Another adverse side effect of Obamacare rears its ugly head - government rationing

Thursday, September 29, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: health care, rationing, health news

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(NaturalNews) To anyone who naively thought that President Barack Obama was being genuine and honest when he defended his so-called health reform measure against criticism, and that it would eventually lead to government rationing, take comfort in knowing that at least you weren't alone. But you were wrong.

Increasingly, as additional provisions of the Affordable Care Act come online, more and more states are, coincidentally, moving to limit the amount of care Americans can receive.

In Washington, as well as other states, health officials have begun imposing limits on the number of times government-insured (i.e. Medicaid) recipients are permitted to visit emergency rooms. According to reports, beginning Oct. 1 - the start of the new fiscal year - only three non-emergency visits to the E.R. will be covered by Medicaid each year, giving hospitals the right to bill patients for any visits over and above the allotted number.

"Non-emergency issues and chronic conditions should be treated by a primary care provider, not by an expensive visit to hospital emergency rooms," said Washington Health Care Authority Director Doug Porter.

Washington health officials and lawmakers predict the new policy will save the state about $34 million a year, or about one-third of the $98 million the state spent on E.R. visits last year.

If the emergency medical personnel I've spoken to are any indication, this initially seems like a good idea. Taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for ridiculously expensive non-emergent care. Being seen by a private physician in his or her office is much, much cheaper than being seen in an E.R.

But there are a couple of problems with this approach to public policy, not the least being the rationing mentality that is only going to grow from here - thanks in large part to Obamacare.

Understand that most private physicians have few problems taking patients who are covered under Medicare because, in general, Medicare pays better than Medicaid. And while states provide more than half of the funding for Medicaid programs, the rest comes from the federal government, so it is one of several government health insurance programs competing for your tax dollars.

Also, there is this - Obama's choice to head up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is one Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a known admirer and advocate of both socialized (as in, government-controlled) health care and rationing of that care.

Berwick, who talks about being "romantic" over Britain's socialistic National Health Service, has openly said rationing is not only coming to a U.S. healthcare system near you, but it's necessary and the right thing to do.

"It's not a question of whether we will ration health care. It is whether we will ration with our eyes open," Berwick said in a June 2009 interview for the magazine, Biotechnology Healthcare.

Okay, you say. So, what's that got to do with Obamacare?

Remember what the president said about being able to keep your private health insurance plan? Well, it turns out that's not necessarily going to be the case. Just recently a top Democrat and physician, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, said when Obamacare takes effect in full, as many as one-third of small businesses will ditch their employee health insurance coverage.

When that happens, those employees won't have any choice but to sign up with one of those government (read taxpayer) provided health insurance exchange pools. Most of the Congressional Budget Office estimates of the healthcare reform bill is that it would cost about $970 billion over 10 years, about half of which would be paid for in new taxes.

But that was based on a relatively small number of employees - something like 7 percent, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates - being moved off their employer-provided coverage and into the exchange pools. But if Dean is right, then something like 45 percent of employees will be moved into the government pools, boosting the overall cost of Obamacare by a trillion dollars.

Moreover, there is the issue of access. Already experts are predicting that adding tens of millions of people to an already congested healthcare system will force longer lines and more waiting.

And other experts say throwing millions more people into the system will also worsen an already expected physician shortage.

Does it still seem like "reforming health care," a la Obama, was a good idea? Or did our government just make a struggling system (which was already rife with government interference, by the way) worse?

"Once the centralized planning of medical delivery is complete - with cost-containment boards controlling the standards of care and the extent of coverage for both the private and public sectors - insurance companies, HMOs and the government will be able to legally discriminate against the sickest, most disabled and most elderly in our country. In other words, those whose care is most expensive," says Wesley Smith, an investigative reporter on the dangers of government-run healthcare.

Physician shortages, longer lines, more waiting and rationing. Without significant changes to the current Obamacare law - specifically, if its various mandates and requirements for private health plans, small and large businesses and insurance companies - aren't repealed, that's what we've got to look forward to.

Do you think those influences will make healthcare cheaper or more expensive? More accessible or less? Better or worse?


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