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. 


Protecting The Flock

I had an interesting experience last weekend. Being an avid Angry Bird player, I was anxious to see the movie. We traveled over to the Wynsong theater and were greeted by the first responders of our community. Firemen, sheriffs, police officers, Lifeforce all arrived to show that they were there to "protect the flock". The flock are the birds that are being eaten by the pigs...for ... (click for more)

Late-Night Harassment By The Signal Mountain Police - And Response (13)

I am writing about the misconduct of the Signal Mountain Police Department. This is a repetitive civil rights problem, systemic within their department, with no hint of remorse or regret or a notion to change, though they have been confronted numerous times.   I live on Signal Mountain. In the last few months, I have been pulled over three times while I was driving three ... (click for more)

Sources Say Domestic Incident Involving Mayor's Aide Came After Husband Confronted Her And Mayor Behind Restaurant; Berke Says Charge "Absolutely False"; Fletcher Says Gave Shelter To Lacie Stone; Case Handled Like Any Other

A domestic disorder involving a top female aide to Mayor Andy Berke was sparked after her husband recently confronted the aide and the mayor in a parked car behind a Mexican restaurant, several sources said.   Mayor Andy Berke said late Tuesday night, "Last weekend a member of my senior staff was the victim of a domestic assault involving her husband. Upon being arrested ... (click for more)

Roommate Of Chance LeCroy Describes Sept. 9, 2010 Murder

The roommate of Chance LeCroy told a Criminal Court jury on Tuesday of the terrifying day that robbers burst into their residence and killed the 21-year-old LeCroy. Patrick Carmody, one of three men charged in the slaying, is standing trial in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman. Also charged were Ronald Lee Pittman and Billy Bob Parton. Carmody pleaded not guilty to ... (click for more)

Steventon, Cady Lead McCallie To 1-0 Division II-AA State Baseball Win

LEBANON, Tenn. – Rested and ready, McCallie junior Palmer Steventon pitched like the game’s outcome depended on his strong left arm. It did. Steventon, who nursed a slight shoulder problem through an idle final weekend to the regular season, fired a five-hit shutout, teammate Ethan Cady produced the only run with a fifth inning RBI double and the Blue Tornado posted a ... (click for more)

Meigs County Upends Silverdale In Class A Softball

MURFREESBORO – The Meigs County Lady Tigers have been on a collision course with the Silverdale Lady Seahawk softball team all season and they finally got a chance to play – in the opening round of the Class A state tournament here at the StarPlex Field Number 4. By far the two best teams in that classification, the Lady Tigers claimed round one with a come-from-behind 3-1 ... (click for more)