Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Health Care Jobs as an Innovative Solution to National Unemployment
Key Words – Innovation, health care employment, unemployment, hospitals, doctors office, outpatient facilities
Summary of Interview with David Cook, CEO of Medical Association of Georgia
Preface – This is an interview with David Cook, CEO of the Medical Association of Georgia, a position he has held since 2001. The Association has about 7000 members. David is interested in advancing the notion that private physicians in their offices are a significantly positive economic force in the community at large. He believes an expanded health care system is good for the economy. It yields increased employment and more tax revenues for local, state, and national economies.
Problems and their innovative solutions are in the eyes of the beholder. In the eyes of the Obama administration, health care is a major problem bringing down the national economy and contributing to economic woes. These woes include falling government tax revenues and rising unemployment. In Cook’s eyes, doctors and the health care sector add taxes and jobs, easing the recession.
Cook has a point. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care provides over 15 million jobs for wage and salary workers. Ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are health care related. Health care will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population.
Innovation depends on grassroots attitude as well as federal altitude. As President Reagan observed, government is often the problem rather than the solution. Many federal jobs are short-lived make-work, such as census takers. And as Reagan noted in his story of the boy buried up to his neck in horse manure, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”
“ Q: The Medical Association of Georgia recently released a report on the positive impact of private practice on the general economy. Tell us about that report.”
“A: We wanted to make the argument to state and national legislators that physicians bring something positive to the health and economic tables."
"Access to health care is the primary component. The positive economic activity generated is important as well. Based on our intuitive understanding of the latter, we did an economic study several years ago of Hall County. Based on those results, we decided to do a state-wide study."
“Q: I understand the study focused on private physicians’ offices rather than on hospital employed physicians or on hospitals themselves.”
" A: That’s right. Hospitals have been doing this for some times to determine economic impact. But to my knowledge, this is the first economic impact study of private practice. We wanted to fill in that piece of the puzzle. When you add in the hospital economic impact, it’s much greater.”
“Q: So you concentrated on ambulatory care in private offices. “
“A: Yes, care that is provided outside the hospital. The Bureau of Labor Statistics separates the two kinds of practice activities inside and outside of hospitals. The Department of Labor uses these statistics to track economic impact. “
“Q: Eighty to ninety percent of ambulatory care is provided by private physicians outside the purview of hospitals. What did you find from the study? Did the economic impact surprise you?”
"A: We found there was a substantial impact of private practice. It was higher than we expected. What was enlightening was to compare it with other sectors of the economy. We found there was a $20 billion impact on the State of Georgia, and every single physician directly or indirectly generated 12 to 13 additional jobs. We found the private physician impact was roughly equivalent to the insurance and financial industries combined and to one-half the construction sector, which is huge in Georgia, a fast growing state."