The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show
only 15 percent of 426 primary care physicians favor total repeal.
Even among doctors who said they voted for Trump, only 38 percent
said they wanted the act eliminated in its entirety.
Mr. Trump has promised to replace Obamacare with something better.
Neither he nor Congress have released specifics.
That might garner support from the physicians surveyed, depending on
the provisions of a new plan; 74 percent favored making improvements
to Obamacare. But some improvements they want may not be popular
with opponents of the law.
For example, more than 66 percent of the respondents said the
government should create a public option similar to Medicare to
compete with private insurance. Many opponents want the government
out of the healthcare business altogether.
More than half (59 percent) of the physicians surveyed supported tax
credits that would allow the purchase of private insurance by people
eligible for Medicaid, the federally-financed but state-run health
insurance program for the poor.
Nearly 69 percent favored increasing the use of health savings
In contrast, only 29 percent supported increasing the use of
high-deductible health plans, a proposal being floated around to
keep down government costs, and fewer than half of the physicians
(43 percent) said Medicare should be expanded to cover people aged
55 to 64.
Some Republican proposals have called for deregulating the private
insurance industry, a move that would allow companies to sell health
plans across state lines. Only 42 percent of physicians supported
The primary care physicians were almost evenly split on the idea of
requiring all states to expand Medicaid under the auspices of
Obamacare, a controversial concept. Many states with Republican
governors have refused to do so.
But the provisions of the law that are most popular with the public
are very popular with the first-line physicians as well.
Just over 95 percent said it was somewhat or very important to
prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more
for people with preexisting conditions, which companies were allowed
to do before Obamacare.
Support levels among the physicians were nearly 88 percent for
allowing children up to age 26 to be covered on their parents'
insurance plan, 91 percent for providing tax credits to small
businesses and 73 percent for expanding Medicaid for the poor.
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"I do think it's striking that even among doctors who said they
voted for Donald Trump for president, only about a third - 38
percent - supported repealing the ACA in its entirety," study
coauthor Dr. Craig Pollack, an associate professor of general
internal medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore,
told Reuters Health.
Only 32 percent of doctors who said they were Republicans favored
complete repeal. The rate among Democrats was zero.
The survey was done by mail in December and January. The response
rate was 45 percent.
It focused on primary care physicians, a group that includes family
practitioners, pediatricians and internal medicine specialists
because "they're on the front line trying to advocate for their
patients," Pollack said.
In contrast, a survey done by The Kaiser Family Foundation and the
Commonwealth Fund during the first quarter of 2015, a year and a
half after the botched rollout of the Obamacare enrollment website,
found that 52 percent of primary care physicians had an unfavorable
view of the law while 48 percent viewed Obamacare favorably.
Political debate over the subject of physician support has been the
subject of a lot of hype. For example, in 2012, Republican lawmakers
were claiming that 83 percent of doctors were considering leaving
the profession because of Obamacare. That claim was based on a
survey by a group founded to oppose the law.
PolitiFact, the fact-checking website, ruled the claim false because
the survey never directly asked doctors if Obamacare had sparked
thoughts of quitting medicine.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2kxgz9e New England Journal of Medicine,
online January 25, 2017.
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