01 Sep 2013 ObamaCare: Smoke And Mirrors, by Elaina F. George, MD
America’s health care system has been exceptional because it’s rooted in the principle of free enterprise.
Doctors have been free to practice medicine under guidelines set forth by their Hippocratic Oaths. Patients have been free to seek treatment from physicians of their choice.
It’s the envy of the world with both clinical and research innovation at the heart of its foundation.
Until recently, it has been very simple and affordable — the independent private physician had a moral, ethical and fiduciary responsibility to a patient. This relationship was sacrosanct, and there was no third party or middleman.
That will change with ObamaCare, but it’s not the first time government has hacked away at the capitalist underpinnings of American health care. It’s only the most recent… and most intrusive.
Since the United Nations created the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948, there has been an inexorable movement toward a centralized power that shifts decisions from individuals to government through regulation and mandates. It has readily caught on abroad and anchors socialized medicine. America was virtually the only western holdout. That changed in 1965, when the expansion of Social Security created Medicare, which, essentially, is socialized medicine for seniors.
ObamaCare is following in Medicare’s footsteps:
- Just like ObamaCare, Medicare was sold as a government program to take care of Americans. Government became the benefactor, caregiver and savior — absolving Americans from personal responsibility. All they had to do was give their faith and money to the government.
- Just like ObamaCare, Medicare was drafted by bureaucrats and politicians seemingly more interested in concentrating power and controlling the purse strings.
- Just like ObamaCare, no doctors or patients were involved in the crafting of Medicare. There were no true advocates for the patient.
Over the years, Medicare devolved into a bloated, wasteful and soon-to-be bankrupt system. It has been a piggy bank for Congress (in fact, $700 billion from the Medicare trust fund was raided to help fund ObamaCare).
Costs have increased through higher deductibles while there has been a steady decline in access and treatment options. For those who argue that health care will improve under ObamaCare, note that Medicare reimbursements to hospices will increase one percent while hospital reimbursements fall. This makes it hard to argue that a new system will not emphasize rationing and palliative care to decrease costs.
As Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill bicker about authorizing future funding for ObamaCare, the medical system that was once the envy of the world is being dismantled and reconfigured as a government-controlled grid falsely packaged as a caring, patient-centered system to provide unlimited access to medical care, the freedom to choose a doctor and decreased costs. Despite criticism that Republicans want people to die, the unfortunate truth is that ObamaCare is set up to do that very thing.
If left in place, ObamaCare will continue to drive a broken system propped up by taxpayer money. Participating physicians will be controlled through fear and intimidation. Cartels such as the medical insurance industry and Big Pharma will collude, through medication formularies and pharmacy benefit management companies, to control both price and access to medication.
Hospitals will continue to consolidate and become “too big to fail” because they have made themselves the only game in town. Patient care will be limited by increased waiting times for appointments, and access will be restricted through hospital-underwritten insurance that limits patients to facilities and doctors within their system.
The most ironic part about ObamaCare is that it will not lead to a significant decrease in those who cannot access meaningful health care.
People still won’t have adequate access because they won’t be able to find a doctor or cannot afford to seek treatment. The only difference is now they will be forced to pay for this privilege.
But maybe that’s the point. Create the problem, wait for the collapse and then provide the “solution” that Harry Reid already gleefully admitted to — a single-payer system that completes the government’s takeover of health care (and our freedom).
It’s time for Americans to stop being distracted by the bright shiny thing the Obama Administration has thrown before us. We deserve better.
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Dr. Elaina George, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, is a board-certified otolaryngologist and host of a weekly talk radio show, “Medicine On Call,” that explores health issues and the politics of medicine. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.