Friday, March 28, 2014

Families fighting Obamacare's assertion of "pill-level power" - my commentary on Fox News




Published by Fox News
By Jonathan Imbody
March 25, 2014
 
Why do so many Americans feel that we went to bed in the USA and woke up in China?
It seems that overnight, our government started tracking our phone calls, denying IRS approvals of organizations for political reasons, deciding which doctors we can visit and dictating decisions down to the level of what kind of light bulbs we can buy. Heavy-handed government edicts are making employers cut jobs, trim employees' hours and drop health insurance.
Secrecy and stonewalling still shroud the stories behind several of these government abuses of power, but the source of the loss of freedom related to our own healthcare is hardly mysterious.
In a time of economic crisis, Obamacare has confronted employers with new business-threatening health insurance costs and heavy Obamacare fines. Many employers predictably have had to cut jobs and drop healthcare insurance in order to survive.
By transferring massive power to the administration's federal bureaucracy, Obamacare snatched away decision-making power not only from employers, but also from patients and physicians. Obamacare empowered ideologically driven Obama administration officials to make myriad healthcare decisions for us and our employers, literally down to the level of specific pills.
The audacity of this pill-level government decision-making was exposed in the mandate under Obamacare that prescribes the provision of 20 specific contraceptives. While many Americans, including those with religious convictions, approve of and use certain contraceptives, the government-mandated, no-exceptions list includes four especially controversial items (Plan B, ella and two intrauterine devices--IUDs) that the FDA notes can end the life of a developing human being.
Despite a hot national controversy over the life-ending pills on the mandate list, the administration has wielded its new power under Obamacare with a zeal and rigidity frighteningly similar to that with which totalitarian countries like China enforce its one-child-only, forced abortion policy. In fact, the Obama administration's enforcement of its new pill policy has been so harsh and unyielding that one of Mr. Obama's own appointees to the Supreme Court--Justice Sonia Sotomayor--intervened with an injunction to stop the administration from forcing a group of elderly nuns engaged in hospice ministry, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to participate in the contraceptives mandate.
Why would the government intervene to force the provision of free contraceptives for every woman from the Hamptons to Beverly Hills? Everyone who has easily bought and used contraceptives at the neighborhood drug store can readily see that the administration has no compelling interest to do so beyond raw politics and ideology.
President Obama unwittingly confirmed the lack of a compelling need for government intervention when he asserted in a White House address, "Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives--99 percent." Why would the federal government intervene to mandate the provision of what even the President admits is a ubiquitous product? The existing ready access to contraceptives, combined with literally millions of exemptions handed out by the administration to virtually everyone but religious objectors, effectively rules out any government claim to a compelling reason for the mandate.
The Supreme Court today examined justification for trampling Americans' conscience freedoms. The Court heard two cases of family-owned businesses whose only crime appears to be not sharing the administration's ideology. Two families that own and operate companies--the Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hobby Lobby--maintain a science- and faith-based objection to providing just the four of the mandated contraceptives that can end a human life.
As a result, these two family-owned businesses face government fines totaling millions of dollars as the cost of exercising what they thought were every American's unalienable First Amendment freedoms. They could also, of course, simply drop their employees' healthcare insurance altogether. But that option likewise incurs draconian Obamacare fines, and the families want to continue providing excellent health coverage to employees as they were able to before Obamacare.
These families now fight in court for the freedoms that other Americans have fought for on the battlefield. Ordinary shopkeepers, farmers and other patriots won our freedoms when they put their lives on the line to challenge and break the power of a tyrannical king.
As the words of George Washington warn us, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."
The writer is vice president for government relations of the Christian Medical Association and director of Freedom2Care. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Family takes Obamacare religious freedom case to Supreme Court

Wayne Hepler, owner of the Seneca Hardwood Lumber company, sees his work and providing jobs to the community as part of a stewardship from God. He views his business as an extension of himself and his values.

Hepler has always depended on the first freedoms in the Bill of Rights--especially freedom of religion, speech and assembly. But when the Obama administration insisted that companies like his participate in the provision of life-ending contraceptives, Hepler said that violated those First Amendment freedoms.

Hepler notes that the government is saying, "We are going to force you to do something against your moral principles."

His daughter notes, "Anytime you see someone else's rights being violated, that should be a concern. If you can violate one right, what's to keep another right from being violated?"

Heritage Foundation video
View a video interview with Wayne Hepler, his daughter and attorney Matt Bowman here.

