ObamaCare: Ambushing Senior Citizens

David Freddoso has a good expose of ObamaCare’s ambush of senior citizens at the Washington Examiner. He points out that based on the law as it stands, Medicare recipients will displace Medicaid recipients for the dubious distinction of being at the bottom of the totem pole for health care in 2019.

That’s when the fees Medicare pays to providers will be slashed below Medicaid rates, which are already well below market prices. “And if you’re in a plan that pays the lowest rates, you’re in trouble,” John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, told The Examiner. That’s because the $575 billion cut to Medicare over the next decade — which is needed to pay insurance subsidies for 32 million new people — will force one in seven hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and hospices out of business, according to the formal Medicare trustees report released on April 22. By 2050, 40 percent of existing health care facilities will forced to close their doors.

Senior citizens have become very dependent on government health care in the four decades it has been around. Like all government health care schemes, it leaves a lot to be desired, but they haven’t yet seen how bad it can get depending on the government to take care of your health care needs. Cuts in reimbursement rates are going to put them below Medicaid recipients with regard to preference and priority, and doctors are already reluctant to operate at a loss to treat such patients.

This entire ObamaCare fiasco is going to force more people onto the government system through a variety of negative side-effects of the system, and that will make wait times for care start to resemble those seen in Canada, England and other nations “blessed” with socialist health care. As if foreign examples that socialism never works weren’t enough for us, we have the example of RomneyCare socialist health care in Massachusetts which once again proves what we already knew.

When you consider that quite a few doctors are considering throwing in the towel rather than have to deal with the bureaucratic and financial nightmare of government health care, expect those waiting lists to get even looooooooonger.

As pointed out in the Medicare Trustees Report, we can expect up to 40% of existing health care facilities to close up shop by 2050. With fewer medical resources to go around, and with more and more Americans being forced to go on the dole by their government, what can senior citizens in the near and extended future expect?

Well, they can probably expect an approach toward their health care that is a lot different from what we see today. They can probably expect the government-instituted rationing already seen in socialist countries (and in some areas of the U.S. already).

Unsuspecting Americans might not be aware that elitist socialists have already been hard at work calculating the worth of a human life in purely fiscal terms.  Unsuspecting Americans also might not be aware that one of those formulating such calculations is the brother of President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Dr. Emanuel thinks we already have too much health care going on in America. And that whole Hippocratic Oath thing about protecting and preserving human life?  Don’t take that too seriously.

Consider this article published by the Hastings Center. An even more interesting article by Emanuel was published in the Lancet journal in January 2009. His cold, calculating approach to who lives and dies is downright ghoulish. He looks at and considers the pros/cons of various ways to “prioritize” health care–always, always with the assumption that there isn’t going to be enough to go around for everyone. And while in the real world not everyone earns and builds the same financial resources to be able to purchase the same level of health care, in Emanuel’s world of government health care (and as we’ve seen in socialist systems already), there simply isn’t enough of it to go around.

And guess who gets to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t? You don’t; you don’t get to work harder and earn more to purchase more care. Even an insurance company that you might negotiate with, or another company that you as a consumer might decide to switch to, doesn’t get to decide. Aloof, disconnected, unaccountable government bureaucrats get to decide.

And under the advice of the brother of the president’s chief of staff, their decisions may be based on your “social usefulness.” In other words, if the government bureaucrats don’t consider you “socially useful,” you go to the back of the line for health care. If you don’t do things that service the almighty state and its acolytes, you aren’t considered worth spending the health care resources on.

“Quality adjusted life years” may also factor in. In other words, the number of years you have left to live may be a factor in whether you are prioritized for health care or not. And if the “quality” of your life is deemed to be minimal, you go to the bottom of the list. So if you have a handicap or disability (blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound), the “quality” of your life may be ranked lower than another persons, and you’re bumped to the back of the line. So sorry (well, not really–we’re government bureaucrats, after all; we simply apply the formula to your case number, and out pops your position in the priority list).

