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Monday, November 22, 2010

Obama bureaucrat: Cut out visits to the doctor's office

The Tennessean published my commentary on how the new healthcare law will push the government toward cost-cutting measures that also cut into the patient-physician relationship:
Reform act benefits only bureaucrats

Published on November 21, 2010 in The Tennessean
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said of her party’s mas­sively expen­sive and expan­sive bill to accel­er­ate government’s takeover of Amer­i­can health care, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Amer­i­cans have found out what’s in the law and pro­nounced it dead on arrival.
A new Ras­mussen Reports tele­phone sur­vey finds 58 per­cent of likely vot­ers favor repeal of the health-care law. Demo­c­ra­tic poll­ster Pat Cad­dell asserts that the health-care fiat trig­gered his party’s loss of at least 60 seats in the House: “It is … health care (that) killed them. The Amer­i­can peo­ple found this a crime against democracy.”
Besides deplor­ing the par­ti­san­ship that pro­duced the titanic takeover, Amer­i­cans are also revolt­ing against the economy-wrecking, job-killing, bureaucrat-empowering, patient-quashing con­tent of the law.
Ten­nessee Gov. Phil Bre­desen, a Demo­c­rat, has warned that the health over­haul cre­ates strong incen­tives for employ­ers to drop cov­er­age, which would dra­mat­i­cally increase the cost for tax­pay­ers. Com­pa­nies strug­gling in the still-wallowing econ­omy aren’t about to hire new work­ers when faced with either pay­ing increased pre­mi­ums or hefty new gov­ern­ment fines.
The new law also gives incred­i­ble dis­cre­tionary power to Wash­ing­ton bureau­cratic ide­o­logues. That change, which shifts decision-making power away from you and toward Wash­ing­ton, threat­ens the very physician-patient rela­tion­ship that forms the bedrock of Amer­i­can health care.
Doc­tor vis­its at risk
Case in point: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s choice to head our Medicare and Med­ic­aid sys­tem wants to save time and money by cut­ting out your vis­its to your physician.
Cen­ters for Medicare and Med­ic­aid Ser­vices admin­is­tra­tor Don­ald Berwick lauds the Euro­pean social­ist model that saves money by dic­tat­ing which treat­ments and med­i­cine patients can and can­not get. He also wants you to stop vis­it­ing your doc­tor for per­son­al­ized care. Dr. Berwick has con­tended that “access to help and heal­ing … does not always mean — in fact, I think it rarely means — reliance on face-to-face meet­ings between patients, doc­tors, and nurses. The health-care encounter as a face-to-face visit is a dinosaur.”
Some older Ten­nesseans can still remem­ber their physi­cian mak­ing house calls. Younger Ten­nesseans can at least remem­ber when their physi­cian took what­ever time was needed to dis­cuss their ail­ments, face-to-face. Then man­aged care cut down on the time of office vis­its to save money. Now, this bureau­crat wants to elim­i­nate your office vis­its altogether.
The future that awaits patients under the new law is a Scrooge-like admin­is­tra­tion of face­less, government-run, rationed health care. The alter­na­tive is to repeal the new health-care law and pass bipar­ti­san, tar­geted reforms that pre­serve both our econ­omy and the patient-physician relationship.
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If Dr. Berwick gets his way, imagine this email communication to a patient:

"We understand from your text message to our virtual office that you're on the verge of dying from pneumonia. Please complete and submit the attached government-required Request for Electronic Healthcare Consult, Form No. 1040-IMSICK, in .pdf format. Our office manager will scan the bar code and place you in the queue for a brief teleconference, or alternatively, an email of web sites that may help you. This is an automated response--do not reply to this email address. Please be sure to assign someone to promptly cancel this request in the case of your demise while waiting."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Throwing Pro-Life Democrats Under the Bus?

The photo below was taken March 24, 2010. On that day, President Obama signed an executive order that he used to get pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to stop holding out on voting for his healthcare takeover bill because it funded abortions.
(Photo captions by National Right to Life - click here for larger image)
The executive order supposedly provided political cover for the handful of pro-life Democrat holdout legislators. The order also created the appearance of preventing federal funding of abortions--funding that the public strongly opposed.
In fact, the executive order did neither.
As the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops noted in their legal analysis of the executive order, "the President may not amend or otherwise contradict the legislative mandates expressed by Congress in the form of statutory law." Congress makes laws--not the President.
The recent election showed the gaping holes in the "political cover" that Mr. Obama supposedly provided for his colleagues. Eight of the 14 legislators pictured at the presidential executive order signing are now gone. Seven lost elections and the eighth, Bart Stupak of Michigan, retired after losing credibility over the executive order.

As a result, House Democrats in the new Congress will have lost the core of their already small pro-life contingent. Presumably led again by radically pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, they will now be able to vote more as a bloc on abortion-related matters, without worrying about the aggravating pro-life colleagues who stand in the way of their pro-abortion agenda.
So the question is, is it possible that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi anticipated this eventuality all along? Did they envision the executive order as the perfect way to appear to accommodate the demands of their pro-life colleagues while actually sealing their demise?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Try again to enact true health care reform

USA Today published my commentary on November 10, 2010:

A USA Today editorial ("Don't try to repeal the new health care law--improve it") defends the partisan, massive takeover of U.S. health care by asserting that the "core principle behind health reform" is this: "If you work hard and play by the rules, your life shouldn't be ruined because you happen to get sick" (Our view, Medical reform debate, Monday).
That sounds more like a nursery rhyme than a prescription for sound health policy.
Consider alternatively these core principles for true health reform: providing a safety net for needy patients while staying within our financial means; driving down costs to consumers by increasing competition across state lines and decreasing excessive bureaucracy; and averting the looming crisis of patient access caused by physician and nurse shortages by addressing runaway malpractice litigation and threats to healthcare professionals' conscience rights.
Instead of pursuing these reasonable course corrections in a climate of cooperation, partisans in Congress and the White House ramrodded through an intensely divisive and hugely expensive government takeover of health care during an economic crisis. It may take more than two years to right that sinking ship, but it's worth doing so, to protect patients and our economy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vote for the unborn a matter of principle, not party

