Gingrich, Republicans Complicit In Obama Health Care Restructuring
Dr. Jane Orient has been warning us for over two decades about the bipartisan push toward a nationalized healthcare system. The Tucson physician has been in private practice since 1981 and executive president of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons since 1989. She has written several books including Your Doctor Is Not In: healthy skepticism about national health care in 1994.
Orient dates our present trite meme "ObamaCare" back to the Clinton era when Republicans, led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, "turned around and implemented on their own some of the very worst features of the Clinton plan." In a candid op ed, she writes:
Newt Gingrich and other Republicans promise to repeal ObamaCare, but doctors remember what they did in 1996. Just after they "defeated" ClintonCare, they changed its name and enacted the very worst parts of it.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) started out as a short act to improve "COBRA" coverage that allows workers to extend employer-sponsored insurance for a time after changing jobs. But about 300 pages mysteriously appeared, grafted onto this supposedly insignificant bill.
Republicans evidently don't read the bills either. They appeared to be shocked when I called this addendum to their attention, and its remarkable similarity to parts of the Clinton plan. In fact, parts were practically a verbatim "cut and paste."
One portion amounts to the criminalization of medicine with huge penalties -- fines and even long prison terms -- for minor coding errors that used to be considered billing disputes. Hundreds of millions of dollars were shoveled into federal enforcement programs, which often seem to be entrapment programs. There's a giant new cottage "compliance" industry adding to the costs and hassles of Medicare.
Another part of HIPAA is the "Privacy" Rule, which is really a disclosure rule. This creates all kinds of vexing rules that hinder patient care... it authorizes disclosure to hundreds of other entities, including insurers or government agencies, without patient consent.
Dr. Orient warns against those whose extremist views espouse a unified medical organization, much like the old Soviet Union's polyclinics where patient care meant a "complete integration between medicine on its medical and medicine on its social side." Orient cites the push for a centralized database of claims and patient records through laws like the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("Stimulus" Act) of 2009, as one way to implement a top-down State-controlled, fully integrated healthcare system.
None other than Newt Gingrich, sounding like a bona fide Chicken Little leftist, has been one of the leading proponents of a rapid reformulation of the nation's health information infrastructure. In 2004 Gingrich went before the House Government Reform Technology Subcommittee and sounded the alarm.
"Paper prescriptions kill. Paper records kill. And if there's a public health emergency, paper will kill a lot of people," he said.
Gingrich also suggested the country needs to create "a virtual public health service" that connects every health facility nationwide. "In the case of a major nuclear event, he said, officials would need to mobilize every nursing home and long-term care facility as well as every veterinarian's office, 'because all the downtown hospitals will be gone.'"
The former Republican Speaker of the House sounds more like Dr. Donald Berwick [outgoing director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] than free market conservatives like Dr. Orient who stated in an interview ObamaCare "will destroy private medicine if it's allowed to proceed." In his 1996 book entitled New Rules Berwick condensed his philosophy into a few sentences:
Today, this isolated relationship [between doctor and patient] is no longer tenable or possible. . . Traditional medical ethics, based on the doctor-patient dyad, must be reformulated to fit the new mold of the delivery of health care. . . The primary function of regulation in health care. . .is to constrain decentralized individualized decision making.
In other words, the radical CMS director's plan was to annihilate the autonomous doctor-patient relationship through a process of integration of medical services by way of a centralized data base. Berwick, who has been at the helm of transforming our healthcare since the 1980's, has had a lot of help from so-called conservatives like Gingrich along the way. Dr. Orient summed up this perverted complicity a few days ago.
Republicans need to remember that government is the problem, not the solution. We have had a bipartisan march toward government control of medicine. The answer is not Clinton-Lite or Obama-Lite, but rather a return of the power to make medical decisions to patients and physicians.
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report