Now Hepler and others must argue their case for the restoration of religious freedom. The Supreme Court will hear two religious freedom cases, including Hepler's, on March 25.

Action

Save the date and visit here: http://alln.cc/OzwQ99 for the latest news and information when the two families, Alliance Defending Freedom’s client Conestoga Wood Specialties and The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s client Hobby Lobby seek justice from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pray for the attorneys arguing the case: http://alln.cc/Mhb8FY

Monday, March 17, 2014

Abortion clinics, like "bad gas station restroom" Gosnell clinic, forced by health regs to close

Gosnell's house of horrors

The Washington Times reports that in states across the country, a growing number of abortion clinics required to match the health and safety requirements of similar facilities are choosing to close their doors rather than come up to basic standards. That evidence speaks volumes about the appallingly low health and safety standards of abortion clinics. It also unveils the cold profit motives of clinic owners, who choose to close rather than pay for health and safety measures that would help protect the women, if not the babies, who enter their facilities.
Such a high regard for profit and low regard for women's health and safety marked the horrific Philadelphia abortion clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which was likened to "a bad gas station restroom." Gosnell was ultimately convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, for the death of three babies he delivered alive and then killed with concentration camp inhumanity, and also of involuntary manslaughter, for the death of Karnamaya Mongar, an immigrant woman who died after an anesthesia overdose during a Gosnell abortion.
Clinic regulations, such as vital requirements related to anesthesia, and on-site health inspections might have prevented the deaths. But a Grand Jury report revealed that under abortion advocate Governor Tom Ridge, "high-level government officials" had made a political and ideological decision to discontinue abortion clinic inspections because of "a concern that if they did routine inspections, they may find that a lot of these facilities didn’t meet [health and safety standards], and then there would be less abortion facilities, less access to women to have an abortion."
That's exactly what abortion advocates now claim about new state regulations for abortion clinics. Rather than initiating or even simply supporting efforts to protect women's health and safety in clinics through regulation and inspection, they instead accuse politicians of a "war on women."
The real war on women is where the casualties are found--inside the abortion clinics.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Debate over three-parent embryos and DNA manipulation reveals baseless "bioethics"


USA Today this morning highlights yet another weird ethical issue involving the destruction of living human embryos:
In two days of hearings ending Wednesday, a federal [FDA] committee proved quite skeptical about research that might help some patients birth healthy children — but might also open the door to human gene manipulation. The procedure being considered, called mitochondrial transfer, would mix the genes of two women in hopes of creating a healthy baby.
click image to view the video
Christian Medical Association CEO Dr. David Stevens appeared on the Fox and Friends national news program today to discuss this issue with cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck and "bioethicist" Dr. Arthur Caplan. Dr. Stevens noted the destruction of human embryos in the proposed procedure and non-destructive alternatives to pursuing the cure. He also highlighted the ethical issue of foisting genetic changes, with unknown consequences, on successive generations.
"Germline manipulation is something that has been prohibited in science all over the world up until the present time," Dr. Stevens noted.
Dr. Caplan replied, "I understand the concern about where we might go. I'm going to worry about that when I get there."
So there you have it--a "bioethicist" says we should ignore ethical concerns and race ahead with whatever. 
Once people abandon the objective, biblical principles (such as "Thou shalt not kill") that have guided civilizations for millennia, there's really nothing left but personal opinion. Whose opinion will prevail? Whoever has power. 
Welcome to the world of social Darwinism.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Kirsten Powers' "Bake the cake or else!" stance violates 1st Amendment

Kirsten Powers

In her acerbic commentary for USA Today, "Jim Crow laws for gays and lesbians," Kirsten Powers rails against Kansans considering a bill to prohibit coercing people into performing marriage ceremonies or providing adoption or business services that are "contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs" "regarding sex or gender." Citing the Bible and several pastors, Powers argues that Christians should love and serve everyone regardless of sexual preference, suggesting that unchristian bigots who decline to bake cakes for or take photos of same-sex weddings deserve no protection for contrary convictions.
Yet our 1st Amendment guarantees that even if your beliefs do not comport with the Bible, even if your conscience goes against the current of the culture, the government must not compel you to violate your convictions. Americans' commitment to conscience is so strong that we do not even force conscientious objectors to join the Army when the nation is at war. Nor do we force Catholic physicians to participate in the death penalty, or Jewish deli owners to serve pork barbecue, or commercial photographers who support animal rights to supply shots for fur coat ads.
How ironic it would be to turn a wedding won through a campaign for "equality and freedom" into an event of subjection and coercion.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Physicians reach "tipping point" in dissatisfaction, plan to exit in droves--thanks to government interference