Pursuing the premise that pro-life groups are somehow determined to rid the Democrat party of pro-life legislators, a Christianity Today article, "The Death of Pro-Life Democrats" glosses over the abortion-funding healthcare bill vote that triggered the alienation of some Democrats from the pro-life movement. The article notes simply that "President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting abortion funding."
Pro-life leaders point to past court decisions that demonstrate how the courts' view of the statutory mandate would override any executive order. The executive order also can be changed tomorrow by this pro-abortion President or any successor with the stroke of a pen. The healthcare bill, meanwhile, becomes permanent law.
Legislators don't vote on executive orders; they vote on bills. The pro-life leaders I work with welcome solidly pro-life legislators regardless of party. We just want dependable pro-life legislators whose vote for the unborn will be a matter of principle, not party.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Capitol Hill Inside Scoop: Pro-Life Election Results Rundown

I attended a private meeting yesterday of U.S. House of Representatives staff and pro-life leaders to discuss the results of the election from a pro-life perspective. Here's a quick summary of what happened on Tuesday:
  • 52 Pro-life Improvements in U.S. House of Representatives:
    • 38 pro-life Members-elect replacing Members who voted consistently or mostly pro-abortion
    • 14 pro-life Members-elect replacing Members with a mixed pro-life voting record
  • 32 No Pro-life Change:
    • 25 pro-life Members-elect replacing outgoing Members who had a consistent pro-life voting record
    • 7 pro-abortion Members-elect replacing pro-abortion Members
  • 3 full or partial pro-life losses:
    • 1 pro-life Member who will be replaced by a pro-abortion Member-elect
    • 2 sometimes pro-life Members replaced by pro-abortion Members-elect
Pro-Life Improvements - Listing
Incoming Member is expected to vote consistently pro-life; predecessor voted consistently or mostly pro-abortion:
1. AR-02 Griffin, Tim (replacing Snyder)
2. AZ-01 Gosar, Paul (replacing Kirkpatrick)
3. AZ-05 Schweikert, Dave (replacing Mitchell)
4. CO-03 Tipton, Scott (replacing Salazar)
5. CO-04 Gardner, Cory (replacing Markey)
6. FL-02 Southerland, Steve (replacing Boyd)
7. FL-08 Webster, Daniel (replacing Grayson)
8. FL-22 West, Allen (replacing Klein)
9. FL-24 Adams, Sandy (replacing Kosmas)
10. ID-01 Labrador, Raul (replacing Minnick)
11. IL-11 Kinzinger, Adam (replacing Halvorson)
12. IL-14 Hultgren, Randy (replacing Foster)
13. IL-17 Schilling, Bob (replacing Hare)
14. KS-03 Yoder, Kevin (replacing Moore)
15. MD-01 Harris, Andy (replacing Kratovil)
16. MI-07 Walberg, Tim (replacing Schauer)
17. NC-02 Ellmers, Renee (replacing Etheridge)
18. ND-AL Berg, Rick (replacing Pomeroy)
19. NH-01 Guinta, Frank (replacing Shea-Porter)
20. NM-02 Pearce, Steve (replacing Teague)
21. NV-03 Heck, Joe (replacing Titus)
22. NY-13 Grimm, Michael (replacing McMahon)
23. NY-29 Reed, Tom (replacing Massa)
24. OH-18 Gibbs, Bob (replacing Space)
25. PA-07 Meehan, Pat (replacing Sestak)
26. PA-08 Fitzpatrick, Mike (replacing Murphy)
27. SC-05 Mulvaney, Mick (replacing Spratt)
28. SD-AL Noem, Kristi (replacing Herseth Sandlin)
29. TN-06 Black, Diane (replacing Gordon)
30. TN-08 Fincher, Stephen (replacing Tanner)
31. TX-17 Flores, Bill (replacing Edwards)
32. TX-23 Canseco, Quico (replacing Rodriguez)
33. VA-02 Rigell, Scott (replacing Nye)
34. VA-05 Hurt, Robert (replacing Perriello)
35. VA-09 Griffith, Morgan (replacing Boucher)
36. WA-03 Herrera, Jaime (replacing Baird)
37. WI-07 Duffy, Sean (replacing Obey)
38. WI-08 Ribble, Reid (replacing Kagen)

Incoming Member is expected to vote consistently pro-life; predecessor had a mixed voting record
1. AR-01 Crawford, Rick (replacing Berry)
2. IN-08 Buchshon, Larry (replacing Ellsworth)
3. IN-09 Young, Todd (replacing Hill)
4. LA-03 Landry, Jeff (replacing Melancon)
5. MI-01 Benishek, Dan (replacing Stupak)
6. MN-08 Cravaack, Chip (replacing Oberstar)
7. MO-04 Hartzler, Vicky (replacing Skelton)
8. OH-01 Chabot, Steve (replacing Driehaus)
9. OH-06 Johnson, Bill (replacing Wilson)
10. OH-16 Renacci, Jim (replacing Boccieri)
11. PA-03 Kelly, Mike (replacing Dahlkemper)
12. PA-10 Marino, Thomas (replacing Carney)
13. PA-11 Barletta, Lou (replacing Kanjorski)
14. WV-01 McKinley, David (replacing Mollohan)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Warping jurisprudence wrongly exorcises our religious values from our government

