Were you aware that American doctors are so upset over Obamacare’s changes to the health care system that a full 83 percent have actually considered quitting the practice of medicine? To the delight of conservative news sources like The Daily Caller & Fox News, a “non-partisan” survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association (DPMA) found this to be the case.
But who is the DPMA, and what was the nature of this survey? I’m so glad you asked. The DPMA, an organization specifically dedicated to repealing the Affordable Care Act, is a member of the National Tea Party Federation and the American Grassroots Coalition. It’s also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative legislative think tank working to influence politics for corporate benefit. In short, it is anything but “non-partisan.”
How do current changes in the medical system affect your desire to practice medicine?
I'm re-energized – 4.6%
Makes me think about quitting – 82.6%
Unsure/no opinion – 12.8%
Since it doesn’t specify which changes in the medical system it’s asking about, doctors are left to speculate and answer based on what they imagine the question to be asking. Moreover, the choice between “re-energized,” “thinking about quitting” or “unsure” hardly provides a wealth of choices for the thoughtful person.
As for methodology…
The survey was conducted by fax and online from April 18 to May 22, 2012. DPMAF obtained the office fax numbers of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice, and 16, 227 faxes were successfully delivered. Doctors were asked to return their completed surveys by fax, or online at a web address included in the faxed copy. Browser rules prevented doctors from filing duplicate surveys, and respondents were asked to provide personal identification for verification. The response rate was 4.3% for a total of 699 completed surveys.
So DPMA sent doctors’ offices a blast fax, waited for faxed or online responses, and then counted up the tiny percentage of answers they received. No social studies high school student would get a passing grade for designing a poll like that; the point is to get a random cross-section of the group being polled, not wait for the self-selectors to get back to you. Self-selectors by nature tend to be the activists, the people with axes to grind, and in this case, a majority of the doctors who received the blast fax probably threw it out as soon as they realized they were receiving Tea Party spam.
So what does the DPMA survey ultimately tell us? Nothing of consequence, except that the conservatives are really mad and are not going to stop talking about it.