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Local doctor says Affordable Care Act has already affected private practice
By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- A major part of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect Oct. 1.
It's called the health insurance marketplace -- people and small businesses will be able to go online and buy insurance and coverage starts Jan. 1, 2014.
But many provisions under the law have already taken effect.
"In a way it's already affecting private practice. Especially solo practitioners like myself," said Dr. Andres Enriquez, an El Paso family doctor.
In the past year or so, Enriquez has already been hit with changes.
"Now I'm mandated to have a certain computer system up and running and I'm mandated to do certain things through this computer system, so the cost has already started for me," Enriquez said.
And he said that trickles down to you.
"I'm having to be more detailed with my patients. As far as what information I'm asking of them, so I can satisfy the federal government," Enriquez said.
He said these changes have already led to longer wait times.
"Doctors haven't had a raise since 1997, and we're talking in January having a 30 percent cut in our Medicare reimbursement," Enriquez said.
He said if the government doesn't fix the Medicare sustainable growth rate, the method used to control spending by Medicare, most doctors won't stay in practice.
"The impact of that on private practice is going to be that, I'm probably not going to see Medicare or I'm not going to see Medicaid, or I'm not going to see any federally funded insurance because I can't afford it," Enriquez said.
Enriquez believes positive things will come out of this.
"People need to have insurance, people need to get healthcare, people need to be seen. Especially here on the border, especially here in El Paso," Enriquez said.
But he still has hesitations.
"So we need to make sure that the system is in place and the system works and the system is willing to take care of that individual," Enriquez said.