When a U.S. senate candidate recently challenged her opponent during a debate to clarify whether he meant that the theory of "separation of church and state" was actually in the Constitution, many in the audience at Widener University Law School howled in derision. Why did the legal audience not laugh when the other candidate in response omitted the religious free exercise portion of the First Amendment?
The law faculty and their protégés laughed selectively because they are steeped not so much in the actual text and original intent of the Constitution but in decades of ideological, warping jurisprudence that wrongly exorcises our religious values from our government. Taking Thomas Jefferson's "separation of church and state" phrase from a personal letter out of context has served to thwart not only the persuasions of Jefferson, who attended church services at the Capitol two days after coining the phrase, but also of virtually all of the Constitution's framers and the American citizenry who through their state legislatures ratified the document. Seeking to protect the Church from government dominance and to protect the consciences of individuals from state coercion, Americans at our founding forbade Congress to make any "law respecting an establishment of religion" and enshrined the "free exercise" of religion as a vital force in democracy.
Substituting judicial ideology for the Constitution while omitting the full protections of the First Amendment is a fast track to expunging religious views from the body politic and to a less tolerant, less inclusive and less just society.

The naked public square, religious freedom and conscience rights

While historically insightful, a recent Washington Post op-ed by Michael Gerson misses the mark on the contemporary application of a controversial challenge regarding Thomas Jefferson's non-Constitutional phrase, "separation of church and state".
Although Jefferson put his own phrase in context by attending church services in the House of Representatives, creative courts have manipulated his words to undermine the framers' establishment clause intent. Decades of judicial gerrymandering have increasingly cordoned off religious people and their values to the confines of churches, synagogues and mosques, resulting in what Richard John Neuhaus aptly labeled the "naked public square".
Even Mr. Gerson limits the policy-making influence of "teachings of faith" to "respecting the priority of conscience." Yet conscience is precisely what is not respected in our country today. Healthcare professionals are being fired, intimidated, demoted and blackballed from medicine simply for following their consciences and adhering to life-affirming ethical standards rather than participating in abortion. Now President Obama plans to rescind the only federal regulation protecting conscience in healthcare.
Unlike Jefferson, our government increasingly respects neither conscience nor the Constitution. As a result, our body politic is being robbed of the creative and power-challenging vitality of faith and the redemptive, faith-based morality of a large segment of the citizenry.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fight focuses on bill to ban federal funding of abortions

According to abortion activists, the "whole purpose of health care reform" included diverting our tax dollars into their clinics to pay for elective abortions.
According to "Pro-choice activist spoiling for a fight," The Washington Times, October 24, 2010, Susan A. Cohen, director of government affairs for the Guttmacher Institute, wrote an analysis, "Insurance Coverage of Abortion: The Battle to Date and the Battle to Come." Ms. Cohen's analysis starts with a review of how abortion was handled in this year's debate over health care reform:
"The whole purpose of health care reform was to expand coverage of basic health services, which logically should include the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion," she wrote.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced this summer by veteran pro-life leader Mr. Smith and 183 co-sponsors, will be used to "demagogue against abortion" in health care, Ms. Cohen predicted. In fact, the Smith bill is so sweeping, Ms. Cohen added, that it could be a "a clear political, communications and legal road map" for the anti-abortion movement.
My friend Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) (pictured with me at left at a White House event during which Pres. Bush signed into law the cord blood legislation he had sponsored) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced a strong bill to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in every federal program. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding. This bipartisan pro-life bill (read the full text of the HR 5939 bill here) already has 184 cosponsors--22 Democrats and 166 Republicans.

Action:
Urge your Representative to keep your tax dollars from funding abortion by cosponsoring the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The first list below names Representatives who have not yet cosponsored the bill but did vote for the similar Stupak-Pitts amendment. The second lists those who have cosponsored the bill.

Republicans who voted for Stupak/Pitts and have NOT cosponsored HR 5939:
Biggert
Bono Mack
Capito
Castle
Dent
Djou
Dreier
Frelinghuysen
Hastings
Heller
Kirk
Lance
Mack, C.
Nunes
Reichert
Young, B
Young, D

Democrats who voted for Stupak/Pitts and have NOT yet cosponsored HR 5939
Baca
Barrow
Berry
Bishop
Boccieri
Cardoza
Chandler
Cooper
Costa
Davis (AL)
Doyle
Etheridge
Gordon
Hill
Holden
Kaptur
Kildee
Langevin
Lynch
Matheson
Michaud
Mollohan
Neal
Obey
Perriello
Pomeroy
Reyes
Rodriguez
Ryan (OH)
Salazar
Shuler (NC)
Skelton (MO)
Snyder
Space
Spratt
Stupak
Tanner
Teague


157 Original Cosponsors: Smith, C., Lipinski, Aderholt, Akin, Alexander, Austria, Bachmann, Bachus, Barrett, G., Bartlett, Barton, Bilirakis, Bishop, R., Blackburn, Blunt, Boehner, Bonner, Boozman, Boren, Boustany, Brady, K., Bright, Broun, Brown, H., Brown-Waite, Buchanan, Burgess, Burton, Buyer, Camp, Campbell, Cantor, Cao, Carter, Cassidy, Childers, Coble, Coffman, Cole, Conaway, Costello, Crenshaw, Critz, Culberson, Dahlkemper, Davis, G., Davis, L., Diaz-Balart, L., Diaz-Balart, M., Donnelly, Duncan, Elhers, Ellsworth, Emerson, Fallin, Fleming, Forbes, Fortenberry, Foxx, Franks, Gallegly, Garrett, Gingrey, Gohmert, Goodlatte, Granger, Graves, Griffith, Guthrie, Hall, R., Harper, Hensarling, Herger, Hoekstra, Hunter, Inglis, Issa, Johnson, S., Johnson, T., Jones, W., Jordan, Kanjorski, King, P., King, S., Kingston, Kline, Lamborn, Latourette, Latta, Linder, Luetkemeyer, Lummis, Lungren, Manzullo, Marchant, Marshall, McCarthy, H., McCaul, McClintock, McCotter, McHenry, McIntyre, McKeon, McMorris Rodgers, Mica, Miller, C., Miller, Gary, Moran, J., Murphy, T., Myrick, Neugebauer, Oberstar, Olson, Ortiz, Paulsen, Pence, Peterson, Pitts, Platts, Poe, Posey, Price, T., Radanovich, Rahall, Roe, Rogers (AL), Rogers (MI), Rogers, Hal, Roskam, Ros-Lehtinen, Ryan, P., Scalise, Schmidt, Schock, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shadegg, Shimkus, Shuster, Smith, A., Smith, L., Stearns, Sullivan, Taylor, Terry, Thompson, G., Thornberry, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Turner, Upton, Wamp, Westmoreland, Whitfield, Wilson, J., Wittman, Wolf

