ObamaCare’s Attack on the Elderly

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


elderly-audience

In October of 2012, the Daily Mail exposed the highly disturbing realities of the Liverpool Pathway (LCP), the series of guidelines for treating terminally ill patients developed for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). The most egregious of those realities concerned cash incentives paid to hospitals to ensure a certain percentage of hospital patients would be put on the regime. As healthcare expert Besty McCaughey reveals, a similar horror show is occurring on this side of the Atlantic, courtesy of ObamaCare. Beginning the the same time the LCP scandal was being exposed, the Obama administration began awarding hospitals bonus points for spending the least amount of money on elderly patients. Even worse, the idea was sold to the elderly as a good thing during the 2012 presidential election campaign.

During that campaign, Obama promised seniors that $716 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade, used to fund the $1.9 trillion in new healthcare spending that expanded Medicaid and created the healthcare exchanges, wouldn’t affect them. When Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran an ad attacking the cuts, Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith called it hypocritical. “The savings his ad attacks do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit,” she declared.

Much like everything else this administration contends, the devil is in the very deceiving details. While it’s technically true the cuts didn’t change the Medicare insurance benefits for those receiving them, $416 billion of that $716 billion in cuts were realized in “updates to fee-for-service payment rates.” That was a euphemism used to obscure the reality that hospitals, doctors, hospice care, home care, and Advantage plans paid to care for seniors would be getting reduced payments.

Elderly Americans were supposed to believe those reduced payments would have no negative consequences whatsoever regarding the quality and/or availability of their healthcare.

This is utter nonsense, and there is data to prove it. As McCaughey further notes, research sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and RAND examined over two million elderly patients treated at 208 California hospitals from 1999 to 2008. Published in 2011, the research revealed that elderly patients treated in lower-spending hospitals received less care and had lower survival rates than those treated at higher-spending hospitals.

The numbers are stark. According to the data, 13,613 seniors with pneumonia, stroke, heart attacks and other common conditions who died at low-spending hospitals would have survived — and returned home — had they received treatment at higher-spending institutions. Those totals represent only the state of California, which contains about 10 percent of the Medicare population.

Similar cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals made in 1997 produced similar results. Over the course of four years, $40 billion was cut out of the Medicare program. As a result, one-third of America’s hospitals went from being profitable to losing money. Seniors treated for heart attacks at hospitals absorbing the largest cuts had a 6-8 percent greater chance of dying than those treated at other hospitals. Despite claims by ObamaCare defenders that reduced payments to hospitals eliminates “fraud, waste, and abuse,” researchers concluded that hospitals actually reduced something else, namely nursing care, to cope with the shortfalls.

In 2011 testimony given to Congress, Richard Foster, Chief Actuary of Medicare and Medicaid Services for the Obama administration, revealed that the cuts to hospitals engendered by ObamaCare, which amount to $247 billion over ten years, could force as many as 40 percent of them to operate at a loss, and that as many as 15 percent could stop accepting Medicare altogether, even though the program is their largest source of revenue.

Foster also revealed something far more ominous. Because Medicare will eventually pay doctors less than they’re getting for the already low-paying Medicaid, and only about one-third of what they get paid for treating someone with private insurance, seniors will have even more trouble finding hospitals and doctors willing to treat them. As disquieting as that reality is, it will be exacerbated: ObamaCare bars doctors from providing their patients with necessary care for an extra fee. Many will simply fall through the cracks on the road to “better care for everyone,” even as individual seniors bear the painful — or deadly — brunt of this leftist utopian fantasy.

And such cuts will affect far more than critical care. Quality of life procedures, such as knee and hip replacements, angioplasty, bypass surgery and cataract operations will also be pared back. Thus, seniors who have grown accustomed to the active lifestyles made possible by medical advancements may have to lower their expectations.

In 2009, President Obama admitted as much at a White House “town hall” meeting to promote the healthcare bill. A woman named Jane Sturm spoke about her nearly 105-year-old mother, initially denied a pacemaker five years earlier by one doctor, due to her age. Sturm explained that another doctor, who saw the elderly woman’s “joy of life,” gave her the procedure.

She asked the president to address that reality. “Outside the medical criteria,” Sturm asked Obama, “is there a consideration that can be given for a certain spirit … and quality of life?” Obama responded by talking about the waste that exists in the system “that’s not making anybody’s mom better” including “loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence show is not going to improve care” before coming to the conclusion that “maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking a painkiller.”

