Obstetrics, as a medical specialty, has been rising on the endangered medical species charts. One might even say that the field of obstetrics is suffering from a political, late term abortion. There are several reasons for this. Chiefly among them is the usurious malpractice rates imposed on this category of physician. Malpractice insurance rates for obstetricians are more costly than malpractice rates for cardiothoracic surgeons. It is getting more and more difficult for an obstetrician to generate enough income to pay for his/her malpractice premiums. Now, there is a new aspirant for the executioner’s job on the firing squad.
On January 16, 2013 Windber Hospital, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, announced that it will cease delivering babies as of March 31st. The hospital gave as its reasons:
1. Its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and
2. Because hospital officials believe they can’t afford it, based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms. The reimbursements will negatively affect both the hospital’s bottom line as well as that of the obstetricians.
The “unaffordable reimbursements” in question are the lower reimbursement rates scheduled in the Affordable Care Act. For low information voters, that means Obamacare.
It is significant that Windber Hospital performs a relatively small number of deliveries per year; they have averaged approximately 200 deliveries per annum since 2005. That makes the first reason that Windber Hospital cited as being responsible for the closure of their obstetrics program all the more noteworthy: Two of Windber’s staff obstetricians are leaving the field in order to “focus on” practicing gynecology. Two others are leaving the hospital altogether. Losing four doctors for program of this size makes having an obstetrics department unsustainable. A resulting loss of jobs will be borne by nurses, clerks and ancillary staff that count the obstetrics department among those they service. Windber Hospital could not state how many jobs will be lost.
All of the mayhem mentioned so far is only on the provider side of the equation; it doesn’t take into account the consequences such a loss will have on the population. It isn’t difficult to work out how a shortage of obstetricians might affect the public. Just look at our neighbor to the north, Canada, which has a shortage of care similar to what we’re about to experience here. It is not unheard of for Canadian women in labor to be forced to travel, sometimes for hundreds of miles, by air, to find a hospital in which to have a baby.
Windber Hospital is not the first hospital in America to see such obstetrician defections. They will not be the last. And this is only the beginning. Obstetricians will not be the only category of physician to leave the medical field. Shortages of available doctors, in every field, are predicted nationwide.
It is not uncommon for liberals to mandate actions that wind up hurting everyone. Their justification is always “I meant well.” The likes of John Edwards, who made millions channeling infants pursuing obstetrical lawsuits and other Democrat supporters of the Trial Lawyers Association made certain that tort reform was never tackled as a means to curb health care costs. Lawsuits are the primary cause of towering physician fees and are large contributors to escalating insurance rates.
Instead, liberals have gone out of their way to level the playing field in such a way that many doctors will no longer be able to practice at all. What good is Obamacare “coverage” if there aren’t enough doctors to provide care? For anyone? One wonders how liberals will break it to their base that they might be required to stop having children someday soon.