Don’t lose any sleep over supply of doctors

By Jason Kelley, M.D.
The Stowe Reporter, March 22, 2012

I have to take issue with the assertions in Mr. Steve Chambers’ letter (Stowe Reporter, March 15) regarding the health-care legislation passed last year by the Vermont Legislature.

He makes it clear that he doesn’t like the legislation, describing it as “reckless,” a “train wreck” and even “Marxist.”

His comments were based on a recent symposium at the public safety building which brought to Stowe three staunch opponents of the legislation.

There’s not room enough to rebut all the assertions made by Mr. Chambers, but as a physician I have to take issue with one point. Among the scare tactics he musters about Vermont’s novel legislation is the claim that untold numbers of doctors will “flee” Vermont when it is implemented.

There are simply no data to support this assertion.

To the contrary, plenty of physicians are attracted to the quality of life that Vermont is so proud of. Indeed, the record shows that the pool of licensed physicians in Vermont has more than kept pace with the growth of the population. As a result, Vermont now boasts the sixth-highest proportion of physicians per capita of any state. That translates into nearly 600 more doctors per capita than the national average.

And if any ideologue physicians left the state, they would quickly be replaced by newly recruited physicians. At a rally at Montpelier last year, 250 medical students and doctors in training from as far afield as Oregon and California made it clear they would be particularly attracted to practicing in our state when universal health care coverage is implemented.

Vermont’s supply of doctors is not something we have to lose any sleep over.

Dr. Jason Kelley lives in Hartford, Vt.