Aside from the callousness of the president’s observation, it should be noted that loading up on additional tests or drugs is more familiarly known as practicing “defensive medicine,” a reality exacerbated by potential litigation. Because trial lawyers are some of the Democratic Party’s main campaign supporters, it is no accident that the massive healthcare bill enacted solely by that party didn’t contain a single word about tort reform.

Furthermore, Obama is wrong. Currently Medicare pays hospitals an average of 91 cents on the dollar for the costs associated with caring for seniors. That’s a loss, not a profit. And peer-reviewed scientific research reveals that seniors who receive quality of life surgeries, such as a knee replacement to alleviate the pain associated with severe osteoarthritis, have a 50 percent higher chance of being alive five years after the operation than seniors who merely endure the condition. Thus in many cases seniors, are better off having the surgery.

Unfortunately, much like the “tick box” treatment British seniors received until it was condemned as a “national disgrace,” individual care matters less than the “greater good” of containing costs. Thus, in addition to across-the-board cuts, hospitals will be forced to cope with an ObamaCare regulation called “Medicare spending per beneficiary.” Bonus points will be awarded to those institutions that spend the least on seniors, while those that don’t get demerits. Those spending calculations include up to 30 days of post-discharge treatments, such as physical therapy following surgery for a joint replacement.

In Britain, the LCP is being axed in favor of personal healthcare plans to address end-of-life issues. It is being done because the British government recognized the inevitable cruelty that occurs when treating the aged becomes little more than a numbers game. Yet in America, we are moving in precisely the opposite direction, one bonus point or demerit, after another. For shame.

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  • truebearing

    This is yet another example of how the Left solves problems. Too many seniors costing too much money…let them die by denying care. It is the Left’s standard procrustean method. Death seems to always be the Left’s solution to problematic populations.
    Sure, tort reform alone would have solved most of the rising health care costs, before Obamacare was inflicted on the nation, but tort reform would have taken power away from the Left, whereas Obamacare increases it dramatically. The Left was fully aware that included in the real costs of Obamacare were millions of lives, but those people are old and more likely to be conservatives anyway. This is the Left’s subtle new way to incorporate negative eugenics into their schemes. It beats being blamed for starving 11,000,000 people to death in the Ukraine. They can hide behind affordability with Obamacare, and it satisfies their malthusian population reduction goals.

    • defcon 4

      Wow, what an analysis. A senior I know, has had it revealed to him that he will be dropped from his medical conglomerate because they will no longer be accepting his HMO (which is partly funded by medicaid).

      • truebearing

        Thanks.

        This euthanasia by denial really infuriates me. Sarah Palin was ridiculed relentlessly for saying there were death panels, but now she is vindicated. The Left is at its old game of killing off as many people as it can. They need the same agenda applied to them.

    • Attila_the_hun

      The left never solves problems, it creates them. Every solution they come up with is only for their own empowerment and self enrichment..
      The rich may be a selfish a SOB, but the lefty collectivist is mass murderer evil. Remember Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the poster boys of justice , humanity. and fairness

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    The stats hide the most important point: you have no choice. Here’s the crucial sentence in Ahlert’s article: “ObamaCare bars doctors from providing their patients with necessary care for an extra fee.”

    Freedom doesn’t guarantee your welfare but it allow you to martial your resources, work hard, and achieve what is needed to pursue your goals in life. When you are denied liberty you are denied life. You can no longer set out to solve the problem of earning what is necessary to achieve your goals and maintain your life.

    What Obama is saying is that he doesn’t care what you’ve earned by hard work in your lifetime. Your money is worthless; it can’t be used to pay for medical care to sustain your life. And living isn’t just having a pulse. It’s flourishing–quality is inseparable from life itself.

    The state has no right to bar you from spending your wealth on medical procedures regardless of how necessary anyone believes it is. It’s your life.

    • defcon 4

      Maybe it’s time for a mass secession from a corrupt federal government.

    • lissmth

      If you are on Medicare, you can pay for your own if you find a physician who doesn’t participate in Medicare.

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

        I’m not on Medicare yet. My primary care doctor never took insurance so I do pay out-of-pocket. Most insurance plans reimbursed me for 1/3 of the cost and I accept the responsibility to pay for the rest. All the Obamacare plans in my state don’t allow for any reimbursement of out-of-network. I found a plan that does (Aetna) … for now.

        I fear it is only a matter of time before all doctors come under government contractual and legal rules that ban them from providing treatment deemed “unnecessary” by the government. Stopping some doctors from providing extra care for a fee is a step in that direction.

