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Doctors differ on health care reform proposals

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Stacey Vanek Smith: Today is the third and final day the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the legality of the Obama Administration’s health care reforms. But what do doctors think of the Affordable Care Act?

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler took a look.

Jeff Tyler: I spoke with three doctors in different parts of the country.

Dr. Jane Orient is from Tucson, Ariz.

Jane Orient: I’m a physician and executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

She sees the new health care reforms as the biggest government expansion since the New Deal. Orient has sued to block it. She says it could drive some doctors out of business.

Orient: Already it’s created two million words worth of new regulations, greatly increasing the compliance costs on everybody. Which will probably make it increasingly difficult or impossible for small practices to continue, just because they can’t bear this overhead of compliance costs.

In Albany, N.Y., Dr. Andrew Coates is an internist and president-elect of Physicians for a National Health Program. He would like to see health coverage for everyone, but can’t get behind the new law.

Andrew Coates: I’m not convinced that it’s an incremental step in the right direction, at all. The reform was written by the insurance industry. The legislation was modeled in Massachusetts, where it was really drafted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Coates says the Affordable Care Act does not keep a lid on prices and favors insurers.

Coates: For this reform to hand $447 billion over to the private health insurance industry to subsidize premiums of working people who otherwise couldn’t afford health insurance is in many ways a bailout of the industry.

Finally, in Minnetonka, Minn., Dr. Ernest Swihart supports the new law. He’s a behavioral pediatrician whose patients need mental health insurance.

Ernest Swihart: I see lots of patients coming in who can’t afford their medicine, can’t afford to see me, because they don’t have coverage.

Some of his young patients can only afford to see him because the new health care law allows parents to keep their kids on their insurance policies longer.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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