August 9, 2010
The Deadly Pact: How ObamaCare will 'Save' Money
Andy Griffith, the former TV Sheriff of Mayberry and guardian of small town America, is now the national spokesman for ObamaCare. More specifically, this venerable gentleman is the spokesman for the new Medicare. Apparently Griffith is under the naïve belief that ObamaCare is a genuinely good thing for seniors. As much as it pains me to say this, Griffith is dead wrong. ObamaCare is a fatal bargain for seniors, and all Americans.
Although media reports covering ObamaCare have centered mainly on the health insurance mandate and hidden tax increases, the real danger of ObamaCare lies in the official sanction of "mercy death" for America's seniors as a means of reducing federal medical outlays. No, ObamaCare doesn't say this outright. It simply limits hospital readmissions for those using Medicare, thereafter automatically committing said Medicare recipients to hospice facilities, called "community-based care." Consider the following from Section 3025:
IN GENERAL.-With respect to payment for discharges from an applicable hospital (as defined in paragraph (5)(C)) occurring during a fiscal year beginning on or after October1, 2012, in order to account for excess readmissions in the hospital, the Secretary shall reduce the payments that would otherwise be made to such hospital....
ObamaCare defines "readmission" as
... the case of an individual who is discharged from an applicable hospital, the admission of the individual to the same or another applicable hospital within a time period specified by the Secretary from the date of such discharge.
In essence, this ominous provision caps hospital visits, the reason being irrelevant. Government bureaucrats will now decide when patients have seen the doctor enough. Such a proposition is ludicrous, not to mention impossible to quantify.
Nevertheless, when patients reach their maximum number of readmissions, they are to be placed in the "community-based care transitions program," under the direct control of the Health Secretary:
IN GENERAL.-The Secretary shall establish a Community-Based Care Transitions Program under which the Secretary provides funding to eligible entities that furnish improved care transition services to high-risk Medicare beneficiaries...HIGH-RISK MEDICARE BENEFICIARY.-The term ‘‘high-riskMedicare beneficiary'' means a Medicare beneficiary who has attained a minimum hierarchical condition category score, as determined by the Secretary, based on a diagnosis of multiple chronic conditions or other risk factors associated with a hospital readmission or substandard transition into post-hospitalization care, which may include 1 or more of the following:(A) Cognitive impairment.(B) Depression.(C) A history of multiple readmissions.(D) Any other chronic disease or risk factor as determined by the Secretary.
To clarify, the above provision gives the Health Secretary the discretion to remove life-extending treatment from the reach of seniors and place them in state wards for the purposes of making the "transition" to death as painless as possible. This "transition" can be activated for virtually any reason, including "a history of multiple readmissions" or "risk factor." Both of these qualifiers describe more than half the country, making this provision a transparent attempt by government to cut costs by forcibly cutting lives short.
The above provisions read like a page right out of science fiction. Movies like Soylent Green and Logan's Run have become the new reality. The popular chase scene where Logan flees state authorities, having reached the state-imposed age limit of thirty years, serves as a metaphor for present policy. Patients are told to "go home" and accept death instead of pursuing life-extending treatment. But should government decide when that is? If consulting the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, then the answer is yes:
Paragraph (1) shall not be construed as preventing the Secretary from using evidence or findings from such comparative clinical effectiveness research in determining coverage, reimbursement, or incentive programs under title XVIII based upon a comparison of the difference in the effectiveness of alternative treatments in extending an individual's life due to the individual's age, disability, or terminal illness.
Furthermore, under Section 6301, ObamaCare permits the Health Secretary to disallow treatments or coverage that is not considered "reasonable or necessary." This determination will be made on the basis of reports produced by the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, scheduled to replace the current Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.
When combined with the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB), which will decide how to apply $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, a gloomy picture arises, whereby to count nickels and dimes, the federal government will engage in the wanton destruction of human life. Why is it that the only time government gets serious about the deficit is when it harms Americans?
IMAB will succeed in reducing Medicare outlays be promoting "prevention and wellness." In other words, don't get sick. The new Health Care Czar Donald Berwick also pledges to eliminate patient and doctor "choice" as an "engine of change." Additionally, Medicare will now only support "evidence-based" treatments under Section 3403 -- no government dollars for miracles. This is similar to Obama's pledge to rid the United States of "unproven" missile defense technology despite an 80-percent success rating.
Like the "transitions" program, cuts in basic treatments will translate into premature death for many Medicare recipients. But if the World Health Organization (WHO) is to be believed, this is a good thing, since death reduces medical "inequality." It is for this reason that the WHO ranks the U.K. 18th place, above the USA at 37th, in quality care. The British NHS has engaged in willful starvation of patients, has 20 percent more trauma deaths than the United States every year, and has 30,000 deaths due to medical mistakes annually. These mistakes range from patients receiving the wrong pair of lungs during a lung transplant to patients having the wrong testicle removed. At least the care is "equal," whatever that means.
The respected Canadian Fraser Institute estimates that in 2009, over 40,000 Canadians left Canada to receive non-emergency medical treatment, and another study by the Fraser Institute revealed that on average, Canadians would do better having coronary bypass surgery in the States, and not in Canada. And despite the fact that Canada is now spending 41 percent more per person than in 1993, waiting periods are still 73 percent longer than in 1993. Still want "equal" care?
Bottom line: Government should not be deciding where and when to end someone's life. And yet this is the inevitable result of government-funded medical care. At some point, government will cut corners to "save" money. Holland has made involuntary euthanasia near official practice. Are we really going to pretend that if government could improve the budget by denying treatment, it wouldn't?
That is why market-based health care, although riddled with problems, must remain the standard in the practice of medicine. Individuals should make medical decisions and expend their resources in seeking whatever treatment they believe is necessary. If health care becomes a right instead of a privilege that improves with hard work and increased earning power, government will decide when to pull the plug. And that is not an America to which anyone should consent.