Thursday, March 7, 2013

Obama's secretive and misleading way to ration health care to seniors. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

VERNE STRICKLAND / March 8, 2013

I shouldn't do this to you. I searched for ways to cut down this verbose report of the many ways that U.S. seniors will be duped and screwed by the President of the United States, who ostensibly is watching over us. At least being honest with us.

But our health and even our lives are in the hands of a selfish, tricky man who is playing cruel games with our present, and our future -- or what is left of it.

If you or any member of your family is 65 years of age or older, you owe to yourself and your loved ones to read this -- even to struggle through it, even to slurp several cups of industrial-grade coffee to wash down a super size NO-DOZ. This news is that shocking.

Please do it. You may wonder then if it's too late to do anything about it. I frankly don't know. I will be 76 on March 11, 2013. I have incurable bone cancer. The stakes for me are no higher than for you. It just seems that the "inevitable" in my case is much closer.

REMEMBER . . . American generations who are deep into the "Golden Years". For you, it has been declared through Obama's signature legislation, now the law of the land, that when you reach the age of 76, you will cross into a unenviable medical 'twilight zone'.

On that day, under the unique Obama concept, treatment for cancer will no longer be available via the snare commonly known as "Obamacare" (a title from which our president and the Democrats who spawned this monstrosity are now fleeing in shame and terror. Little wonder.)

God bless and keep you. Soon, faith and prayer may be all we have left. 


English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photocredit: Wikipedia)

Health care reform has been one of the most polarizing discussions in all of public policy.  Assertions decrying poor access and low quality of U.S. medical care relative to nationalized systems, despite often being wholly contradicted by facts in the medical journals, have served to justify the dramatic changes to the U.S. health care system fundamental to the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Only after being signed into law by President Obama has the nature of those changes become visible. While many of the law’s provisions and their implications are necessarily complex, wordsmithing by the crafters of the ACA and strident denials by its supporters have masked some of the most significant impacts of the law.

The reality is that the IPAB represents an unprecedented shift of power from individual Americans and their families to a centralized authority, a controlling Board of political appointees that is virtually unaccountable, and destined to become President Obama’s version of the NICE rationing board in Britain’s socialized medical system, the National Health Service.

But wait – President Obama and the ACA supporters point to specific language in the ACA law that explicitly prohibits “rationing.” Beyond the obvious – the absence of any definition of rationing in the law – is that this is implausible deniability, since all evidence points to the de facto rationing that will clearly result from IPAB’s dramatic payment cuts to doctors and hospitals.

We know that doctors cite the money-losing reimbursement rates for government insurance as the Number One reason for refusing new Medicaid and Medicare patients. And we know, even before the ACA payment cuts of 31 percent in 2013, more than 20 percent of primary care doctors already were not accepting any new Medicare patients (five times the rate of doctors who refuse private insurance), and about 40 percent of primary care doctors and 20 percent of specialists already refused most new Medicare patients. By 2019, Medicare cuts under the Obama law will be so severe that payments will become even lower than Medicaid, a system by which almost one half of doctors already refuse to accept new patients.

But what about the claim by Obama supporters that rationing by the IPAB in government insurance is no different from having private insurance, where coverage can be denied?  No, it is not at all the same.  When a government body, or any single entity, is the overwhelmingly dominant insurer for a group of people, or when such an entity is given vast and unaccountable authority over decisions, like IPAB, that body’s decisions to restrict care are essentially absolute.

On the contrary, a private insurer has no monopoly – in a competitive environment, consumers can shop for insurance that meets their coverage needs.  Just as in any other good or service, competition not only reduces prices, it improves choices for individuals. The difference is that in this case, choice can save lives.

All that said, the clout of IPAB is even broader and more nefarious than on initial consideration. Beyond overpowering authority to directly cut payments for care under Medicare, the IPAB has the power to regulate all health care in the U.S., including private health care and private health insurance, so long as such action is deemed to “help reduce the growth rate [of national health expenditures] while maintaining or enhancing [Medicare] beneficiary access to quality care.” For instance, IPAB can reduce reimbursement via private insurance down to, or even below, the reduced Medicare rates, thereby maintaining (equal) access to care for Medicare enrollees and limiting overall national spending.

Can we predict the future of IPAB? Over a decade ago, Britain set up its National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a group of appointees whose pronouncements limit medication and technology usage based on costs. Despite the endless complaints and numerous lawsuits by doctors and citizen groups in Britain, NICE served as the model upon which IPAB was based. A Board of appointees like the IPAB, its role is to reduce health spending.

NICE has become a rationing Board, holding costs down by limiting available treatments. Ninety percent of England’s hospital trusts are now rationing care by following NICE’s long list of “recommendations” that includes stopping access to drugs that prolong life or cure breast cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, macular degeneration (causing progressive blindness), multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis, early Alzheimer’s disease, MS, and osteoporosis that causes hip fractures and premature death. NICE also restricts hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, procedures for back pain, infertility, steroid injections and cancer screening like PAP smears.  David Stout of the NHS Confederation representing primary care trusts explained to the BBC that “the NHS faces considerable financial pressures and scarce resources have to be used as effectively as possible.” Under NICE, treatments are routinely refused on the grounds of limited resources and the need to make decisions based not on individual’s or family’s choice, but on the government’s assessment of the benefit.

Ironically, according to its own annual reports, NICE is spending more money on propaganda about its decisions than it would have spent if it allowed patients access to the very medicines it is denying. 

 Britain’s Daily Mail reported that money that the institute spends on public relations campaigns “could have paid for 5,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers to get £2.50-a-day drugs for a year” or “nearly 200 patients with advanced kidney cancer to have a drug for 12 months that would double their life expectancy.”
Regardless of how strident the denials by ACA supporters about IPAB, nothing was more revealing about President Obama’s true agenda than his personal choice for Administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, Donald Berwick, officially appointed within a few months of the bill’s signing. Berwick proclaimed to the NHS in 2008 that individual choice is not appropriate in structuring health care – “that is for leaders to do” – as he continued, “I’m romantic about the NHS. I love it” despite its proven inferior outcomes and scandalous limits of access to care.

And one year later, Berwick praised the UK’s rationing Board specifically, saying “NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious, valuable, and — importantly — knowledge-building system.” This is the same Donald Berwick, who declared before his stealth appointment by President Obama while Congress was in recess that “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”