The claim has become a staple of Republican efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and transform Medicare into a system in which future elderly receive vouchers to purchase health insurance in the private market. "We are starting to see physicians turn away from taking patients who are on Medicare," the GOP.gov website warns, with "more and more physicians are choosing to opt out of Medicare altogether." In July, the Wall Street Journal dutifully picked up that cudgel, cheering one "doctor goes off the grid" while fretting "more doctors steer clear of Medicare."
Unfortunately, there's only one problem with the conservative claim that America's doctors are fleeing Medicare—and Medicare patients—in massive numbers. As a new study from the Department from Health and Human Services reveals, it's simply not true.