Are Dems abandoning healthcare?

By Guest Contributor
September 14, 2010

OBAMA-HEALTHCARE

By Jane Orient. The opinions expressed are her own.

One of the Obama Administration’s greatest legislative triumphs is already turning sour.

Before passage, Democrats were urged to vote for ObamaCare as a smart political move. In time, they thought, people would come to love the new benefits. “Good policy is good politics,” Obama said.

But “Healthcare reform” passed with zero Republican support and bipartisan opposition. And with midterm elections on the horizon, Democrats who voted “no” are posing as heroes.

Now that we can see what is in the bill – we had to wait until it was passed — people are very unhappy. One of its key backers, Families USA, issued a new message: “The bill isn’t perfect, but we’ll improve it.”

Nor are any of the left-wing groups that pushed for the passage of the bill doting on their healthcare baby. Its godfather, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), isn’t bragging about his authorship of “historic” legislation. He says he didn’t even “waste time” reading it, but relied on “experts.”

So why are Democrats trying to disown their ugly baby? Because they know they cannot keep their extravagant claims of reducing medical costs and the federal deficit.

At our Pima county medical society in Tucson, Arizona, there’s no applause for the American Medical Association’s endorsement of the bill. Instead, there’s a mood of resignation. The society’s leaders say that small medical practices won’t be able to afford the crushing new compliance requirements such as audits of billing practices.

For doctors who don’t want to close their doors or seek employment with a big group, they now have an added cost of paying an outsourced business entity to study the new rules, collect the right documentation, and file the necessary reports.

Patients have no cause to celebrate either. Sure, more people will be covered — by Medicaid. And by unemployment benefits. The cost of pricey “minimum essential coverage” or the penalties for not providing it — which could be as much as $3,000 per worker, depending on complex calculations — are job killers.

More onerous requirements kick in at thresholds of the 51st, 101st, or 201st employee. As businesses approach these levels, they may cancel plans for new hires, or simply pass out pink slips. This is the last kind of news we want to hear during a recession.

Small businesses may have been excited about the 35% tax credits touted on a postcard sent at taxpayer expense. But if they did the math or used the National Federation for Independent Business internet calculator, they would have figured out that they probably don’t qualify for it.

States might be glad, too, that they got the “Cornhusker Kickback” — the federal government will foot the bill for the swollen Medicaid rolls until 2016—which was reportedly used to buy Nebraskan Senator Ben Nelson’s vote, but then expanded to all states because of the public outrage.

Meanwhile, states will lose the premium taxes on people crowded out of private plans and onto Medicaid — taxes that now fund up to one-third of that program. Yes, part of the premium you pay for private insurance is a tax paid to the state, rather like a sales tax. In some states it is an important source of revenue they cannot afford to lose. States will also have new demands on already strained or broken budgets, such as the requirement to monitor insurance premium increases or to set up insurance exchanges.

In reading the 906 pages of statutory language, in order to write an article entitled “ObamaCare: What’s in It?” for the fall 2010 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, I read a lot about the various features of the bill — taxes, regulations, punishments, favors to special-interest groups, social engineering – but nothing about patient protections and nothing that makes care more affordable. The costs of the bill are simply shifted to other people or taxpayers.

Features of the bill that most Americans loathe include billions of new tax reporting forms (including 1099s for the sandwich shop), more crowded emergency rooms, fewer available doctors, loss of medical privacy, more marriage penalties, and lots of new taxes — either because you are defined as “rich” or because you are paying the taxes that “rich” businesses such as medical device manufacturers pass along to you.

Although there are certain things in the bill that some people will like: federally funded abortions, national servitude for doctors, thousands of new jobs for IRS agents and bureaucrats, millions of unwilling new customers for managed-care schemes, federally certified computer systems, and grants for developers of medical cookbooks, ineffective smoking cessation aids, or politically correct “counseling” or “education” programs.

If ever an abortion of a misbegotten monster was warranted, to save the life of our country, this healthcare baby would qualify. It’s been conceived and implanted, but it has a lot of growing to do before it matures around 2014 — in the course of which it will suck the economy dry while displacing the professionals and institutions devoted to caring for the sick.

We need to starve it of funding, disown it, repeal it, enjoin it, and nullify it on the state and individual level. The ideas and their purveyors need to be expelled from the halls of Congress and the palaces of the executive branch, and the society that harbored them needs to be immunized by this experience against future schemes for a government takeover of medicine.

Not everybody, though, is rolling over and planning to be a pawn in the massive new bureaucracy. By now, most people have heard of “repeal and replace” in regard to the new law, and now there’s a third R – resist, writes John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute. If we are fortunate, the resistance will restore the patient-physician relationship and remove the third-party dominance that brought us to this disaster. Otherwise, we’ll continue down the path of destroying private medicine in America.

Dr. Orient, executive director of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, is the author of “Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis” and “YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Health Care.” She is also a clinical lecturer in medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

17 comments

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Lovely and predictable tirade. All would have been simplified by a buy-in to medicare option. Certainly, Dr. Jane must realize that the largest CEO bonuses paid in the history of mankind were paid to the CEO’s of health insurance entities. A $1,000,000,000 bonus for a year’s work?!?!?!?!? This is the bill that special interests built. Thank Senator Lieberman for opposing the medicare-buy in. The policy for my small business has increased 32% each of the last two years, and there is nothing, nothing at all to keep costs down for my business. I fired all excess employees and only contract labor as needed now. Again, all would have been remedied by a single-payer option or medicare buy-in. But I bet Dr. Jane opposed that as well.

