Unequal Protection Under the Health Care Law
One of life's minor annoyances occurs when someone receives preferential treatment because of his wealth or perceived power. Many people have experienced this firsthand when a "VIP" comes into a restaurant and jumps ahead while they've been waiting for a table. This offends most Americans because it is contrary to our sense of fair play. It divides people into elites and everyone else.
This is where we are heading with health care. Don't think so? Well, on October 11, 2011, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) declared that PSA screening for prostate cancer in healthy men was no longer recommended. No urologists -- the acknowledged experts in the treatment of prostate cancer -- were involved in this decision. During the time that PSA screening has been available, prostate cancer deaths have steadily declined. Then why have these recommendations been issued? Because in a top-down, government-controlled health care system, dollars need to be trimmed and patients cannot get everything that they want, even when it means screening for cancer. Patients have no say over their health care, and the government decides where health care dollars are allocated -- perhaps instead to Planned Parenthood for abortions. Incidentally, President Obama underwent PSA screening several months ago.
During the contentious debates over the Affordable Care Act, the SEIU and other unions which were staunch Obama allies spent tens of millions of dollars to produce marketing campaigns in support of passage of the bill. As Nancy Pelosi has so ineloquently stated, "we need to pass the bill to find out what is in it." And once we did and learned how much it was going to cost, these devoted supporters discovered that they couldn't afford ObamaCare and flooded the Department of Health and Human Services with a tsunami of requests to exempt them from the new law. To date, 1,231 waivers have been granted as political favors, many to the very groups who were instrumental in getting the law passed. This includes 38 waivers granted in a single day in Nancy Pelosi's district -- many to fancy nightclubs, swank hotels, and expensive restaurants which advertise $59 Porterhouse steaks.
If ObamaCare stands, and once fully implemented in 2014, ordinary men will no longer receive PSA screening; women will no longer receive routine mammography looking for breast cancer (a 2010 USPSTF recommendation); and soon these government restrictions on cancer screening will likely extend to colonoscopy, as occurs in several Canadian provinces, where routine screening is no longer offered. Seniors will wait longer for life-saving procedures like dialysis, heart surgery, or chemotherapy. Surgeries that improve quality of life like joint replacement will be denied outright. How can this not be the case when ObamaCare raids Medicare and steals $500 billion from it to be redistributed elsewhere?
Currently, the federal government pays for over 50% of the health care delivered in America. If Progressives like Obama get their way, we will move to a single-payer, government-run health care system. This of course matters little to people like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, who have the power to circumvent the intrusive laws that they are responsible for getting passed. For those who cannot get needed health care from the government but can afford to go elsewhere for it, they will do what Newfoundland premier Danny Williams did in 2010, when he came to Miami for heart surgery because it was unavailable to him in the government-run Canadian medical system.
It is not surprising that during President Obama's State of the Union address, there was no mention of the Affordable Care Act -- the singular "accomplishment" of his presidency. Obama wants to avoid bringing health care back into the public arena during this election season, knowing that only 25% of Americans believe that their health care will be better under ObamaCare, according to a recent Kaiser Foundation survey. This is a number similar to the 77% of physicians who want to see ObamaCare repealed. Instead, Obama will rely on the strategy of economic class warfare, pitting the 99-percenters against the so-called rich. What the president and his minions shamelessly engage in is another type of class warfare -- those who must comply with the laws and those who are above them. Health care should never be the currency that the powerful get to trade in.
Dr. Hal Scherz is the founder and president of Docs4PatientCare, an organization of concerned physicians committed to the establishment of a health care system that preserves the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.