California to Deal with ObamaCare Doctor Shortage by Redefining Pharmacists and Optometrists as Doctors

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Everyone can see a doctor, so long as doctor is defined as your neighborhood pharmacist or a nurse practitioner. As health care becomes like Wal-Mart, everyone will be able to eventually see a medical professional of some kind on their $20,000 a year plan.

Finally America will be just like Europe.

As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama’s healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.

But a bill was signed? Are you telling me that passing a law doesn’t immediately create a supply to fill a demand? Wait… does this mean that Socialism doesn’t work?

But don’t worry, Socialism always has a solution. If there aren’t enough doctors, we’ll make more doctors. Unionized doctors without the medical school part.

Some lawmakers want to fill the gap by redefining who can provide healthcare. They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices.

Isn’t this a brave new world?

Sure your insurance will no longer cover doctor visits, but you will have access to a Nurse Practitioner, who in keeping with treatment quotas, may eventually give you a referral to an actual doctor, hopefully before you’re dead.

Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.

And the kid down the block who worked as a lifeguard, he can treat your broken leg. The EMT in your neighborhood is now your primary care physician.

It’s ObamaCare for an ObamaWorld.

“We’re going to be mandating that every single person in this state have insurance,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and leader of the effort to expand professional boundaries. “What good is it if they are going to have a health insurance card but no access to doctors?”

It’s no good at all, but calling a pharmacist a doctor does not mean that you now have access to a doctor. It means you’re being screwed.

Such “scope-of-practice” fights are flaring across the country as states brace for an influx of patients into already strained healthcare systems. About 350 laws altering what health professionals may do have been enacted nationwide in the last two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since Jan. 1, more than 50 additional proposals have been launched in 24 states.

This is your new Post-Doctor healthcare. It comes with ObamaCare.

Hernandez, who said he would introduce his legislation and hold a hearing on the issue next month, said his own experience as an optometrist shows the need to empower more practitioners. He said he often sees Medicaid patients who come to his La Puente practice because they have failed their vision test at the DMV. Many complain of constant thirst and frequent urination.

“I know it’s diabetes,” he said. But he is not allowed to diagnose or treat it and must refer those patients elsewhere. Many of them may face a months-long wait to see a doctor.

I often encounter people who have swollen joints and eat a lot of meat. I know it’s gout. Why can’t I diagnose them? Sure I’m not a doctor, but it’s not like California is fussy these days. Give me a Physicians Desk Reference and let me go to town.

Administrators of community clinics and public hospitals say nurse practitioners and other non-physician providers already play key roles in caring for patients, a trend they predict will grow as more Californians become insured and enter the healthcare system.

Critics of ObamaCare repeatedly predicted that this would happen. That you wouldn’t see doctors, just nurse practitioners. And we were told that was crazy. It would never happen. And they were right. Patients won’t be seeing nurse practitioners, they’ll be on a waiting list to see a nurse practitioner.

This is your health care. This is your health care on Obama.

  • joe meister

    Obama care is stupid
    Doctors get paid like teachers

    • EarlyBird

      Doctors currently get paid like salesmen – they only get paid if they "do" something, and just like salesman, will try to sell you on something even if you don't really need it. It's part of the culture.

      I've worked in the medical field for nearly 20 years. Doctor's don't get paid unless they write you a prescription, refer you to another physician, get an expensive X-ray, CT or PET scan done, do a procedure, have another "follow up," for that cold you had in 1965, etc.

      That has created SO much cost in our system.

    • Amy

      " calling a pharmacist a doctor does not mean that you now have access to a doctor. It means you’re being screwed."
      Technically a pharmacist that has been trained and licensed in the U.S. holds a Doctorate degree (Doctor of Pharmacy or Pharm.D.) so for all of you uneducated rumor spreaders out there, a pharmacist goes through rigorous schooling in this country and knows as much as your M.D. (if not more) in many cases. That's why there are now Ambulatory Care pharmacists who have limited prescribing power in treating some chronic illnesses. Also, for your information, many pharmacists nowadays are doing residencies (up to two years) at hospitals! So I don't see what this whole panic is for! Trust your healthcare system people!

  • guest

    just because someone has health insurance doesn't mean that everyone will need a doctor all at once.

    • patron

      It will mean people will start eating and drugging themselves to death, and filling the ER due to hangovers, sore throats, and herpes flare ups.

      • EarlyBird

        Exactly the opposite, Patron: the way doctors get paid right now, you're far likely to get prescriptions, treatments and procedures you don't need. And if you're uninsured you're going to end up in the ER and have the tax payer and insured person foot the bill.

  • patron

    "I'm having shooting pain from my chest down through my left arm, and I can't breathe, Dr. Montel Williams"

    "Here's a joint!"

  • figment

    well, it's not like they didn't know it was coming.. I believe about 6 months ago, CA passed a law allowing non physicians to peform abortions. You know, basically reverting back to that back alley argument when women start to die from complications in larger numbers then they already do now.

    • EarlyBird

      You don't need to be a doctor to perform an abortion. It's a hideous and immoral procedure, but it's not a particularly complex one. As long as you do it under sterile conditions with proper monitoring of the soon-to-be ex-mother, there is zero parallel to the "back alley" scenario.

      Not that you're interested in fairness or logic, but just thought I'd throw some facts into your fantasy.

  • kafir4life

    California could also train its illegals as doctors too. It's doubtful they'll notice the difference, and if they do, they're just racists anyway.

  • Male Matters USA

    Virtually every state has a doctor shortage. Obamacare has put the cart before the horse. There are consequences.

    See "Obamacare: Making a bad situation worse" http://relevantmatters.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/o

  • Mindy

    Don’t worry, it won’t be long before there will be plenty of “medical technicians” called doctors. Really all it takes is the ability to read, a good computer and the right software and boom you have a general practitioner., really nearly anyone can do it now. Yes, a “brave new world” awaits us under obamacare. Nothing could go wrong now, could it? It should not be called healthcare anymore as it is actually “death care”, they will now “help” you along if you don’t shuffle off the mortal coil fast enough to suit them.

    • EarlyBird

      Mindy, though you're being sarcastic, you took the words right out of my mouth.

      There is ZERO reason you need an MD who's gone through 12 years of schooling to do a basic physical and do 98% of what a general practitioner does in a typical exam. That's why so many clinics are going with Physicians' Assistants and Nurse Practioners (both who can prescribe medications). They do just as good as a job for less money and so costs come down for all involved. (Actually, I'll take an EXPERIENCED NP or PA or a less experienced MD any day. Experience means a lot.)

  • Spikey1

    Doctor = optometrist = glaucoma = marijuana for all ailments and ages.

    • Joe Tuck

      Dude!

  • Rifleman

    The government will do all kinds of things it wouldn't allow of private health care. Once we have single payer, we'll see tort reform too.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "It’s no good at all, but calling a pharmacist a doctor does not mean that you now have access to a doctor. It means you’re being screwed."

    Now we see what "transformation" looks like.

  • EarlyBird

    ObamaCare ADDED to an existing doctor shortage because now 32 million more people who were not previously insured, are now are insured and able to see the doctor.

    And no, idiots, it's not just a bunch of "illegals" and black criminals running to the doctor on your dime: it's hard working people, business owners, church and synagogue goers, even white Republicans! who couldn't go to the doctor without insurance, because they simpy couldn't afford it.

    You ALREADY paid for them when they ended up in the ER for common colds, and for small things that became big and expensive things, which, because they couldn't afford basic preventative care, couldn't deal with sooner.

  • billfrezza

    Doctor Shortage? Let Idled Postal Workers Fill In! http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2013/02/13