As we join the latest episode of Emo Senator, we find our hero, Mike Parry, the Belle of Waseca County, exasperated at the way that increased access to health insurance will allow more people to see doctors.
This consternation comes after State Senator Parry, running what the Mankato Free Press called a "mudfest" of a primary with Norseland farmer Allen Quist, read a headline in the New York Times: Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law.
The Emo Senator rages in a statement in the "News" section of his campaign website:
"But The New York Times offers another important one. Its headline shouts: Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law."
The New York Times reported today that President Obama's centerpiece legislation designed to provide medical care for more Americans is likely to have the opposite effect as it exasperates the current U.S. doctor shortage.
The statement, along with a request to pass the new Farm Bill (which the incumbent, Tim Walz worked on, though Parry doesn't share that with his fans), comes after archrival Allen Quist chastized Parry for a raft of press releases that Quist characterized as personal attacks.
Fiddle-de-dee! Our hero pivots, decrying the way that increasing the ability to see a doctor will exacerbate the nation's physician shortage. The Times article notes:
In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now.
EmoSen quotes this passage from the article:
. . .And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. . .
How awful! A surplus of patients! Damn that Walz! But take away that insurance, and those younger folks without insurance will go back to clogging the emergency rooms or foregoing medical care at all.
The Times article notes that training more doctors takes a long time, so perhaps our hero has an elegant solution in proposing to cut off the increased demand by the newly insured.
As one wag suggested on Twitter, Parry hasn't proposed increased funding for medical education.
Rather, Republicans controlling the Minnesota state legislature advocated--and got--cuts in medical education. Better than increasing revenue.
Indeed, the scriptwriter learned by reading Elizabeth Dunbar's April report on MPR, State funds for medical training in limbo:
State and federal funds pay most of the training costs for doctors. But in reaching a budget deal last summer to resolve the state government shutdown, Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders slashed training funds from about $58 million to about $31 million.
Figures at the U's Minnesota Medical Foundation suggest that the change from a DFL-controlled legislature to a Republican fiefdom reluctant to raise revenues made a huge difference:
Minnesota hospitals and clinics are feeling the pinch of 2011 state legislation that severely reduces funding to Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC). The cuts jeopardize University of Minnesota Medical School training programs, partner hospitals, and, ultimately, access to health care in Minnesota.
The state program compensates hospitals, clinics, and other health care providers for a portion of the costs of clinical training for health professional students and residents. As a result of the cutbacks, some hospitals and clinics must reduce the number of residents they train or stop training medical students entirely.
The Legislature’s MERC allocation in 2010 was $63.6 million, including $5.35 million in direct payments to the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview (UMMC). In 2011, MERC funding for hospitals and clinics was reduced by more than 50 percent to $31.5 million, and direct payments to the University and UMMC were eliminated.
In March 2011, CBS Minnesota reported about the gap between the Governor's proposal and Republican slashing in Looming Budget Cuts Have ‘U’ Medical School Worried Sick:
University of Minnesota’s Medical School took its worries over budget cuts to state lawmakers Tuesday.
To help ease a $5 billion budget deficit, Gov. Mark Dayton has suggested a 6 percent cut in state funding to the U of M. However, some lawmakers are asking University administrators to outline the potential impacts of 15 percent to 20 percent cuts.
Shortage of doctors? Mike Parry has the key to solving that crisis of scarcity. Take away medical insurance.
Tune in to our next thrilling episode.
Image: Mike Parry, by Tild.