29 Added Cosponsors: Altmire, Bilbray, Calvert, Carney, Chaffetz, Cuellar, Driehaus, Flake, Gerlach, Graves, T., Jenkins, Melancon, Miller (FL), Latham, Lee, C., Lewis, J., LoBiondo, Lucas, Paul (TX), Petri, Putnam, Rehberg, Rohrabacher, Rooney, Ross, Royce, Simpson, Walden, Wilson, C.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whatever happened to "never again"?

The Washington Times recently published my commentary below, on stem cell research ethics:

After the Nuremberg war crimes trials highlighted horrific Nazi experiments on prisoners, the Nuremberg ethical code laid down "never again" guidelines guarding research on human subjects. Utilitarian scientists in the Geron Corporation are once again pushing those ethical boundaries, using human patients as guinea pigs in their quest for lucrative patents from embryo-destructive stem cell research ("Stem-cell treatment tested on patient," Oct. 12, Nation, A-6).
To protect patients, the Nuremberg Code requires patient informed consent and the absence of any "force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion." Yet "over-reaching" has characterized the propaganda of too many embryonic stem cell researchers, and given the prospect of lucrative patents, the potential for pressuring patients is significant.
Many oppose embryonic stem cell experimentation on moral grounds, since embryonic stem cell research involves the deliberate destruction of living, genetically complete human embryos who otherwise could grow into children.
Many oppose federal funding of embryo-killing research on pragmatic grounds, arguing that ethical adult stem cell research, already treating over 70 diseases, offers far more promise for near-term therapies for patients.
Still others oppose it on legal grounds. A lawsuit by the Christian Medical Association and adult stem cell researchers recently resulted in a temporary injunction from a federal court, which found that federal law "unambiguously" prohibits funding embryo-destroying research ("Judge puts Obama stem cell policy on hold," Aug. 24).
Even some who minimize the moral importance of embryonic human beings have raised opposition to the study, which involves the risk of injecting undifferentiated embryonic stem cells into adult human patients with spinal-cord injuries.
Stem cell expert John Gearhart of the University of Pennsylvania protested potentially catastrophic harm to patients in the Geron Corporation study, asking, "Are we transplanting cells that are going to cause tumors?"
Medically unethical, immoral, impractical, illegal and potentially lethal research on human subjects. Whatever happened to "never again"?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crisis calls for more than a milquetoast God

A USA Today article, "Americans' views of God shape attitudes on key issues," suggests that many Americans see God as far removed from our personal or national affairs. Baylor University researchers assert that nearly one in four Americans "see a Distant God that booted up the universe, then left humanity alone." The latest Gallup poll on the topic finds that seven of ten Americans believe that "religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life."
This trend may soon reverse. Faith can flourish when crises highlight our dependence on God.
Gallup found that in the world's poorest countries, the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives reaches 95%--contrasted with half that number in wealthy countries. A USA Today poll reveals that 83% of Americans still believe in a God who answers prayers.[3]
We would do well to heed Alexis de Tocqueville's insight from his famous 1835 publication, Democracy in America, in which he summarized the secrets of American success: "Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom."
The seemingly intractable moral and economic crises we now face may prompt us to exchange the current coolly existential view of a distant milquetoast God for the more active and powerful biblical God of our founders.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Memo to Prez: Time to restore science to its "rightful place"

President "President Obama has said he will base funding decisions on evidence and 'restore science to its rightful place.' A widely heralded scientific breakthrough gives him the chance to turn his airy rhetoric into solid action.

Mr. Obama and other politicians who minimize the value of early human life have swallowed hook, line and sinker the hyperbolic speculations of grant-seeking embryonic stem cell researchers. Mr. Obama has joined the politicians who have turned embryonic stem cell research into a wedge issue. For years these self-righteous politicians have hurled stones at their pro-life opponents who advocated ethical adult stem cell research, accusing them of cruelly standing in the way of cures.
During his vice presidential campaign, Sen. John Edwards boasted of embryonic stem cell research, vowing, "People like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Now we know that Mr. Edwards' vows on any subject weren't exactly reliable.
As a professed Catholic opposing her church on the issue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brazenly trumpeted embryonic stem cell research as holding "the biblical power to cure."
But time has a way of testing truth, and none of these incredible statements has come close to fruition. Yet the snake oil campaign greased the skids for hundreds of millions of federal and state tax dollars to be dumped into the black hole of embryonic stem cell research during a time of economic crisis. A federal judge on Aug. 23 granted a temporary halting of such illegal and prodigal research, based on a lawsuit brought by several adult stem cell researchers, the Christian Medical Association and others.
News reports recently heralded a landmark breakthrough--scientists producing apparently safe, efficient and effective alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, using induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Compared to the speculative, controversial and dangerous embryonic stem cell research that Mr. Obama has insisted on funding illegally, iPS cell and adult stem cell research is a cheaper, faster, safer, more efficient and quicker path to real cures for real patients.
So here is the evidence, Mr. President. Will you now keep your word and restore science to its rightful place, obey the law and focus our funding on ethical and effective stem cell research that offers the best hope for real patients?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Castle's cloning coverup