  • chuckie2u

    One has to understand the highest cost to Medicare is in the population of ederly females over 80. Many of those elderly would die natural deaths sooner rather than later by cutting back prolonged medical care. The objective in cutting cost is to allow nature to run its shorter course to solve the problem. One can expect the money saved in Medicare services will be used to increase the services available to our Political elites, Federal Employees and everyone else exempt from Medicare.

    • defcon 4

      SO it’s Logan’s Run, but with a higher age limit.

      • Biff_Maliboo

        Mildred’s Run.

    • Carlos Danger

      Yep. That’s the plan.

  • Henry Lazarus

    Insurance companies are looking at the cuts in medicare payments and demanding cuts in their costs too. When you add in the cut in monies to hospitals to cover unpaid bills, you’re looking at a hospital disaster in the works

  • defcon 4

    In the bottom line morality of the new left what’s the point in medical research? It’s far better to die and reduce the surplus population — especially if you’re not on board w/their new, glorious, islamic future. Just as an aside, I haven’t heard anything from the zero indicating his allegiance/regard for Communism, but I have heard his praise/regard for the fascist theology known as islam, on at least two occasions.

    • 11bravo

      “It’s far better to die and reduce the surplus population”.
      BINGO! This is the real goal of the true believers. The idiot talking heads on TV don’t even get this about their own ideology and its leaders.
      Barry – Harry – and Nancy get it though. The Emanuel bros. Too!

  • http://www.elliottsamazing.com/ Elliott Hirsh

    The vet said not to worry She’s available 24/7 if I need her.

    • MarilynA

      Last time I took my cat to a vet the cost was higher than for treating a human in the most expensive hospital.

      • librarygryffon

        That’s because the vet bill isn’t mostly covered by insurance, and you actually see the entire bill. If you saw the true bill for a comparable human procedure, trust me, it’s *much* higher. I had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2012 and there was a mix up and the insurance company wasn’t billed by the surgeon before I was sent my bill. I was being charged $5000 by the surgeon (and the practice accepted around $2K from insurance to consider it completely paid). My cat had a double (or maybe it was a triple) mastectomy for breast cancer less than a year later, a surgery which took as much if not more of the surgeon’s time, and the total surgeon’s bill was under $300. The total bill including all tests and other personnel and supplies was under $1500. Admittedly the vet isn’t worried about making it look pretty or reconstructive surgery, but even if a human surgeon didn’t have those concerns, I don’t think you’ll get out of the hospital without you and/or your insurance paying many times that.

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Time to eat your peas, grandma.

  • 11bravo

    I hope I die before I get OLD!!
    Wait… Too Late!

  • Lanna

    The Elderly aren’t values, they want the elderly to bow out gracefully by taking a pill..The government will guide you into the End of your Life.

  • Lanna

    Where are the posts?

  • cecil91

    No group is better at using semantics to hide the truth than is the Left. If the truth contains an iota of negative reflection on the Left, the spin begins. An increase in costs is an “update in fee schedules.” High rates of death in bad hospitals turns out to be “a notable decrease in suffering and its attendant expenditures.”
    The lies and distortions never stop and continue ad infinitum. The Left is the only group in the history of mankind that can pick up a terd by its clean end.

  • cecil91

    No group is better at using semantics to hide the truth than is the Left. If the truth contains an iota of negative reflection on the Left, the spin begins. An increase in costs is an “update in fee schedules.” High rates of death in bad hospitals turns out to be “a notable decrease in suffering and its attendant expenditures.”
    The lies and distortions never stop and continue ad infinitum. The Left is the only group in the history of mankind that can pick up a terd by its clean end.

  • UCSPanther

    Makes me wonder if laws that prohibit medical care to the elderly in the shades of the Ceasescu regime are not far behind…

  • Sniper’s Blade – S.L. R .

    Progressives say health care is ours right. If so this would be a human rights violation of the Genocide kind.

  • Softly Bob

    Old people have to go for another reason – they remember better times and therefore know too much. Only the young are worth looking after because their malleable minds can be twisted more easily.
    Joseph Stalin, you were born too soon. You could have learned a thing or two from the current White House!

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Thanks Arnold. Your humanity and enlightenment continue to shine through. As an aging individual, I see the handwriting on the wall, and have made my peace with God and man.

  • AnotherVoice

    I’ve been advised to prepare to fund my own healthcare and to find a doctor that doesn’t take Medicare.

  • Myrtle Linder

    The blacks in my neighborhood thinks Obamascare came straight from heaven and their God Obama.I hope to be able to get some of this stuff to some of them.

