Obamacare 2012: prognosis unclear for interventional pain management

Laxmaiah Manchikanti, Joshua A Hirsch
Pain Physician 2012, 15 (5): E629-40
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), informally referred to as ObamaCare, is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. ACA has substantially changed the landscape of medical practice in the United States and continues to influence all sectors, in particular evolving specialties such as interventional pain management. ObamaCare has been signed into law amidst major political fallouts, has sustained a Supreme Court challenge and emerged bruised, but still very much alive. While proponents argue that ObamaCare will provide insurance for almost everyone, with an improvement in the quality of and reduction in the cost of health care,, opponents criticize it as being a massive bureaucracy laden with penalties and taxes, that will ultimately eliminate personal medicine and individual practices. Based on the 2 years since the passage of ACA in 2010, the prognosis for interventional pain management is unclear. The damage sustained to interventional pain management and the majority of medicine practices is irreparable. ObamaCare may provide insurance for all, but with cuts in Medicare to fund Obamacare, a limited expansion of Medicaid, the inadequate funding of exchanges, declining employer health insurance coverage and skyrocketing disability claims, the coverage will be practically nonexistent. ObamaCare is composed of numerous organizations and bureaucracies charged with controlling the practice of medicine through the extension of regulations. Apart from cutting reimbursements and reducing access to interventional pain management, administration officials are determined to increase the role of midlevel practitioners and reduce the role of individual physicians by liberalizing the scope of practice regulations and introducing proposals to reduce medical education and training.

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