58% of Physicians 'Strongly Negative' on AHCA

John Commins, May 15, 2017

Survey data suggests that physicians dislike the GOP's American Health Care Act even more than they disliked the Affordable Care Act.

Two-thirds of physicians do not like the American Health Care Act, the Republican House bill to unwind Obamacare, while only about a quarter support it, a new survey indicates.

The survey of 1,112 physicians by the Dallas-based physician search firm Merritt Hawkins found that 66% of doctors have a negative impression of the AHCA, 26% have a positive impression, and 7% are neutral. 

"Physicians have consistently expressed dissatisfaction with government-sponsored healthcare legislation in the past, and the AHCA does not reverse this trend," Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a media release. "So far, the bill rates a strongly negative diagnosis from physicians."

In a 2016 survey of 17,236 physicians that Merritt Hawkins conducted for The Physicians Foundation, 23% of physicians gave the Affordable Care Act a grade of A or B, 28% gave it an average grade of C, while 48% gave it a D or F.

The AHCA, now being considered by the Senate, gets an even higher negative rating in the new Merritt Hawkins survey. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed have a strongly negative impression of the bill, 8% have a somewhat negative impression, while 7% are neutral.

At the other end, 27% of physicians favor full repeal and replacement, while only 7% of respondents say keep it as it is, indicating the extent of dissatisfaction with the ACA, the HealthLeaders Media survey showed.

The Merritt Hawkins survey findings are in line with a HealthLeaders Media survey published in January, which showed that healthcare industry leaders support changes to the ACA rather than replacing it. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said the best option for the healthcare industry regarding the ACA would be to make some changes but otherwise retain it.

Physicians Groups Denounce AHCA

Opposition to the AHCA among practicing physicians is reflected by the nation's major physicians associations, all of which have come out against the repeal and replace proposal. 

The American Medical Association, the nation's largest physicians' association, made clear its strong opposition to the ACHA in a March 7 letter to Congress, and again on April 27. Of course, the AMA has a long history of railing against government-sponsored healthcare.   

The Merritt Hawkins survey was sent by email to about 80,000 physicians randomly selected from Merritt Hawkins' database and has an error rate of +/- 2.87% as determined by experts in statistical response at the University of Tennessee.    

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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