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A healthcare system only a Democratic doctor could love

Healthcare

Doctors used to be Republican. Not anymore.

A new study reveals that since 1992, more physicians are contributing money to the Democratic party.

Dr. David Rothman, co-author of the study and social medicine professor at Columbia University, said two major factors contribute to the 20-year trend: more women in medicine and more salaried physicians.

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Women, who are typically stronger proponents of the Democratic party, are beginning to replace male doctors. According to 2012-2013 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly one-third of U.S. doctors are women, and almost half of students graduating from medical school and entering the workforce are female.

These younger medical professionals favor steady schedules over the demanding pace of private practice. Unlike their predecessors, they prefer spending time at home rather than running their own practices. Phillip Miller, vice president of communications with Merritt Hawkins, a physician placement service, believes the baby-boom generation was more entrepreneurial and willing to work long hours to run their business in addition to providing clinical care. The incoming physicians prefer to focus solely on patients.

Healthcare reform is also taking a toll on privately owned physician practices. An increasing number of doctors are concerned about economic stability and see the Affordable Care Act as something that will provide a safe haven, according to Miller. With economic pressures mounting, including reimbursement reductions, doctors are scrambling to become hospital employees. Once employed, physicians are able to take advantage of the incentives provided by the Affordable Care Act to networked employees.

Healthcare reform “tends to promote larger organizations,” Miller said, because the law requires doctors to do things the same way and only large groups have the ability to navigate the system.

And the trend of Democrat-leaning doctors shows no signs of stopping, Rothman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kristen Eicher
Kristen Eicher

Kristen is a World Journalism Institute intern.

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