Health and Science

Doctors only for big problems: Obamacare architect

Ex-Obama advisor: Shift doctors to high-end cases

With Obamacare broadening the number of insured Americans, physician assistants and registered nurses will play a greater role in treating routine illnesses, giving doctors more time to focus on "really important cases," said one of the architects of the president's health-care law.

"We're going to shift what doctors do to the high end, where they are really valuable," explained Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., former special advisor on health policy to President Barack Obama and author of the new book "Reinventing American Health Care."

Predicting what the health care of the future might look like, he said, "You're going to free up doctors of paperwork and a lot of stuff that could be done by other people to focus on really important cases and the complex ones that don't fit right in the box."

On Obamacare, he downplayed Wednesday's announcement from the White House of another extension for holders of noncompliant Obamacare plans. They can now keep their plans through October 2017 if their states allow it.

(Read more: Non-Obamacare plans get 2-year grace period)

"It's a minor part of transforming health care," said Emanuel, vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania and brother of former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel—now mayor of Chicago. "It really affects, according to the Rand think tank, less than 500,000 in America."

With the initially troubled federal Obamacare website running more smoothly now, problems with state-run health exchanges around the country will be the subject of an audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

(Read more: US agency to probe health exchanges)

In his new book—as he's been in past interviews—Emanuel was highly critical of the botched rollout of the health marketplaces.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.