Rep. Castle
Primary voters may have kicked Delaware Republican Rep. Michael Castle out of the House, but his deceptive and deadly bill to fund human cloning lives on.
Rather than pragmatically funding the proven and non-controversial adult stem cell research that is already providing help and hope for real patients, stubborn ideologues like Castle have ignored the evidence and determined instead to fund human cloning and lethal experimentation on living human embryos.
President Obama continues to shovel out hundreds of millions of dollars to speculative embryo-killing stem cell research, despite the clear illegality of doing so. That's why two adult-stem-cell scientists, James L. Sherley and Theresa Deisher, along with the Christian Medical Association and others, filed a lawsuit to enforce the federal law that clearly bans federal funding of “the creation of a human embryo ... for research purposes” and “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.”
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with our arguments and temporarily halted the federally funded embryo destruction. That ruling infuriated the "clone and kill" crowd in Congress, who refocused on passing Castle's bill, “The Stem Cell Research Advancement Act” (H.R. 4808) before voters kicked more of them out of office.
By deploying semantics and sophistry, Castle's bill would actually authorize federal funding of human-cloning research. The bill craftily redefines “human cloning” as implanting a cloned embryo in a womb, rather than using the obvious definition of creating an embryo through cloning. By allowing the creation of a clone but barring her implantation, the bill actually mandates killing the cloned human being.
It's time for voters to demand that their politicians stop funding illegal, lethal and unethical research and instead focus on the proven and effective adult stem cell research that offers infinitely greater potential to help real patients right now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RU-486 abortion pill deadly to mother and baby


Ten years after the FDA's politically streamlined approval of the RU-486 abortion pill, an abortion advocate tells USA Today, "It's unlikely that mifepristone [RU-486] will ever completely replace early surgical abortions."
A decade of experience with RU-486 clearly shows why: The powerful pill can be as deadly to the mother as it is to her developing baby.
The FDA acknowledges that since it approved the chemical abortifacient in September 2000, the agency "has received reports of serious bacterial infection, bleeding, ectopic pregnancies that have ruptured, and death. Those reports led to the revision of the black box labeling."
Commonplace off-label uses of the pill further intensify the risks to women's health and lives. Abortion clinics that prescribe RU-486 for home use put women at risk, because it is too difficult to distinguish the pain and bleeding that typically accompany RU-486 from similar symptoms that foreshadow fatal septicemia.
A recall petition document filed in 2002 with the Food and Drug Administration by physicians and women's advocates chronicles how politically pressured FDA officials ditched the agency's own well-established standards in accepting poorly constructed RU-486 trials that were not blinded, randomized, or concurrently controlled (see also 21 C.F.R. § 314.126). The FDA also inexplicably waived its rule requiring the testing of all new drugs for their potential effects on children and teens (see also 21 C.F.R. § 314.55).
Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that in the interest of patient safety, the FDA must objectively evaluate drugs based on medical evidence--not political pressure.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Physicians herald stem cell breakthrough, call for Obama to "restore science to its rightful place"

"All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures."
David Stevens, MD
That's how the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) sizes up the battle over stem cell science. The organization heralded the recent news of scientists producing apparently safe, efficient and effective alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, saying that the breakthrough should help stop federal funding of obsolete, embryo-destroying research. The CMA was an original party to a lawsuit that on Aug. 23 won a temporary halting of all federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.
"This is terrific news for patients and those who care for them, offering solid promise for ethical, efficient and timely stem cell-based therapies," declared CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens. "This breakthrough validates many other significant proofs of the therapeutic promise of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and adult stem cells.
"Compared to the speculative, controversial and dangerous embryonic stem cell research that the administration insists on funding illegally, iPS cell and adult stem cell research is a cheaper, faster, safer, more efficient and quicker path to the cures we need.
"This study should put one of the final nails in the coffin of federally funded embryonic stem cell research. This breakthrough is further evidence that the government's illegal funding of embryo-destroying research is like investing in vinyl record technology in a digital age. With patients desperately waiting for cures and ethical alternatives showing such great promise, it is increasingly ludicrous to spend and speculate our tax dollars instead on unethical, illegal and cancer-producing embryonic stem cell research.
Dr. Stevens explained, "These new iPS cells are safer; there is no evidence of a risk of causing cancer by using viruses to insert genes into cells. The new cells are produced more efficiently, taking just 17 days to create. The new iPS cells are cheaper to develop, can easily tissue match the patient that the therapy are given too and are morally acceptable to all. The fact that these iPS cells strategy can then turn those cells into ones that could be used for transplants is a huge step forward as well.
How can anyone who studies this evidence objectively continue to insist that our government, in a time of financial crisis, should continue to shovel hundreds of millions of tax dollars down the black hole of speculative embryo-destroying research? Unfortunately, some prominent scientists and universities remain blinded by the prospect of cashing in on patents they hold on embryonic stem cell lines and the processes for using them.
We're not holding our breath for advocates of embryo-destroying research to suddenly admit they were wrong, but scientists of all people should understand that hypotheses are just that--hypothetical.
All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures. Embryonic stem cell research advocates need to put aside their misguided ideology and financial interests and let science pursue real cures for real patients.
"President Obama has said he will base funding decisions on evidence and 'restore science to its rightful place.'
Well, here is the evidence, Mr. President--so let's restore science to its rightful place, obey the law and focus our funding on ethical and effective stem cell research that offers the best hope for real patients.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Support bipartisan bill to protect conscience, ban all government abortion funding

