize recreational marijuana use?
Voters are upset about health care eating up more and more of their income and savings, so there is plenty of energy behind this movement. In short: we can’t afford to be complacent.
What would ColoradoCare mean for physicians? Imagine if Medicare were your only payer and you’re getting close. The government would have the ability to set reimbursement levels across the board. Would you be willing to accept a 20 percent cut in reimbursement? Many practices would be forced to leave the state in order to stay afloat.
Colorado’s rural and mountain regions are already faced with extreme physician shortages. El Paso County has one of the worst physician shortages in the state requiring a 54 percent increase in primary care physicians to reach a desirable ratio of 1,900 patients to every full-time physician. If even 10 percent of Colorado’s physicians left the state, imagine the strain it would place on the physicians that decide to stay. And luring new physicians to the state would be next to impossible.
Beyond the worry of low pay for doctors, there is the bureaucratic aspect to consider. Think getting a passport, dealing with the DMV and VA. Now layer on that it’s a new system with all the bugs new systems always start with.
Ironically, the effort to give everyone care would result in the wealthy getting their own, special health care system as is the case in Canada. Concierge medicine will take off, but only for the well-heeled.
So what to do? First, follow the news and tell your elected representatives what you think. Advise your patients of the risks and urge the sympathetic to reach out on the issue too.
Andrew Graham, CEO