American Elephants

Obama is Dismantling Medicare by The Elephant's Child

Modern medicine has been a blessing for seniors. Before Medicare, old folks ended up in nursing homes or in wheelchairs with crippling illnesses. Now more seniors are able to get hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and heart procedures to spare them some of the worst parts of aging. And they are living longer. The American Journal of Public Health reported that a man turning 65 can expect to live 5 years longer than he would have in 1970.

The Obama administration has, as usual with the left, included lots of unnecessary goodies in order to get people to sign up with ObamaCare and Medicare. And with Medicare, they carefully eliminated many of the features that controlled costs and encouraged older folks to use it more carefully.  The so-called “donut hole” was designed as an incentive for seniors to use cheaper generic drugs instead of name-brands when they were equivalent.  It worked very successfully. Obama eliminated that.

Medicare has always faced the problem of the sheer numbers of retiring baby boomers, which has meant trouble for Medicare finances. Under the guise of “reform,” President Obama is dooming seniors to disability, needless pain and shortening their lives.

Hillary, economically clueless, is proposing to open Medicare to people in their 50s, so younger, healthier people would be competing with seniors for resources. Brilliant.

Obama, under the pretense of “reform,” is issuing a 962 page of new Medicare regulations. The reforms will make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. New payment rules will shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place — which is already a problem. Hospitals will get bonuses for spending less on each senior patient, despite having higher death and infection rates. Seeing Medicare patients will be a money loser.

Because of new regulations on how doctors treat patients (the feds know better than the doctors) doctors spend time completing reports for the government. They spend their time with the patient glued to a computer screen instead of interacting with patients.

“Doctors who want to provide individualized care” will have to “either opt out of Medicare or simply not comply,” explains Richard Amerling, past president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.

Obama’s rules are “far too complex and burdensome to be workable for most physicians,” warns John Halamka, a Harvard medical professor.

The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of 1 percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.

No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.

Old folks with cancer will be in trouble. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and told to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of what medication is best for the patient. Seniors needing knee and hip replacements likely to need rehab may have to settle for painkillers instead.

The administration claims the rules reward quality instead of quantity, but that’s a lie. Betsy McCaughey says that five of the hospitals who had the worst scores on patient outcomes — who get more infections and die sooner from heart problems and pneumonia than at other hospitals — have all gotten bonuses from Medicare because they are low spenders.

Remember the 2012 campaign when Obama accused Republicans or plotting to “end Medicare as we know it” and a video depicted a Republican pushing Granny’s wheelchair off a cliff?  Nasty and false claims, but now the Democrats are pushing America’s seniors off a cliff indeed.

Obama has made several remarks indicating that medical care is more important  for the young, who have more years ahead of them, than having expense wasted on the old, who could depend on pain killers instead. It would be a lot less offensive if he were not at the same time wanting to insure the votes of young women by promising free contraceptives to all, although they cost so little  few would have a hard time paying.

In a free competitive market, competition brings prices down, and the promise of profit makes people have new ideas, and take the risk to make them work. The Left despises the free market, and wants ever more control. They believe that they have the best ideas and they just need to be put to work. And if they aren’t working, new and more regulation will fix things. It’s a war of Individualism versus Collectivism — or Freedom versus Socialism. Perhaps you have noticed that they are starving in Venezuela and being killed in food riots. And their hospitals have no medicine, no antibiotics and no pain pills either.

Obama Took $716 Billion Out of Medicare! by The Elephant's Child

In the beginning, the imperative for ObamaCare was upwardly spiraling health care costs. And what was it that was spiraling upwardly so fast that it needed immediate attention? It was Medicare. Not the overall cost of medicine.

Ideologically, the Democrats have always wanted single-payer health care. Complete government control. The farther left the Democrat, the more passionately they not only wanted it, but were determined that ObamaCare would become single-payer. Why? Got me. I cannot grasp the far left mind. Is it a matter of control? A matter of faith in governmental ability to do good? I’d be glad to listen to anyone’s analysis, but I cannot understand the thinking.

Ruth Marcus, Liberal columnist, parrots the talking point about turning Medicare into a “voucher program”, and asks rhetorically who do responsible Democrats turn to for answers?  She turns to a list of 23 responsible leading Democrat thinkers: (don’t laugh) like John Podesta, Peter Orszag, Neera Tanden, Donald Berwick, Tom Daschle( former health care lobbyist) and Ezekiel Emanuel (Rham’s brother) who have a solution. You just cap costs.

The most far-reaching proposal is to have states, with the encouragement of federal grants, put in place a mechanism to set overall health cost caps, covering public and private spending….

