Thus far, legislators in California, Louisiana and Tennessee weren’t fooled and ultimately rejected proposals that would compromise medical safety standards. But in each case the door was left open for future attempts, and now that the new healthcare law is actually being implemented, state houses across the country should expect a renewed push.
It stands to reason that by forcing individuals into the healthcare system without ensuring there is an adequate pipeline to treat them will create some bottlenecks. As these bottlenecks build, it will only add fodder for these specialties to push for expanded scope.
One of the proponents’ central arguments is that increasing the ability of non-M.D. practitioners to perform a broader range of procedures would free up access to care – particularly in rural areas – and reduce the bottleneck that may be created by thousands of new entrants into the healthcare system. The problem? No patient, whether rural, newly insured, or otherwise, deserves care from practitioners without sufficient training for the procedures they are performing. Substandard healthcare is not an acceptable solution to the problems created by Obamacare.
Additionally, these allied health professionals argue that their treatment will also reduce healthcare costs, since nurses, optometrists and pharmacists often bill at lower rates. This may be true at the onset, but what is the price of substandard care? More doctor and hospital visits that clog the system even further and add unnecessary costs.
States need to resist falling for quick fixes when confronting the challenges faced by Obamacare. The widespread unpopularity of the law makes it likely that significant changes will be made at the federal level, and in the meantime many solutions have been proposed to address the access issue. Legislators should keep their hands off of healthcare and not change the definition of who constitutes a “doctor.”