More doctors' offices can't afford Affordable Care Act, forcing them to close

News 12 at 11 / Friday, May 30, 2014

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- More than 5,000 patients will have to find a new doctor now that a North Augusta man is closing his practice, and it's not because he wants to. He's part of a growing number of doctors who say they simply can't afford the Affordable Care Act.

After 23 years, Dr. Jeffrey Broder is saying goodbye.

"It's the end of a long time being here," Broder says as he pushes back tears.

Inside the door of North Augusta Urgent care now sits an empty waiting room that acted more like a living room over the years as dr. Broder treats the patients he's come to know like family. Today he got to do that one last time.

News 12's cameras were rolling as he hugged his last patient of the day and of his 23 year practice.

"We gotta find a new doctor now," admits Robert Gray.

It's not the ending Broder was looking for, but he says it's an inevitable one for a practice of his size now that we have the Affordable Care Act.

"Now it's to the point where you've got to see 50-60 patients a day to make things work," Broder said.

Besides increased wait times, Broder says instead of simple tasks he could have handled in a day, like referring someone to a specialist, now he has to go through an approval process for medicine and scans, which could take weeks or even months. It has doctors like him flocking to bigger groups like hospitals that have more people and more power to negotiate with insurance companies.

"Many of my fellow practitioners have gone ahead and closed their practices. The only way to survive in the way we are right now is in a larger group type situation," he said.

Many doctors are looking to join larger entities that can absorb the costs of certain mandates, like converting all the files to electronic health records, something that would be a major cost for an office like Broder's.

As healthcare changes, along with putting many private practices out of business, Broder says it affects you, the patient, most of all.

"The ability of the patient to get the care that they need is going to be a lot tougher than they've ever seen before," he said. "I think were putting too much emphasis on the business of medicine and not enough emphasis on the caring of medicine."

Out of Broder's 5,000 patients, about 15 percent have Medicare. It'll be an extra challenge for them since many offices aren't accepting new Medicare patients.

As for Broder, he's still deciding where he'll go next but said a hospital is probably in his future.

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