    • curmudgeon

      Free stuff paid for by other people’s money who actually did something to earn it?

  • defcon 4

    May I suggest a new entry for the greatest lies known to mankind? We’re here from Obamacare, we’re here to help you.

  • Terri Brown

    Let’s just hope and pray that Obamacare can be reversed after the 2016 elections and that too much damage is done in the mean time. Regardless of what kind of health insurance we have, we need reform. Rx companies are making billions selling Rx that are more harmful than helpful, and that is one of the biggest problems as well as the lie that we need vaccinations. The majority of Rx that people get and are told that it is absolutely necessary, has more side effects than help, and there are more natural solutions out there. And – if people would eat organic (without pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms), and cut out junk food, they would need less medical to begin with, and we would not need any medical care. And if we are saved, born again believers, we should take care of our bodies, as they are the temple of the Holy Spirit – we will not live longer, as God gives us our years, but we will feel better and be able to serve God all our years and avoid cutting years off our lives. Remember that doctors with the AMA have almost NO training in health or preventive medicine. It would be nice to think of prevention rather than the cure, and it will become even more important with the cure more difficult to come by with the obamacare. I have not been sick in many years and do not have health insurance.

    • MarilynA

      You are so right. The FDA is in the business of selling permits to produce and sell any and everything. Old tried and true drugs that people used to use to treat them selves have been taken off the market so these durg companies can sell their new overpriced drugs that have side effects that are worse than the diseases they are used to cure.

    • laura r

      i was sick for yrs w/ chronic infections. a really good dr come along & got it right. put me on vitamin & mineral supplements, went over my diet w/me. though i ate very well prior, i had ruined my immune system w/ excessive anti biotics. needed more zinc, b12, C, folic acid. after 3 month of the supplemenents, plus the added red meat & egg- my health was restored. he took a few blood tests did a full history. he was educated in the US, but practices in mexico. he also knew about enviremental factors etc. this approach is unheard of in both countries. he now has a nuitritionalist on staff for diabetics, heart patients etc.

      • GaltFan

        Almost unheard of. Glad you found it. I was when I did. Spread the word…

  • remmy

    They want to kill off all the old white people.

  • vladimirval

    This is the biggest Obama lie ever. Not being able to keep your doctor, your insurance policy, or go to the hospital of your choice is terrible but not allowed to get the care needed to keep you alive is MURDER! Murder being committed by Obama, Pelosi, Reed, and the rest of the Democrat gang. Obamacare (AKA ACA) can not be fixed, it must be repealed. The only way we can get that done is to change to makeup of Congress. We must get a majority in the Senate and maintain our advantage in the House. We need to achieve a veto proof Congress. We have the solution to terminate Obama’s influence on our Republic. All that is left is just to do it!

    • onecornpone

      Kneecap Karl Rove!

      • vladimirval

        Why and what would that solve?

  • onecornpone

    Tsk, tsk…………. natural selection!

    What good did it do mankind to fight his way to the top of the food chain?

    • veeper

      the human animal is the most dangerous and vicious animal on the planet….

      • onecornpone

        There WILL be “black markets” develop for healthcare procedures needed – paid for in cash.

        I predict there will be physicians who will take great risk to treat people who can pay, and find ways to see that they get followup care as needed.

        All this will happen in the shadows, as our great University Medical Centers starve on oCare.

  • veeper

    obama hates older people as much as he hates white people. he sees no use for them. most don’t have anything left for government to take……so they are of no value.

    obama would do with the elderly as hitler did with Jews if he could get away with it…..

    • laura r

      his mother in law too? or only white folks?

      • veeper

        obama considers older blacks as collateral damage….

        he has no use for older people…..

      • curmudgeon

        Mostly White folks. He wanted more from his White grandparents who raised him.

  • spyeatte

    I want every worthless Representative to justify this outrage. Ask them at town-hall meetings. Throw every rat out that rationalizes the action. If they think it is fine to withhold treatment that can improve and extend life, perhaps the only thing that will get their attention is reciprocal blow-back.

    • curmudgeon

      They will be running like cockroaches when the light is turned on. They keep making promises and never fulfilling them and the low information voter keeps voting for them because they promise the most free stuff for the least effort.

  • Myrtle Linder

    Muslims, allies of Christians?? The only way would be if we trash our GOD and HIS SON and bow ti their false god! NO! They will never be allies of an Christians.

  • Gregg Weber

    Send the elderly home with Carrousel. That the message?