Will the nation's physicians revolt over the healthcare overhaul?
The knives—and scalpels—are out to cut ObamaCare to ribbons or administer beneficial plastic surgery. Here are developments that can accomplish a coup d’etat or probably bring more rational health care to America.
Even with 87 new Republicans joining the new House of Representatives, a repeal bill has a steep hill to climb. But Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has said it is important to go through the process even if the Senate rejects such a kill or the President vetoes it. The Rasmussen Poll shows “59 percent of the voters favor repealing it. And it’s important to respond to the voters.”
Even in the event of a failure of full repeal, King says conservatives have another strategy. They control the purse strings and will shift their focus to defunding the new law through appropriations Congress must pass to finance the federal program. “It is essential that we have a record of lawmakers who vote for repeal and those who do not,” said King.
The incoming chairman of a key health subcommittee, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Ohio), told Human Events Dec. 14 he plans a “piecemeal” effort to repeal the law. After voting for full repeal in the House, realizing this is quite unlikely, “we will then move on repealing select potions” of ObamaCare. He said he will meet in a strategy session with Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) as well as Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who will chair the House Energy Committee. Under Finance is the health subcommittee Pitts will chair.
Pitts said the “first strike” will be to pass last year’s Stupak-Pitts measure, to ban any tax dollars for abortion in the health legislation. Pitts also said high on the assault list is the tax form 1099 regulation. It requires more tax paperwork and documentation of expenses by health providers. Pitts called the regulation “onerous.” He said the plan to repeal it directly is sure to have widespread support—people in the health care industry are wondering, along with reasonable people everywhere, why government needs all this information. He also said he met with several state governors to discuss possible state waivers from health programs to devise more efficient and less expensive ways of dealing with health problems. “Medicaid is the biggest problem, of course. But...I hope we can turn as much as possible over to governors. The governors can provide lots of innovation; so I want to bring them in in a big way,” Pitts added. As to White House opposition: “We’ll just take our time,” Pitts said.
Pro-ObamaCare Democrats won’t sit idly by while Republicans try to defang ObamaCare. A regulation was put in place Jan. 1, for instance, to pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forego aggressive life-sustaining treatment. The provision was dropped from the health bill before it became law because it was so controversial. Now, Dr. Donald Berwick, head of Medicare and Medicaid, an advocate of cost-cutting and rationing, will be in charge. Doctors will be discussing with seniors at annual physicals the choices for ending life at some stage of illness. Anything to cut the cost of lingering illnesses--which in some cases may improve. Then what happens when an advance directive says: “Stop treatment.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV commercials trying to convince the viewing public that nothing but happy days in health care lie ahead.
While total repeal is highly unlikely, even if the Senate should go along, because of Obama’s veto power and strange love of regulations, the Constitutionality of the new law is in question. Federal District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia dealt a critical blow to the law Dec. 13. He ruled that the mandate in the law requiring people to buy health insurance violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and is therefore unconstitutional. Judge Hudson pointed out that there is significant precedent distinguishing genuine activity from inactivity. Only the former is clearly within the scope of the Commerce Clause; the latter is “beyond [its] historic reach,” he stated. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida, in a case brought by 20 state attorneys general in an earlier ruling saying the case could proceed said the Commerce Clause, has “never been applied in such a manner before.” It is “without precedent.”
At least 42 states have either introduced or passed freedom of choice legislation or amendments aimed at protecting their citizens from the odious insurance purchase mandate, according to data kept by the health research organization, the Galen Institute. Instead, they are examining a successful Utah insurance-buying exchange.
The source of health care, of course is doctors. The country’s front line physicians are unhappy. The Physicians Foundation Nov. 18 released a new national survey sent to 100,000 doctors following up on one done in 2008. The new survey found from respondents “strong negative feelings” toward ObamaCare and “fear that patient care will suffer in the months and years ahead.”
"Physicians support reform; in fact, we were the ones leading the fight against status quo,” a release from the Foundation said. “But this new research shows that doctors strongly believe the law is not working...for them or for their patients,” said Lou Goodman, PhD, Foundation president. Key research findings include the following:
Of the physicians responding, 60 percent said ObamaCare will compel them to close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients. Of these, 93 percent said they would be forced to close or significantly reduce their practice to Medicaid patients. (18 million people will be moved into Medicaid, under ObamaCare). Some 87 percent of the doctors said they would be forced to close or restrict their Medicare practice.
Forty percent of the doctors said they would drop out of patient care in the next one to three years, either by retiring or seeking work in a nonclinical job or work not connected to health care.
Sixty-nine percent said they no longer have time to see additional patients, and ObamaCare would cause them to spend more time with patients. And Sixty-seven percent said their reaction to the Act was negative, while 86 percent said the viewpoint of physicians was not adequately represented in the legislation.
So, even if conservative lawmakers can’t get rid of it, few available docs with less time for the ill and a feeling of rejection equals ObamaCare failure.