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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.
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."

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