Rep. Smith
Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced a strong bill to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in every federal program. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding.
This bipartisan pro-life bill has 155 cosponsors--18 Democrats and 139 Republicans. Pro-life healthcare professionals and patients who want pro-life physicians will especially note the conscience protections provisions of this bill (read the text of the bill here):
(a) NONDISCRIMINATION.—A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance (either directly or indirectly), may not subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) HEALTH CARE ENTITY DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, the term 'health care entity' includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(c) ADMINISTRATION.—The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this subsection, and coordinate the investigation of such complaints.
Rep. Lipinski (left)
Without conscience protections that allow physicians and nurses to practice medicine according to life-affirming ethical codes and moral convictions, pro-life and faith-based physicians and institutions will leave medicine. That will leave many patients who depend on faith-based care without access to medicine. With so much at stake, I trust you will keep abreast of this issue and let your Representative know you want him or her to cosponsor this important bill.
Action: Urge your Representative to keep your tax dollars from funding abortion: The lists below includes Members who supported the Stupak/Pitts amendment to the health care reform bill, which is similar to the Smith/Lipinski bill (HR 5939), but have not yet cosponsored the Smith/Lipinski bill. If your Representative appears on this list, urge that Member to "cosponsor the Smith/Lipinski bill (HR 5939)."
  • Republicans: Biggert, Bilbray, Bono Mack, Capito, Castle, Dent, Djou, Dreier, Flake, Frelinghuysen, Hastings, Heller, Kirk, Lance, Mack, C., Nunes, Putnam, Reichert, Rohrabacher, Rooney, Royce, Young, B., Young, D.,
  • Democrats: Baca, Barrow, Berry, Bishop, Boccieri, Cardoza, Chandler, Cooper, Costa, Cuellar, Davis (AL), Doyle, Etheridge, Gordon, Hill, Holden, Kaptur, Kildee, Langevin, Lynch, Matheson, Melancon, Michaud, Mollohan, Neal, Obey, Perriello, Pomeroy, Reyes, Rodriguez, Ryan (OH), Salazar, Shuler, Skelton, Snyder, Space, Spratt, Stupak, Tanner, Teague

Monday, September 20, 2010

Real cures for real patients: ethical and proven adult stem cell research

A USA Today story about our lawsuit to enforce federal law prohibiting human embryo destruction notes that "Stem cell research has the potential to produce breakthroughs in treating life-threatening diseases that have resisted traditional treatment."

More specifically, only the type of stem cell research that does not kill a living human embryo has demonstrated effectiveness in real patients, currently treating over 70 diseases. Embryonic stem cell research destroys living, genetically complete human embryos to harvest embryonic stem cells, which are powerful yet unstable and produce tumors. Despite hundreds of millions of federal and institutional dollars, embryo-destroying research has not cured a single patient.
That's why physicians including the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association filed the original lawsuit--to enforce the bipartisan federal law that will insure that our government focuses funding on the already proven, fastest and ethical route to real cures for real patients.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Administration's Rhetoric and Reversals

The administration is employing a "bait and switch" strategy for hoodwinking the public and enforcing its big-government healthcare and abortion agenda.

President Obama made the sales pitch on ABC This Week (click for video), insisting, "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase." Now his Department of Justice insists that the healthcare law is a tax, and that Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution.
President Obama also insisted in his healthcare bill sales pitch, "And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions."
Now Senate Democrats have railroaded through committee an amendment by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to remove restrictions on performing abortions in military facilities--and thus use federal dollars to subsidize abortions.
Over 200 military physicians signed onto a letter calling on the Senate to reject the Burris amendment. These military physicians oppose the Burris abortion amendment as an explosive and divisive maneuver that threatens to further disrupt our military cohesiveness and culture in a time of war.
As recently retired Air Force physician Col. Donald Thompson explains, "Our military exists to fight our nation's wars, not to be a ideological playground."
Repeated reversals of rhetorical promises are making this administration's campaign promise of transparency seem more and more like a transparent lie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patients imperiled by conscience protection gaps in new healthcare law

Where does the new healthcare overhaul law leave healthcare professionals regarding the exercise of their conscience rights? How might it impact the poor patients now served by faith-based professionals and institutions?
Summary of Conscience Protection Gaps
  1. Narrow range of moral issues. Conscience protections only apply to abortion and assisted suicide--not to all the other ethical challenges healthcare professionals face, such as prescriptions of abortifacients, contraception, sterilization and many other issues with moral implications.
  2. No protection for medical residents who decline to train for abortions. While the new law does not invalidate other existing Federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals who decline to participate in training for abortions, the other existing law does not apply to funding under the new law.
  3. No protection for health plans. The conscience protections in the new law only apply to "individuals" and "healthcare facilities"; the law does not include proposed language to also protect "a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, a plan sponsor, a health insurance issuer, a qualified health plan or issuer offering such a plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan."
  4. Nowhere to report abortion discrimination. Notably, the law does not specify an agency where victims of discrimination may report abuses related to abortion--only abuses related to assisted suicide.
  5. "Assisted suicide" conscience protection may be invalid. Some analysts have raised the concern that the term "assisted suicide" may not apply to states where assisted suicide is legal but the act has been semantically redefined by euphemisms such as "aid in dying". 
HR 3590 (now law)
SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.
(p. 53)
(3) PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS.-No individual health care provider or health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) APPLICATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.-
(2) NO EFFECT ON FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.- (A) IN GENERAL.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding- (i) conscience protection; (ii) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and (iii) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.
[Note that the other Federal laws do not apply to funding under the new healthcare law.]
(p. 141)
SEC. 1553. PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ON ASSISTED SUICIDE. (a) IN GENERAL.-The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
(b) DEFINITION.-In this section, the term ''health care entity'' includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(d) ADMINISTRATION.-The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this section.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Injunction against embryo destruction will protect "real cures for real patients"