The argument for caps is that otherwise costs are not lowered, just shifted around in a health care version of hot potato. If Medicare squeezes providers, they charge more to private insurers. If large insurers squeeze providers, they hike costs to smaller insurers.

The federal government should give bonus payments to states that ease laws restricting non-physician providers, such as highly skilled nurses, from providing services. Doctors should be shielded from malpractice suits if they adhere to best-practices guidelines. In other words, the authors do not shrink from ox-goring, and of a rather substantial herd: hospitals, doctors, medical manufacturers, trial lawyers.

These admirable Democrats are all exceedingly enthusiastic admirers of the British National Health Service (NHS), and want to imitate it. Theodore Dalrymple, pen name of Anthony Daniels, British  physician, psychiatrist and author, explains in the LA Times the few admirable characteristics in a truly lousy system.

What you should notice is the almost automatic assumption on the part of Liberals that you control costs by cutting back on payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers. Has nobody noticed that doctors are leaving the profession in droves? In 2010 there were over 40 physicians running for office nationally. You probably know doctors who have quit. I know 4 personally, and I don’t know a lot of doctors. The Doctor Patient Medical Association reports that 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting because of ObamaCare. The DPMA reports that “America will face a shortage of at least 90,000 doctors by 2020.

The whole reason we had to reform health care was because Medicare costs were spiraling out of control, so Obama took $716 billion out of Medicare to lower the official cost of ObamaCare so that it would pass a solidly Democratic Congress

The dirty secret is that ObamaCare simply won’t work. The 90,000 doctor shortage should convince anyone. Why would the best and brightest continue to go into medicine? The tax on medical device makers is already strangling innovation, and sending companies overseas.

Liberals may think that doctors are rich and we pay them too much so we’ll make medicine cost less by capping payments. This whole stupid mindset can be summed up by Sandra Fluke’s demand that taxpayers pay for her contraceptives. It was quickly proven that the medication was available for $9 a month in some pharmacies, but liberals could not get over the idea that was something taxpayers should do for women. Personally, I would far rather have help with the bill for the $90,000 life-saving surgery.

When there is a shortage of doctors, Doctors refuse medical care to the patients where the reimbursement is not enough to cover their expenses. Medicare and Medicaid patients will be unable to find doctors. Obviously, they will go to the emergency room, and costs will rise.

It won’t work.  We have to get rid of it.

Democrats Are Lying to You! So What Else is New? by The Elephant's Child

Why are Democrats so desperately trying to keep the public from understanding that Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid must be reformed? Because the Democrats can claim that they are trying to take care of old people and the Republicans are trying to take away their health-care.  Scaring old people has always worked for them, and they’re not going to let go of the strategy until it decisively fails them.  It is, unfortunately, just that simple.

Democrats, you see, have already reformed Medicare and Medicaid. It’s part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Costs too much?  Simple answer— just pay physicians and hospitals less— way less.  Obama’s advisers on health-care matters: Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter Orzag, Tom Daschle and  Dr. Donald Berwick were all admirers of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).  The Brits liked their free NHS, which began in 1948,   and continued to support Labour, in spite of increasingly long waits, rationing, dirty hospitals, denied care.

Medicaid patients are already in deep trouble and in many locations unable to find any primary care physician who will see them. Government reimbursement is too low and doctors can’t afford it. Medicare is soon to have the same problem, as ObamaCare continually slashes payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers. But more cuts are planned.

Looming over all is a key feature of ObamaCare— The Independent Pay Advisory Board (IPAB). Under the law, the president would appoint 15 ‘experts’ to the board. Starting in 2014, the board would be charged with making sure that Medicare hits specific spending goals. IPAB cannot touch benefits, deductibles or co-payments;            they have to make the budget fit the targets by controlling fees.  Cost controls. De-facto rationing power.

Once the board has made up its mind, the cuts automatically take effect, unless Congress agrees on an alternative package or can get a supermajority to block IPAB’s plan.  IPAB decisions would be immune from administrative or judicial review. The theory is that  if IPAB is isolated from politics, they can ‘more effectively’ manage Medicare costs.

Unaccountable, immune, cannot be questioned, their word is law—you have no recourse. That may sound fine until it is your kidney dialysis being denied, or your cancer treatment.  What all Obama’s advisers liked about NHS is that the greatest costs for seniors’ medical care come in their final years. Rationing and denying on the basis of ‘cost-effectiveness’ is just efficient bookkeeping, you see, until it’s your body or that of your loved ones who are denied—and you can’t even sue or protest.

Paul Ryan does a wonderful job of explaining his plan, and why it is necessary.

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