When Masschusetts passed its health care overhaul in 2006, one of the key arguments supporters made was that it would bring down provider wait times. Instead, the opposite happened: Wait times grew all over the state, and Boston quickly came to lead the nation in medical waiting periods. Now, rather predictably, under the Affordable Care Act, we're poised to see similar increases nation-wide. From The Hill:
Richard Foster, Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told The Hill that the current dearth of primary care physicians could lead to greater stress on hospital emergency rooms.
"The supply of doctors can't be increased very quickly–there's a time lag," he said, adding, "Is the last resort to newly covered people the emergency room? I would say that is a possibility, but I wouldn't say anybody has a very good handle on exactly how much of an infrastructure problem there will be or exactly how it might work out."
The Academy of Architecture for Health predicts hospitals will need at least $2 trillion over the next 20 years to meet the coming demand.
"As more people have access, you have to deal with the increased capacity," said Andrew Goldberg, senior director of federal relations at the American Institute of Architects. "At the moment there is not a lot of building going on because of the economy and a lot of health care facilities can't get the financing. We've been working on the Hill to try to address that issue."
You might argue, however, that the law's authors already addressed the issue—albeit not in the way Goldberg is hoping—when they imposed an immediate expansion ban on physician-owned hospitals.