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

Friday, October 4, 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. 


An Open Letter To Tennessee Electors Of The President

This an open letter to the following people who are Tennessee's presidential electors this year: Joey Jacobs (Brentwood), Beth Scott Clayton Amos (Nashville), Jason Mumpower (Bristol), Susan Mills (Maryville), Liz Holiway (Harriman), Lynne Davis (Lascassas), Tom Lawless (Nashville), Mike Callahan (Monterey), Pat Allen (Clarksville), Shannon Haynes (Alamo), and Drew Daniel (Memphis).  ... (click for more)

Is Poverty Inherited?

Is poverty inherited was meant and is meant as query to all of us.  The school system is a mess. Yes, a mess. Teachers in most of the schools in both the inner city and the fringes deal with behavior problems of some magnitude. The obvious solutionm rid the troublesome student and all will be well. That argument accomplishes little. Lil Joey in the back of the classroom ... (click for more)

Lawsuit Says Girl Received Severe Traumatic Brain Injury In Woodmore Bus Wreck

A new lawsuit in the tragic Woodmore Elementary School bus wreck said one girl on the bus suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Attorneys Joseph Fried and Michael Goldberg of Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Circuit Court on behalf of the minor daughter of Shanquatta Byrd. The bus driver, Johnthony Walker, was transporting 37 students from ... (click for more)

Officer Who Was Shot Returned Fire; Is Recovering Well; Shooter Still On Loose

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday morning that the officer who was shot three times on Thursday is recovering well.   Chief Fletcher said the officer was wearing a bullet-proof vest and one bullet hit the vest, which protected him during the shooting.  The officer was able to return fire, although Chief Fletcher would not comment on how many bullets ... (click for more)

Mississippi State Quarterback Nick Tiano To Play At UTC

Former Baylor School quarterback Nick Tiano announced Monday that he is transferring from Mississippi State to UTC. He tweeted, "I'm very excited to announce that I am going back home to play for The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga! # GoMoc" Tiano had announced five days ago that he was leaving the Bulldogs after his freshman year. Tiano appeared in four ... (click for more)

Jones Will "Thoroughly Examine Everything In UT Program"

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football coach  and seniors Joshua Dobbs and LaTroy Lewis met with reporters on Monday in their first press conference for the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Unranked Tennessee (8-4) will play Nebraska (9-3) in the Dec. 30 at Nissan Stadium. The game will feature a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN. The Cornhuskers are No. 21 in the ... (click for more)