Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
President Obama removed the provision in his healthcare reform bill last year dealing with reimbursing physicians for end of life counseling. There was great citizen uproar about this provision. It was viewed by many as a first step toward rationing of medical care.
Sarah Palin call the provision the creation of “death panels.” A government “panel of experts” would decide whether Medicare would pay for treatment of patients deemed hopeless. The panel of experts would decide regardless of the patient’s wishes.
Sarah Palin’s term was criticized as “sensationalistic.” The criticism is correct. However, in a sound bite society you have to use effective sound bites to get attention. The eliminated provision illustrates the truth about a world of finite resources and infinite entitlements.
Entitlements are ever expanding as our population expands. The government cannot afford expanding our entitlement programs. Yet President Obama’s healthcare reform act is going to expand the Medicare and Medicaid entitlements to cover 32 million uninsured.
One way out is to decrease benefits. This is the administration’s plan.
Another way out of the mess is to attack the root of the problems. America could create a consumer driven healthcare model. America could also develop of system of logical tort reform. Government could subsidize those consumers that qualify for subsidies. Consumers should own their healthcare dollars as outlined in the ideal medical savings account.
I have objected to President Obama’s healthcare reform act. It puts all the power of medical decision making in the hands of the executive branch. HMS and CMS create rules and regulations without congressional oversight. The most recent revelation portends provisions to come.
President Obama’s administration has achieved the same end of life goal by regulations produced by Dr. Donald Berwick chief of CMS, starting Jan. 1.
“At a stroke, Medicare chief Donald Berwick has revived the "death panel" debate from two summers ago.”
Medicare will enact the same policy removed from the bill through the power of regulation. Congress has had no input. This is the first step in a never ending series of future steps President Obama will take to control our freedom to make healthcare choices. The regulations seem benign on the surface.
“The office of Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, the author of the original rider who then lobbied Medicare to cover the service, sent an email to supporters cheering this "victory" but asked that they not tell anyone for fear of perpetuating "the ‘death panel’ myth." The email added that "Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch."
President Obama has used a number of trick plays on congress and Americans to further his agenda. One trick President Obama pulled was his appointment of Dr. Berwick during congressional recess without congressional hearing after withholding the request for congressional hearings for 3 months.
Dr. Berwick now slips through a regulation about reimbursement that Congress explicitly rejected. Unfortunately for Dr. Berwick an email was leaked illustrating scheming with his political patrons to duck any public scrutiny.
“Expect many more such nontransparent improvisations under the vast powers ObamaCare handed the executive branch.”
An administrative representative immediately stepped in and declared the rule-making is not coercive. He claimed the rule gives seniors more autonomy, not less.
“The facts are that if the medical experts in Congress haven’t decided that some treatment or service is worthy of the fee schedule, then the program won’t pay for it even if it is in the best interests of patients.”
The two most expensive occurrences are the birth of premature infants and the last 30 days of life. As a society, we will have to learn how to deal with these facts. Society must be innovative in dealing with these tragedies to the satisfaction of all. As a society, we also have to conquer obesity and the onset and management of chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, President Obama’s methodology is wrong. He has demonstrated an arrogance and disrespect for the American people. The American people now understand his methodology. They have experienced his multiple trick plays and have lost trust in him and his administration. There is a perception that he disrespects the will of the people he has been elected to serve. President Obama will not achieve his goals as long as the perception exists.
The Democratic Party has experienced this mistrust during the midterm elections. Nonetheless, President Obama and the Democratic Party continued to show their disrespect for the will of the American people during the lame duck congressional session.