Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekly Standard Reports Bogus Claim That Health Reform Would Make 46% of Doctors Quit Medicine

The Weekly Standard (and other conservative media) has reported the results of a survey that purports to show that healthcare reform will cause nearly 1/2 of primary care physicians to quit practicing medicine. This survey and the Weekly Standard's use of it are wrong on many levels.

First, the survey states that nearly 1/2 of doctors would retire early if the public option were passed. The public option, however, is officially off the table. Nevertheless, the Weekly Standard headline declares that health reform will cause 46% of primary care doctors to leave the profession.

Also, it is unclear how the pollster conducted the survey. The pollster does not provide cross-tabs. So, the background of the respondents is unclear.  Also, the methodology is undisclosed.  It is impossible to determine whether the views the survey reports represents a random sample of US physicians.

Finally, many conservative media, including the Weekly Standard, falsely claimed that the New England Journal of Medicine compiled the study.  This prompted the NEJM to submit a disclaimer.  The Weekly Standard subsequently submited a correction. The Medicus Firm, a doctor placement company, conducted the study in December 2009. 

The results of the Medicus Firm survey are quite similar to those of a widely discredited Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll.  Both surveys, however, are vastly incongruent with other polls that measure the opinion of doctors regarding healthcare reform.

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