Just as cars can’t go anywhere without drivers and employees can’t work without bosses, health care doesn’t happen when there are no doctors around. And when an estimated 70 percent of the doctors in the nation’s deepest-blue state are rebelling against Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act is forcing a critical decision: America will have to junk Obamacare and go back to square one on health insurance reform, or trash the last vestige of private health care in this country by forcing doctors to do the government’s bidding.
The rebellion among California physicians was detailed earlier this week by Washington Examiner senior investigative reporter Richard Pollock. “Independent insurance brokers who work with both insurance companies and doctor networks estimate that about 70 percent of California's 104,000 licensed doctors are boycotting the exchange,” Pollock wrote. The president and speaker of the legislative body of the California Medical Association -- the Golden State chapter of the Obamacare-endorsing American Medical Association -- both confirmed to Pollock that the rebellion is widespread and intensely felt.
California's doctor rebellion isn't unique. Pollock previously reported comparable situations at 15 other locations around the country. Not only are thousands of doctors saying no to Obamacare, so are major health insurance providers, including United Healthcare, Aetna and Cigna, as well as some of the nation's most famous hospitals. Among the latter group are Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York, and the Physicians Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida, which was formerly associated with the Cleveland Clinic.
These developments herald an approaching crisis for Obamacare that will dwarf the present confusion and political damage caused by disastrous launch of healthcare.gov. The coming crisis will force the hands of President Obama and the program’s main congressional advocates, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. If just half — to say nothing of 70 percent — of America’s doctors refuse to treat Obamacare patients, Obama, Reid and Pelosi will have to decide whether to throw in the towel or to ramrod through Congress legislation to force doctors to do their bidding.
Being the smart politicians that they are, they may already have contingency plans to do just that. As National Review Online's Kevin Williamson pointed out recently, “In the long run, the fact that physicians have a choice about whom they see and where they practice is the most significant challenge to the full implementation of Obamacare. The logical thing -- politically and economically -- is to eliminate that choice. You don't have to formally nationalize the health-care industry; you just nationalize 40 percent of each physician's practice and call it his fair share.' ”
In the meantime, unless their rebellion magically goes away soon, expect in coming days an increasing flood of criticism of physicians from Obamacare’s backers. They will never admit Obamacare causes a doctor shortage, so they will demonize them to set the stage for nationalizing them. They’ll probably call it something like the “National Health Service.”