Of course, if you’re too young, you aren’t doing the state much good, either. You don’t yet have the strength and work skills to serve the government as well as a healthy adult. Prenatal and neonatal health care?  Why bother, when this “fetus” or pseudo-fetus can contribute absolutely nothing to the state and only consumes valuable resources?  Don’t get too excited when you get pregnant–your new child is a long, long way from being out of the government-controlled woods.

Most of all, we should never forget that in socialist systems, we always continue to have the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Only in a socialist system, you don’t have the same upward mobility based on hard work and ingenuity that you have in a free market system. Government decides who can join the club (i.e. those who play the game and show complete dedication to servicing the Government-god) and who is excluded from the club. And, as we learned in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” “some animals are ‘more equal’ than others.”

Betsy McCaughey at the Wall Street Journal summed up Emanuel’s “Soylent Green,” “Brave New World,” Marxist utilitarian approach to health care very well:

True reform, he argues, must include redefining doctors’ ethical obligations. In the June 18, 2008, issue of JAMA, Dr. Emanuel blames the Hippocratic Oath for the “overuse” of medical care: “Medical school education and post graduate education emphasize thoroughness,” he writes. “This culture is further reinforced by a unique understanding of professional obligations, specifically the Hippocratic Oath’s admonition to ‘use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment’ as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others.”

In numerous writings, Dr. Emanuel chastises physicians for thinking only about their own patient’s needs. He describes it as an intractable problem: “Patients were to receive whatever services they needed, regardless of its cost. Reasoning based on cost has been strenuously resisted; it violated the Hippocratic Oath, was associated with rationing, and derided as putting a price on life. . . . Indeed, many physicians were willing to lie to get patients what they needed from insurance companies that were trying to hold down costs.” (JAMA, May 16, 2007).

Of course, patients hope their doctors will have that single-minded devotion. But Dr. Emanuel believes doctors should serve two masters, the patient and society, and that medical students should be trained “to provide socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” One sign of progress he sees: “the progression in end-of-life care mentality from ‘do everything’ to more palliative care shows that change in physician norms and practices is possible.” (JAMA, June 18, 2008).

“In the next decade every country will face very hard choices about how to allocate scarce medical resources. There is no consensus about what substantive principles should be used to establish priorities for allocations,” he wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 19, 2002. Yet Dr. Emanuel writes at length about who should set the rules, who should get care, and who should be at the back of the line.

That’s a pleasant thought, isn’t it: doctors who are less encumbered by moral and ethical considerations.  How liberating and uplifting…for the state!

Sometimes in the past when socialized health care schemes were discussed, senior citizens were frequently enthusiastic about them.  They envisioned themselves as the recipient of more government largess taken from their fellow Americans for their benefit.

But senior citizens–like Americans of all demographics–have had a crash-course in reality since the 2008 election and have started to wake up.  Last year, when the government health care plan started to roll forward, seniors were smart enough to see that under the current Marxist government, they were not going to be getting more largess, but as illustrated above, would soon be going to the back of the line.  And they didn’t like it one bit.

There is still time to avert this “utopian” socialist nightmare.  But we must throw every one of these socialists possible out of office in November 2010…and again in 2012…and again in 2014.  We will need to work hard to motivate our friends and neighbors to get involved.  We will all need to make some donations (even small ones) to the campaign of candidates who respect our constitution and the American way of life, and we need to volunteer a little of our time to those campaigns to stuff envelopes, answer phones, or distribute campaign literature.

A lot is riding on this election and the next two: our American civilization, and in some cases, our very lives.

HT: National Center for Policy Analysis.

8 Responses to “ObamaCare: Ambushing Senior Citizens”

  1. This is an incredibly misleading and unfair slur on a distinguished oncologist. Dr. Emanuel’s Lancet article was expressly limited to the special case of scarce medical interventions – such as a limited supply of transplant organs or new vaccines where there there are more qualified recipients than there are donors. It says so in the very first sentence of the article. You chose to leave out of your post the fact that his article was limited to organ donations and scarce vaccines. In so doing you mislead Americans seeking clarity about an important topic of current debate. Why did you decide to do that?
    And, by the way, don’t you think it would have been helpful if your readers had known that Dr. Emanuel was one of the leading opponents of assisted suicide. Of course, that would have blown a large hole in your thesis. Better to simply mislead

  2. And in a government health care system, everything becomes scarce. It’s happened time after time after time in socialist systems around the world, and is even starting to happen here in the United States.

