The Future Of Pain Management In Tennessee – Obamacare’s Impact

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare began enrollment efforts this week. In recent months my patients have asked me what will happen to them under these new health care laws and legislation. Although I cannot say for certain what will happen, I can make some educated guesses based on the content of the legislation. 

In the short term, nothing should happen to the care you receive. You will still be able to visit your doctor of choice, receive surgery and important injections, and fill your prescriptions. 

In the long term, I feel things will change significantly and for the worse. As full time employees lose their health benefits or are converted to part time employees, more and more people will be forced to enroll in state or federal sponsored programs. In order to maintain the low premiums we all pay for health care coverage, there needs to be a significant reduction in costs to insurance carriers. This means fewer allowed procedures, limitation on the name brand medications you receive, and more. 

As a result of Obamacare, it has been estimated by physician recruiters that more than 50 percent of physicians will retire early. As office-based pain management becomes less profitable (remember pain management centers employ nurses and administrative personnel, as well as rent and other expenses out of the money paid to physicians) many anesthesia-based pain providers will return to the operating room. This will force more and more patients to fewer physicians. This will result in longer waiting times and could very likely result in pain management physicians ceasing to accept any insurance.

The use of prescription medications to treat and manage chronic pain will continue, but will likely be limited to cheaper generic medications. For most patients this will not be a problem but for others with allergies or who need newer medications there will be no other options available. 

In short, I am concerned about how Obamacare will impact legitimate pain management practices and the patients who require our assistance. Ultimately, I fear we will have a two-tiered system, much like we see in the United Kingdom, where patients who have government insurance experience long waits and limited services, while patients who can pay cash will have the same care you once had.

Welcome to socialized medicine. 

Dr. Marc Valley, MD is a board certified anesthesiologist and a pain management specialist who received his training in the Air Force and at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Valley is the founder of CIRCE Medical Services, a Chattanooga-based pain management practice. He has practiced for over 25 years in the fields of interventional and non-interventional pain management. 


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

In Favor Of Dean And Wamp

I don't normally endorse political candidates (I always recall the joke about the hardware store selling more hip boots and shovels during election years). This year I will make an exception. I have known Vince Dean for over 30 years. I know him to be an honest person that you can actually talk to even when there isn't an election going on. When he was at the police department, ... (click for more)

One Of Oldest Log Homes At University Of The South Suffers Heavy Fire Damage

The oldest log home at the University of the South at Sewanne suffered heavy damage on Friday night. Fire broke out at the historic Rebel’s Rest at approximately 11:30 p.m. Fire units arrived a short time later, but flames were shooting high in the air. Rebel's Roost was built as the family home of Major George Fairbanks a year after the close of the Civil War. The house ... (click for more)

Corker Says Congress Needs Time To Review Plan For VA Reforms

As negotiations between the Senate and the House of Representatives over legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continue,  Senator Bob Corker urged that lawmakers have the opportunity to review a complete Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score on any final conference VA bill before taking a vote. “Our veterans deserve solutions to the systemic problems ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Sacramento Gold Saturday At 7:30

The Chattanooga Football Club will host yet another playoff soccer game on Saturday as Sacramento Gold comes to town in the National NPSL final four semifinal game.  The NPSL National semifinals are powered by Mitre.  Midwest region champions Lansing United will play Northeast region champions Red Buls U23s in New York on Sunday in the other semifinal match.  The ... (click for more)

Lookouts Get 8-7 9th Inning Win Over Biscuits

Chris O’Brien’s only hit of the game was the one that mattered the most, giving the Chattanooga Lookouts (12-21)  a win in the bottom of the ninth inning on his RBI single against the Montgomery Biscuits (19-16) before a raucous sell-out crowd of 6,378. The first inning came and went innocuously, but the second showed the first offensive outburst of the night as the ... (click for more)