Affordable Healthcare Act

“Affordable” Healthcare Act

FROM THE COUNTY CHAIRMAN’S DESK

Walter D. (Wally) Wilkerson, Jr., MD

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman

July 2010

A fancy, multi-color brochure recently arrived at my residence from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Its headline on the front page read “Medicare and the New Health Care Plan- What It Means for You”. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius’s message to millions of senior citizens was: “The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care. It will also ensure accountability throughout the health care system so that you, your family, and your doctor- not insurance companies- have greater control over your care.” She then proceeded to extol all the virtues of the government’s takeover of the country’s health care system. The brochure that was mailed to 40 million Medicare recipients at a cost of $18 million dollars has photos of smiling, happy seniors.

While Obamacare will impact everyone, seniors will be among the hardest hit. When they learn of the April 22nd analysis of the bill by Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, they are not going to be happy and they will not be smiling. Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Richard Foster blasted to smithereens many of Mr. Obama’s claims for the bill…Finding it hard to cover costs under the bill’s formulas, according to Foster’s analysis, doctors would refuse new patients and one out of every six hospitals and nursing homes could start operating in the red. And while Medicaid would cover 16 million more people, there might not be enough doctors to treat them.” For the 77 million new retirees in 2011, finding a doctor will be far more difficult and lists to see doctors are likely to be much longer. The American Association of Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 124,000 doctors by 2025.

Rove noted that “because of new taxes, Foster rightly claimed that sick people would face ‘high drug and (medical) device prices’ and everyone would pay higher premiums-again, exactly the opposite of what Mr. Obama said” when promoting the bill. Seniors we know are more heavily dependent on drugs and medical devices. In May, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated its cost projections and found the new health legislation would cost $115 billion more than estimated when it was enacted.

The Heritage Foundation concluded: “Much of the financing (of the health care bill) over the initial 10 years is siphoned off from an estimated $575 billion in projected savings to the Medicare program. Unless Medicare savings are captured and plowed right back into the Medicare program, however, the solvency of the Medicare program will continue to weaken. The law does not provide for that. If Congress is going to reduce Medicare and impose a hard cap on Medicare payment to restrain per capita cost growth, at the very least it ought to channel those savings right back into the program to enhance Medicare’s solvency and lay the fiscal foundation for real reform.”

“October will see the first round of Medicare cuts. Up to half of seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage coverage (a program that allows seniors to receive additional services through a private health plan) or at least some of their benefits under this program. Watch for the administration to try to keep companies from notifying their customers of benefit cuts or premium increases before the election”, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

That’s not all the bad news. President Obama has appointed Dr. Donald Berwick of the Harvard Medical College to be the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal agency that runs these two health care programs with a budget bigger than the Pentagon. Columnist Terence Jeffrey in a commentary on May 26th wrote: “To Berwick, America’s health care system is not the model for the world. Great Britain’s is. In his view, it is vital for the Brits to hold high the flame of socialized medicine so the world can follow its lead.” In the July 2008 edition of the British Medical Journal, Berwick wrote: “I am a romantic about the National Health Service. I love it.” This love apparently extends to health care rationing and use of the health care system to redistribute the wealth.

Berwick recommends: “You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to keep affordability within reach. You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.” He extended compliments to the British National Health Service when he said: “You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer, that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any health care funding plan that is just must redistribute the wealth.” He also warned: “Please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.” All of this academic lecturing means the he knows what is best for you and not you and your physician and that rationing of care is a certainty.

The appointment of Berwick requires Senate approval but President Obama avoided a Senate hearing by making a recess appointment. While recess appointments are not uncommon, it is highly questionable move without even scheduling a Senate hearing before using this procedure. Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee surprised by this action: “Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power.”

So under Obamacare, appointed bureaucrats and elitists physicians will play Robin Hood in white lab coats. Republicans believe Obamacare should be repealed or drastically amended in order to pass a health care plan that lowers the costs, provides freedom of choice and uses free market principles as a part of the plan.