    When health care becomes “free” or even low-cost, it becomes tremendously over-used which causes the system to break down because there aren’t enough doctors, medical supplies, etc. to go around.

    Why do you have your head buried so far in the sand that you’re begging to have your rear end shot off? Are you that slavishly devoted to socialism?

  3. It’s like a see-saw…

    When Medicare reimbursements go down, deductibles and co-pays go up.

    Doctors will receive the same amount of money per patient, they’ll just have fewer patients to keep them in business.

    And if the author is correct that shifting just slightly more of the expense onto the patient will slow the industry down to the point that it would force 40% of medical facilities out of business, imagine how many facilities would be forced to close their doors if we got rid of Medicare altogether…

  4. Ezekiel Emanuel is determined to implement socialized medicine in the US even if he has to lie and decieve. And make no mistake, Emanuel IS Obama. They are of one mind and share a vision of America that is very far removed from the America of our founders or even our fathers.

    Emanuel, in a seminal piece titled “The Perfect Storm of Overutilization” in the Journal of the American Medical Association, describes a medical system hopelessly out of control: “The United States spends substantially more per person on health care than any other country, and yet US health outcomes are the same as or worse than those in other coutries.”

    He then provides a chart showing just how poor US helath care outcomes are, depending heavily on infant mortality rates and life expectancy, both of which are considerably poorer in the US than many other countries. What he does not explain is that neither statistic is a very good measure of health care. Both have much more to do with societal factors than health care. Things such as drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, premature births, auto accidents, war, and suicides contribute much more to these figures than does health care.

    The US Medicaid system comes closest to Canadian or British-style socialized medicine, yet both infant mortality and life expectancy are poorer in this group than in any other groups of Americans. How can that be? (Hint: it has little to do with health care.)

    Dr. Emanuel does not explain the facts of infant mortality and life expectancy in his article. It would not advance his agenda. His agenda is that of the liberal elite who believe that a perfect world is attainable if only they have the power to control the common people like you and me. They are not the first humans to suffer that delusion. History has seen many come and go, usually leaving piles of rotting corpses in their wake. This time will be different. They just KNOW that they can do it right.

  5. “Doctors will receive the same amount of money per patient, they’ll just have fewer patients to keep them in business.”

    That is not true, prerad. We just had a 24% reduction in Medicare reimbursement with no increase in co-pays or deductibles. Co-pays under part B are 20% of *approved* amount. The *approved* amount was reduced by 24% thus so were the co-pays.

    We are mandated to accept what the government says we are worth, even if the cost of providing the service exceeds the pay recieved. That’s why more and more doctors are opting out of Medicare and Medicaid. In many areas of the country Medicare recipients are having a very difficult time finding a primary care doctor, so more and more are using ERs that can’t turn them away.

  6. Bravo, Dr. Theo. Well said!

  7. You completely misunderstand. ObamaCare isn’t shifting more expense onto the patient. It is doing a number of things that will completely topple the current system and (unless we wake up and pull our heads out completely) push us onto a complete and total government health care system. The reduced Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements will push more health care providers out of the business, the increased costs to the overall health care system that ObamaCare is causing (the opposite of what was advertised) will push up premiums, the incentives for employers to dump health care coverage for employees altogether will push more people onto the government system, etc.

    This is a partial-government health care system that was engineered to fail, it was engineered to make things worse so that the American people would better acquiesce to ushering in a fully socialized health care system under the auspices of “do something, do ANYTHING” hysteria.

    We have to head off at the pass these socialist architects of the destruction of the American way…and point our system back to constitutional government and the free market solutions that made us the greatest nation on earth.