Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Medical Oath Forced Me to Oppose Obamacare.

My Medical Oath Forced Me to Oppose Obamacare.
Milton Wolf, M.D.
From the book “First Do No Harm.”

I’m proud to call Barack Obama my cousin, and I hold no personal animosity toward him.

Our visions for America are simply at odds.

He apparently believes that our greatness lies in our growing welfare state, and he seeks to expand its power to provide what he calls social and economic justice to more and more Americans.

I believe our greatness is found in our freedom to make our own lives and serve each other. As a patriotic American, my loyalty is to freedom; and as a physician, I have taken an oath to care for my patients. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose to stand up and try to prevent them from transforming America into a second-class, European-style social welfare state.

To grasp how fundamentally flawed Obamacare is, right down to its very core, it’s important to understand the unmistakable pattern of failure our government has demonstrated each time it has interfered with your healthcare, always under the guise of protecting you.

In short, with every new regulation come increased compliance costs that are unavoidably passed on to the patient. As those costs increase, more patients are priced out of the system.

Primum non nocere. “First, do no harm.” This bedrock principle of medicine is lost on most big-government politicians. They live in a fantasy world that confuses intentions with results.

In medicine, like most areas of life other than politics, there is no such thing as good or bad intentions; there are only results. Either you serve a patient or you do not. Despite the fact that our Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to interfere with healthcare, Congress has a long history of forcing itself between you and your doctor. This is a cautionary tale of increased costs, rationed care, stifled innovation, and sweetheart deals for political friends. America has the finest healthcare system in the world, but this is more often despite our government than because of it.

At the very core of Obamacare is a flawed belief that the government can spend your money more effectively tan you can spend it yourself. Obamacare not only mandates that every citizen purchase state-sanctioned insurance; it also increases spending even more, turns health insurance companies into public utilities, eliminates proven free-market reforms, and sets in place the mechanism for healthcare rationing.

Individual Mandates

For the first time in the history of our republic, the federal government has issued a decree that its subjects, on condition of simply having been born, must enter into a legal financial contract with a state-sanctioned company. Not even King George III dared impose his will in such a manner. This individual mandate is the linchpin of Obamacare, designed to raise revenue from young, healthy individuals who might otherwise not purchase insurance or at least not as much insurance. Without their money, Obamacare crumbles quickly under the enormous weight of its promises.

The individual mandate, even if it can survive the courts, cannot survive the laws of economics. You can’t simply mandate people into prosperity. Strangely, Barack Obama himself acknowledged this in 2008, when he was squarely opposed to the mandate, saying, “If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.” Obamacare is obviously a betrayal of his own earlier conviction.

What this means to you: If the individual mandate survives, then your healthcare options are significantly limited. For many young, healthy people, the optimal insurance may be the affordable so-called “mini-med” plans limited to basic coverage only. As Obamacare needs more money, and it will, look for the government to continually increase the required “benefits” of these plans – always announced as good news! – thereby driving up costs and collecting more money as young people are forced to buy more and more services they don’t need.

The IRS is expected to hire about twelve thousand new agents and auditors to force your submission. They obviously expect to do a lot of business. You’ll be paying their salaries, too.

Employer Mandate

The government imposes new mandates for companies with 50 or more employees to provide state-sanctioned insurance. New insurance requirements will cause more than two-thirds of companies – closer to 80 percent for small businesses – to change their plans, according to a Health and Human Services (HHS) internal study. What this means to you: You may lose your job. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf estimates that Obamacare will destroy 800,000 jobs. If you are fortunate enough to keep your job, you still may lose your insurance. The CBO estimates 10 million to 12 million Americans will lose their employer-based insurance because of Obamacare. Obama’s own Medicare chief actuary estimates it could be 20 million.

Pre-existing Conditions and Lifetime Insurance Limitations

Two popular provisions of Obamacare are that insurance companies will be prohibited from denying a policy to anyone because of a pre-existing condition, and prohibited from placing a lifetime limit on benefits. These sound nice, but it would sound nice if Congress passed a law that said rain is no longer permitted to fall on weekends. The “pre-existing condition” clause will incentivize people to game the system by forgoing insurance and waiting to buy a policy until after they’ve acquired an expensive disease, knowing they can’t be turned down. What this means to you: Once again, responsible Americans will pay the bills of those who do not. The lifetime-limit provision will also eliminate those affordable “mini-med” plans that are popular among low-wage workers and the young, thereby forcing millions to pay more for insurance or go into Medicaid.

Government Clinics and Hospitals

Obamacare provides a substantial increase in funding for state-run facilities that squeezes resources away from private practices. Within four years, it’s expected that nearly 40 million patients will be treated at one of these government facilities. If you’ve never been to a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, brace yourself. I’ve trained and worked in both private- and government-sector facilities, and let me just say there’s a reason why veterans who can do so choose to go elsewhere. What this means to you: Welcome to the DMV of healthcare. Take a number and have a seat.

Ending Consumer-Directed Health Plans

Every once in a while the government actually gets something right. Then Obamacare comes along to destroy it. Consumer-directed healthcare reforms include such innovations as health savings accounts (HSA’s), flexible spending accounts (FSA’s), and health reimbursement accounts (HRA’s). The concept is simple: you can spend your own dollars more effectively than the government can spend them for you.

Forty-six million Americans currently participate in these plans. Obamacare puts severe restrictions on consumer-directed health plans and even empowers the secretary of health and human services to eliminate them altogether. What this means to you: With this one bright spot in American healthcare policy curtailed or even eliminated, your costs will go up and your options will be restricted. within Medicare has been targeted. Currently more than 10 million seniors have chosen

Medicare and Medicare Advantage Cuts

As with the war on consumer-directed health plans, a successful program Medicare Advantage, which allows them to purchase private insurance through Medicare. Attracting nearly a quarter of all Medicare enrollees, Medicare Advantage has been successful both in controlling costs and in terms of patient satisfaction. Obamacare recalculates the bidding process for the insurance companies, ensuring that many no longer participate. Medicare’s chief actuary estimates that this will force 7 million seniors out of the popular program. What this means to you: Your shiny new Medicare card may come wrapped in a lot of promises, but it won’t do much good if you can’t find a doctor who will accept it.

The Tax Man Cometh

Candidate Obama made this unambiguous promise: “I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” Unfortunately that promise was forgotten as soon as the teleprompter was shut off. Obamacare unleashes a massive wave of $569 billion in new and increased taxes in the first decade. Payroll taxes. Prescription drug taxes. Insurance taxes. The president taxes everything from tampons to tanning salons; from MRI machines to the sale of your home. What this means to you: When Barack Obama promised that “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime,” he was partly right. You’ll see them increased by thousands of dollars.

Selective Enforcement

Health and Human Services has already granted more than three thousand waivers to the new law. Most of the fortunate recipients have materially supported Obama and Obamacare; 40 percent are unions. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), for example, gave $27 million to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and another $60 million to Democrats overall. What this means to you: You may ask yourself; If Obamacare is really such a great law, why does the White House keep exempting its best friends from it?

To read another article about Obamacare, click here.

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