Posted by bgoldmund | Report as abusive

yahknow; we had to do something with an out of control healthcare system. All you doctors and high rollers have forgotten about your fellow man, who can’t afford the insurance because you have priced yourself out of the market. All the new clinics, specialized tests, and fancy drugs are like a Ferrari. We think the car is neator, but we can’t afford the insurance, the maintenance, or the first cost. Time to start building a Chevrolet system or maybe a Subaru system that we can afford.

Posted by fred5407 | Report as abusive

Amazing – what a bit of accounting and compliance reform requirement will do to folks got used to tapping unconditionally into patient wallets as a birth right.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Healthcare deserves more that just emotion, consider the fact that $626 million was spent in 2007 alone to cover test to prevent lawsuits. Because All Congress is deeply indebted to “Trial Lawyers” this segment never gets discussed. If more folks would try to use pragmatisim to create a solution as opposed to keeping the “Litigation Lottery” mentality of making someone pay. Let’s look at all the costs associated and make some intelligent decisions for a change.

Posted by JFK77 | Report as abusive

Here’s a personal view on the health care issue. My son was diagnosis with a medical condition that requires medical supplies for home use. My private insurance (1200 a month in premiums for a small business) was paying for the supplies, until it hit their annual max. Page 350 of 600 on the contract!!! Now my son no longer gets the medical supplies. I called the insurance company and was told that this will change next January once the Obama plan kicks in. No more limits on medical supplies!!!!
How has the insurance industry been able to getaway with this for so long? It’s a shame people don’t realize what the Obama plan does. I wish it could start now!!

Posted by none123 | Report as abusive

People forget that Government programs always stink, and that if our Government lawmakers had been doing their job for the last few decades they would have ebbed the abuses and rising costs proactively. Unfortunately being reactive triggers more emotion and wins more votes. At our expense of course.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

Even Castro is laying off 5000 government employees. As with the Soviet Union, Greece, England, and Communist China, Cuba must now face the facts that a market economy serves it’s citizens better than a socialist economy. Why can’t our leaders understand this? Socialism simply destroys it citizens.

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

Time for a dictator, or at least a president who is allowed to act like one. And where are the physicians in all of this. Isn’t it their profession?

Posted by 123456951 | Report as abusive

I’m glad people support a bill.. that they didn’t read.

Posted by RailBended | Report as abusive

Socialized Healthcare has benefited Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, England………..

Posted by WeNotMe | Report as abusive

@railbended. Right on! And worse still are the people who voted for the bill because of party pressure, and passed it without ever having read the legislation.

Posted by broketaxpayer | Report as abusive

This bill demonstrated only one thing: that Obama and every member of Congress are the world’s biggest whores.

Posted by cautious123 | Report as abusive

It’s sad that socialism has become such a buzzword for anger in this country. We have a successfully socialized police force and fire department in this country (and anyone who has read about the time when that wasn’t the case is aware of how badly needed government intervention was). Socialism isn’t bad. Just like “Death Panels”, it’s just a sound bite for people to repeat so they can justify their hatred.

Posted by TrueIronPatriot | Report as abusive

You should become an advisor for the lost Obama administration. I don’t understand how such a poor written bill can be passed though congress, oh wait, since Democrats hold the majority it is believable. And you people who sit here and write that Dr. Orient is a high roller, why don’t you re-read the part about the smaller healthcare providers and what this bill is going to do to them. Smaller practices are already suffering with increased regulation and fees from this bill. It will put the small time practitioners out of business and reduce the salary of doctors to a level where re-paying the loans they had to take out will become impossible. Obama should focus on creating jobs so people can pay for healthcare on their own. Stop looking for government handouts and work to create a better future for yourself and for this nation we are so blessed to live in.

Posted by aheib9876 | Report as abusive

One thing missing from the comments lamenting the prices of the health care system before this Bill, is that health care already was a highly regulated, government-sponsored monopoly. If you don’t believe prices go up when you have a monopoly, you didn’t play the game as a child, or study business very closely. It’s good the voters are getting energized.

Posted by optimism | Report as abusive

We are one of the few countries where people become doctors to get rich. Our doctors cost too much, our hospitals cost too much and our prescription drugs cost too much. Then there is the huge layer of profits by the health care companies. Our system was broken. Obviously you wrote this for your own and their benefit. Would you rather have done nothing with our out of control health care?

Posted by dennisaa | Report as abusive

BGC said: “Health care is not a privilege, it is a birth right.”

What manifesto did you just crawl out of? The rationalization that convinced you of this absurdity must be truly astounding.

The socialization of health care is indicative of old states which have fallen out of economic prowess and relegated their ambition to the construction of social support over the pursuit of advancement and achievement. It’s a sign of the loss of economic willpower, not a benefit of such.

Posted by derSherpa | Report as abusive