A federal district court has granted the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and others a preliminary injunction against the Obama administration's attempts to bypass a law that prohibits federal funding of research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed.
Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, today issued the preliminary injunction, stating, "Plaintiffs have established that the preliminary injunction factors—the likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable injury, the balance of hardships, and the public interest—weigh in favor of a preliminary injunction."
CMA CEO David Stevens, MD, noted, "This case highlights the harm that diverting federal funds away from proven effective research poses to those patients who are waiting for cures. We are grateful that the Court also recognizes the clarity of the law and the harm that funding illegal and unethical embryo-destroying research poses to ethical researchers.
"The bottom line is that ethical stem cell research that does not destroy a living human embryo is the fastest, most efficient and effective means to obtaining real cures for real patients. Already providing hope and help for patients with over 70 diseases, ethical stem cell research that does not destroy living human embryos holds proven promise for even more amazing breakthroughs in the future."
The Court also noted that "the will of Congress, as expressed in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, is to prohibit federal funding of research in which human embryos are destroyed. Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment is unambiguous. It prohibits research in which a human embryo is destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subject to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed under applicable regulations. The Guidelines violate that prohibition by allowing federal funding of ESC research because ESC research depends up on the destruction of a human embryo."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Simple truths about complicated stem cell research

Most non-scientists have trouble following the technical side of the stem cell debate, but the basic principles you need to know are actually pretty simple:
  1. There are different kinds of stem cells and different ways--some lethal to developing human beings, others harmless--to tap their potential for medical advances.
  2. Embryonic stem cell research, including human cloning research, destroys a living human embryo--the early phase of life that each of us human individuals begins with.
  3. After decades of research and hyperbolic speculation, embryonic stem cells still have not helped a single patient.
  4. Meanwhile, non-embryonic, or "adult" stem cell research that does not harm a human embryo, is already providing real help and hope to patients suffering from 73 diseases and ailments.
  5. U.S. law forbids federal funding used to harm or kill human embryos. A recent court case by the Christian Medical Association and others challenges the Obama administration's policy to fund apparently illegal research.
So if you want the fastest, already proven route to helping real patients without killing living developing human beings, non-embryonic stem cell research is clearly the answer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Over 200 military physicians protest amendment to use military facilities for abortions

Over 200 physicians who have served U.S. soldiers have signed a letter to U.S. senators protesting a Senate bill amendment that would use U.S. military medical facilities as abortion clinics. The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association organized the letter and today sent it to the senators urging them to vote no on a National Defense Authorization Act amendment by Sen. Roland Burris that would remove restrictions on performing abortions in military facilities. CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military, said,
"If enacted, requiring military physicians to perform abortions threatens military readiness. Morale will suffer among those already serving. Morale is a key component of military effectiveness. Furthermore, just as we have seen a marked decrease in young doctors entering OB/Gyn training for fear of being forced to do abortion, this requirement will discourage young doctors from joining the military."
"In addition to facilitating further destruction of unborn life, the provision will place military physicians with life-honoring convictions in the unenviable position of either disobeying orders, abandoning their conscience, or seeking objector status."
Current law in effect since 1996 prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense (DoD) medical personnel or in DoD medical facilities (except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest). A separate provision prohibits the use of DoD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother. In 2006, the House rejected by a vote of 191-237 an amendment similar to the Burris amendment. The Burris amendment, which would allow abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases, is even more expansive than the rejected 2006 amendment. The letter from military physicians urges senators to "vote NO on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (DoD) (S.3280) because it contains Sen. Roland Burris' amendment to strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the US Code."
CMA Director of Global Health Outreach Col. Donald Thompson, MD, who recently retired from the Air Force, said,
"This provision would put conscientious military medics on the losing side of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in key areas crucial to good order and discipline in the military. Chain of command, avoidance of fraternization and carrying out lawful orders are key to an effective combat force, yet this provision would require military physicians, nurses and support staff to leave their ethical convictions at the door when they join the military. When a senior officer in the chain of command 'thinks that this should be done,' then that is the same as a direct order to the subordinate. Favors and perks go to those who 'feel' the same as the boss.
"Our military exists to fight our nation's wars, not to be a ideological playground. If this provision stays in the NDAA, it will drive out of the military those who are most likely to serve their nation by going in harm's way."
Action: Contact your senators and urge them to "vote NO on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (DoD) (S.3280) because it contains Sen. Roland Burris' amendment to strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the US Code."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would protect conscience rights

Rep. Smith
The Christian Medical Association today endorsed the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," to be introduced by my friend Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, which will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding.
This bill would make permanent the policies that currently rely on regular re-approval including: the Hyde amendment (prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage under the annual Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act); the Helms amendment (prohibits funding for abortion as a method of family planning overseas); the Smith FEHBP amendment (prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage for federal employees); the Doman amendment(prohibits use of congressionally appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia); other policies such as the restrictions on elective abortion funding through Peace Corp and Federal prisons.
The bill also codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause that is part of the Hyde amendment. The conscience clause ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because the providers do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Physicians can help stop human trafficking

Sec. Napolitano
On July 22, 2010, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano launched the “Blue Campaign”—a DHS-wide initiative to combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, victim assistance programs, and law enforcement training and initiatives.
During a private strategy meeting with Secretary Napolitano's staff following the public launch of this program, I urged federal officials to conduct a campaign to help healthcare professionals recognize the signs of human trafficking. The Christian Medical Association, for example, has helped its membership increase awareness of human trafficking with online resources.
A study of European trafficking victims revealed that 28 percent had visited a healthcare professional during their captivity, yet none had been reported or rescued as a result. That's why it's imperative to get medical professionals on board with recognizing, reporting and aiding in the rehabilitation of trafficking victims.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Abortion advocates push taxpayer funding of military abortions

