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Big Government and Big Hospitals: An Obamacare Love Story

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Once upon a time, I sat on the Alcohol Beverage Licensing subcommittee of my local Advisory Neighborhood Council. I was trying to clear away regulatory hurdles to bars that wanted to come to H Street, NE.

As the first bars came in, one of my colleagues on the ABL lamented that six of the first seven bars were owned by one guy. But then another colleague said, “but the upside of this is that when we want something from the bars, we only have to talk to one or two businessmen!”

I constantly write on how big business loves big government. But we shouldn’t forget that the feeling is mutual. Obamacare is a case in point, as Scott Gottlieb explains at the Wall Street Journal today:

Big government likes big providers. That’s why ObamaCare is gradually making the local doctor-owned medical practice a relic. In the not too distant future, most physicians will be hourly wage earners, likely employed by a hospital chain.

Why? Because when doctors practice in small offices, it is hard for Washington to regulate what they do. There are too many of them, and the government is too remote. It is far easier for federal agencies to regulate physicians if they work for big hospitals. So ObamaCare shifts money to favor the delivery of outpatient care through hospital-owned networks.

The irony is that in the name of lowering costs, ObamaCare will almost certainly make the practice of medicine more expensive. It turns out that when doctors become salaried hospital employees, their overall productivity falls.

Gottlieb says that soon half of all doctors will work for hospitals, and that patients will suffer.

I wrote on ObamaCare causing industry consolidation back in November. Of course, the American Hospital Association lobbied for and defended Obamacare.

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