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American Medical Association: Obamacare sticks doctors with unpaid bills

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The American Medical Association is protesting an Obamacare provision it argues will leave doctors with the bill for up to two months of unpaid care.

The provision requires insurers to allow patients with federally-subsidized health insurance plans a 90-day grace period to pay their premiums before canceling the coverage. Insurers are on the hook for the first 30 days of care, if the customer never pays up, but doctors will be stuck without payment for any services between 30 and 90 days, until the coverage is canceled.

The American Medical Association was a strong supporter of Obamacare.

“If a patient is being treated for a serious illness, that requires ongoing care,” Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, president of the AMA, said in a press release Wednesday. “The physician is having to assume the financial risk for this. That’s the bottom line.”

The AMA released new resources Wednesday for its member physicians, offering “step-by-step help for minimizing risk,” while admitting that the Obamacare rule “could pose a significant financial risk for medical practices.”

The doctors’ association spent $22 million lobbying for Obamacare to pass in 2010, the most of any health care organization, and has kept up their spending in the years since while the law’s final regulations have been tinkered with.

The rule’s damaging effect on doctors — especially those with private practices — exemplifies the split between the AMA’s lobbying ambitions and the outlook of the average doctors that do the work.

After Obamacare’s passage, just 13 percent of American physicians agreed with the AMA’s support of the law, according to a survey from physician recruitment firm Jackson & Coker. Surveys have repeatedly found that doctors don’t believe the law will let them help patients and make a living.

In California, low reimbursement rates have led almost seven out of ten physicians to reject exchange insurance plans. Six out of ten doctors nationwide expect their colleagues to retire earlier due to the health care law; 75 percent of all physicians (and 81 percent of the most highly trained, surgeons) think the best of the nation’s youth won’t go into medicine as a result.

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