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ObamaCare: What’s Really Sending Seniors Off a Cliff

Posted By Tait Trussell On June 8, 2011 @ 12:04 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 27 Comments

Even though a demonic TV commercial depicts a frantic grandma in a wheelchair being dumped off a cliff by a man resembling Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), author of a plan to save the Medicare system, Section 3025 of ObamaCare would suppress readmissions to hospitals, where delay or denial could mean death for millions of grandmas.

Democrats hate the reasonable Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a sound system involving patient choice. (Nearly all the House Republicans voted for it April 15.) The aforementioned commercial, sponsored by the liberal AgendaGroup Project began in May. It characterizes the Ryan plan as privatizing Medicare. The strain of “America the Beautiful” accompanies the scandalous melodrama of grandma’s fate, as conceived by the left-wing fabrication.

Section 3025 of Obama’s mislabled Affordable Care Act calls for financially penalizing hospitals which admit sick Medicare individuals who need to return to the hospital within 30 days after their discharge. The overlord of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Dr. Donald Berwick, was granted a formula to penalize hospitals. He hopes to save $15 billion a year by suppressing hospital readmissions. A 250-bed hospital could lose $1.7 million unless it blocks follow-up hospital treatment for one of three categories of illness — pneumonia, heart attack, and heart failure.

Currently, Medicare pays for all rehospitalizations, except those in which patients are readmitted within 24 hours after discharge for the same conditions.

An important study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), written by a group of doctors, pointedly said “there is very limited research” addressing the issue of “diseases and processes that contribute to rehospitalization.” But analyzing a year in the mid-2000s, for which all Medicare billing statements were available, the authors found a total of 13,062,937 patients enrolled in the Medicare program were discharged from 4,926 hospitals. Some 516,959 of these patients died, and 690,276 went to other acute care settings, leaving 11,855,702 at risk for rehospitalization. That’s a lot of grandmas and grandpas.

The NEJM article quoted another study, which found that among persons 18 to 64 years of age, the rate of rehospitalization was “only weakly related to age.” So, why is Dr. Berwick given to such fascist inclinations with grandma and other Medicare patients? The devilish ObamaCare law makes him do it.

The NEJM physicians wrote: “We were unable to link measures of the number of beds in a community” to the over readmitting of patients or whether “higher rehospitalizaion rates are evidence of better care or just more care…[B]etter care may reduce the number of rehospitalizaions, but we have no data on where these features are provided.” Research, the doctors mentioned, shows that palliative care can reduce rehospitalization. (That should be apparent because palliative care normally is given to those in their final stage of life. It is care for comfort, not cure and normally found in Hospice.)

Variation in readmissions among different states and hospitals “may be possible on a national scale,” the authors of the NEJM study said, but “the data do not show which practices cause the differences or whether the differences are exportable” to other hospitals.

When the typical patient has “two chances of three of being rehospitalized or dying” within a year after discharge “it is probably wiser to consider all Medicare patients as having a high risk of rehospitalization…It would be premature to predict how much [cost] reduction can be achieved,” the study’s authors wrote.

This section of ObamaCare is a direct physical threat to seniors, whose lives apparently are not considered worth the money to pay for their return to the hospital. It also is a killer for hospitals. In Detroit, just as one example, St. Joseph Mercy Health System (hospitals) depends on Medicare for 45 percent of its revenue. In rural communities, the percentage often is even higher.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the power to expand the list of the three selected conditions without limit after 2013.  So, what ObamaCare considers “excessive” hospital care is, in truth, a real and effective way for Democrats to push grandma off the cliff.


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