Regulatory paperwork and government interference are
driving physicians out of medicine; a third plan to quit or cut hours.
Over a third of all physicians plan to quit medicine or cut hours, and three in five say Obamacare imperils the future of medicine, citing regulations and paperwork as top reasons for their intense dissatisfaction.
These are not Republican talking points but the published results of the premier nationwide survey of American physicians, taken every two years by the prestigious Physicians Foundation. According to the Foundation:
"Over half of physicians surveyed have reached a tipping point and plan to make changes to their practices. Many intend to take one or more steps likely to reduce patient access to their services, limiting physician availability at a time when doctors already are in short supply."
Over 59 percent said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has made them less positive about the future of healthcare, compared to 18.5 percent who said PPACA has made them more positive (p. 34).
Other survey findings prove similarly alarming:
Over 84 percent of physicians agree that the medical profession is in decline (p. 7).
Physicians cite as top reasons for decline of medical profession:
1. regulations/paperwork
2. loss of autonomy
3. erosion of the physician/patient relationship (p. 19).
Part II of the survey suggests that physicians are at a tipping point at which they will seek ways to further disengage from today’s medical practice environment, reducing their hours, decreasing the number of patients they see, and accepting the status of salaried employees – trends that should be of urgent concern to both policy makers and the public (p. 29).
Over a third (35.4%) plan to retire or cut hours (p. 22).
Physicians are working fewer hours on average and seeing fewer patients than four years ago. If these patterns continue, over 44,250 full-time-equivalent (FTE) physicians could be lost from the workforce in the next four years (p. 11).
Over one in four (26.1%) docs spends up to 20 hrs. per week on paperwork; over one in seven (15.9%) spend more time than that (p. 39).
Over three in four (78.4%) docs describe themselves as either maxed out or overextended (p. 40).

Solutions

Over half (55.7% of docs see health savings accounts as an effective cost solution (p. 33). While a surprising third of docs (36.3%) see a single payer system as a solution to cost, nearly half (48.3%) see it as negative (p. 33).
Less government regulation” was rated as the most positive solution to cost and access challenges, followed by “evidence-based medicine” and “widespread adoption of health savings accounts” (p. 37). 
Physicians cite defensive medicine as top driver of health costs (p. 31), so malpractice liability reform should be near the top of policy makers' legislative lists.

Conclusion

Unless policy makers take note of and address these serious concerns and statistics, you may not be able to find a doctor to care for you in the near future--regardless of what health laws are in place by then. If we want physicians to stay in and students to choose medicine as a career, we will need to:

  1. Restore medical decision making to the physician-patient relationship.
  2. Reform malpractice law to cut defensive medicine.
  3. Cut government interference by reducing the regulatory and bureaucratic burden on physicians.


 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Even with perfect software, Obamacare cannot function in real world


Some will read the Washington Post's revelation--that the administration is not addressing its mistakes in processing the online health insurance enrollments of tens of thousands of consumers--and conclude that the Obama administration is singularly incompetent. Perhaps so, but even with the best software system, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cannot function in the real world under any administration.
The Affordable Care Act fails to account for fundamental human nature. Faced with paying expensive new mandated insurance for full-time employees, employers simply will cut employees' hours. Presented with high new premiums that essentially subsidize insurance for sicker older people, healthy young people simply will refuse to enroll. Without adequate Medicare reimbursements--a cost-cutting measure used to help sell and pass the ACA--physicians simply will stop taking poor patients.
The Affordable Care Act defies efficiency and effectiveness by shifting decision-making power away from patients and their personal physicians to federal bureaucracies--the most inefficient and ineffective level of decision-making possible.
The ACA replaces free choice and competition with senseless and coercive mandates, such as forcing even conscientious objectors such as elderly nuns to participate in the provision of controversial contraceptives and sterilization surgeries.
Congress should heed the lessons of the ACA and enact measured reforms that drive costs down by letting consumers choose policies across state lines, provide safety nets for the poor through high-risk pools, increase personal choice and cost-saving accountability with health savings accounts and respect First Amendment principles protecting conscience.