A bill that recently passed out of a U.S. Senate committee threatens to further tilt federal policy toward the administration's radically pro-abortion viewpoint. Policy experts at the Family Research Council have issued the following summary:
In the Senate Armed Service Committee Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill.) offered an amendment to strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the US Code.  The amendment, which passed by a vote of 15-12, will break with current longstanding policy and permit the performance of abortions in both domestic and overseas military facilities.   Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebr.) was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment.   A similar amendment to allow abortions in overseas military facilities was most recently offered in the House in 2006 when it failed by a vote of 191-237.  The Burris amendment is more expansive than the 2006 amendment because it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.
Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. There is no distinction in this policy between military facilities within the United States and those overseas.  A separate provision prohibits the use of DOD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.
 U.S. Code Title 10 USC Sec 1093 (In  law since 1996)                             
(a) Restriction on Use of Funds – funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
(b) Restriction on Use of Facilities – No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
The Burris amendment will effectively turn our military medical facilities into abortion clinics and force American taxpayers to underwrite the use of military facilities, the procurement of additional equipment, and the use of needed military personnel to perform abortions.  In addition, when President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, all military physicians (as well as many nurses and supporting personnel) refused to perform or assist in elective abortions and in response, the administration sought to hire civilians to do abortions. If the Burris amendment were enacted, not only could taxpayer funded facilities be used to support abortion on demand, but resources could also be used to search for, hire, and transport new personnel simply so that abortions could be performed. 
To speak out on this issue, call Senate offices at (202) 224-3121.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How the new healthcare law can cause you to lose your physician

The partisan healthcare "reform" train has left the station, and patients may soon be realizing their physicians aren't on board. Medicare and Medicaid patients are already feeling the painful impact of the government's squeeze of physicians, and the prognosis for other patients is not good.

My friend Bob Moffit at the Heritage Foundation writes of the impact of Obamacare on physicians:
No class of American professionals will be more negatively impacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act than physicians. Third-party payment arrangements already compromise the independence and integrity of the medical profession; Obamacare  will reinforce the worst of these features.

Physician payments in the major entitlement programs, Medicare  and Medicaid, are already well below the prevailing rates in the private sector. On average, physicians in Medicare are paid 81 percent of private payment; physicians in Medicaid are paid 56 percent of private payment.[2]  Medicare payment has resulted in sporadic access problems for Medicare patients, and the lower Medicaid payments have already contributed to serious access problems for low-income persons and worsened hospital emergency room overcrowding. In a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 67 percent of primary care physicians said that under current conditions new Medicaid enrollees would not be able to find a “suitable primary care physician” in their area.
It's not hard to figure out where this trend will leave patients--searching in vain to find a physician who participates in Medicare and Medicaid. And if slashed physician payments are not enough to nudge physicians out of medicine, the new healthcare law piles on layers of bureacracies that interfere in the patient-physician relationship and further emasculate physicians' decision-making ability. Bob offers three examples:
1.  Under section 6301, Obamacare creates a “non-profit” Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. It will be financed through a trust fund, with initial funding starting at $10 million this year and reaching $150 million annually in fiscal year 2013, with additional revenues from insurance fees. In effect, the institute will be examining clinical effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures, drugs, and medical devices. Much will depend upon how the findings and recommendations will be implemented and any financial incentives, penalties, or regulatory requirements.
2. Under section 3403, there will be an Independent Payment Advisory Board in 2012, with 15 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The board would aim to reduce the per capita growth rate in Medicare spending in accordance with specified targets (based initially on measures of inflation and eventually GDP growth) and make recommendations for slowing growth in non-federal health programs. The board’s recommendations would go into effect unless Congress enacts an alternative proposal. An unprecedented cap on Medicare spending, the process would doubtless reduce Medicare physician payment.
3. Under section 3002, the law extends the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative. While it provides incentives for the quality of care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries, the program is nonetheless burdened with time-consuming compliance and reporting requirements.
What does all this mean to physicians?
Athena Health conducts scientific surveys to determine what physicians think. One of their latest polls, the Physician Sentiment Index, indicates the following troubling indicators:
  • 64% of physicians believe that healthcare decisions are based more on what the payer wants than what is best for the patient. (To feel this impact, imagine you're a cancer patient and the physician prescribes the most effective drug only to be vetoed by the government bureaucracy or insurance company.)

  • 92% of physicians are already frustrated with insurance paperwork. (If you've ever spent a frustrating afternoon at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, imagine doing that every day and you get the drift.)

  • 54% say more government involvement in health care will not help.
  • Only 17% are optimistic about the capability of American physicians to practice independently or in small groups in the future.
What would you do if your job paid less and less, required more and more bureaucratic paperwork, took away your decision-making authority and kept you from helping the people you entered that career to help? Only the most dedicated physicians will persevere in such a climate.
Among those are faith-based physicians, many of whom care for the poor and marginalized. Yet because the same faith that motivates these physicians to care for the poor also motivates them to uphold the sanctity of human life, conscience protections are essential to their continued practice of medicine.
Tragically, the Obama administration has announced plans to get rid of the only federal regulation protecting faith-based physicians from getting forced out of medicine for following moral standards and their consciences. Abortion partisans in Congress blocked attempts to include strong conscience protections in the partisan healthcare law.
So with tens of millions of new patients now slated to be added to the healthcare system under the new law ... with an already acute shortage of primary care physicians ... and with faith-based physicians facing expulsion from medicine for following their consciences, isn't it time to stop this runaway healthcare "reform" train?
After November, a new Congress will have a chance to repeal the healthcare debacle and in its place enact sensible, bipartisan reform that will not only benefit patients but also the physicians who serve them. Vote as if keeping your trusted physician depends on it--because it does.