Patients’ Rights Trampled By ObamaCare

March 23, 2011

Democrats’ Healthcare Law Will Worsen Doctor Shortage, Restrict Insurance Choices and Reduce Quality of Care


On the first anniversary of Democrats’ job-destroying healthcare law, many of the law’s supporters are making the rounds to tout the law’s benefits, holding Wednesday events to falsely claim that the law strengthens “patients’ rights”:


“The Center for American Progress will announce today that the events – with such sponsors as AFSCME, SEIU and U.S. PIRG — include ‘small business roundtables/workshops, seniors’ town hall meetings, young adult information sessions, press conferences with Members of Congress and Administration officials … An online campaign featuring videos of real Americans benefitting from the law will complement the grassroots activities. … [T]argeted radio advertising … and social-media advertising … will also be launched…’

“–EVENT THEMESWednesday, “Moving Forward, Protecting Patients Rights’” (Mike Allen, “Health Reform Turns 1: White House Allies Plan Week-Long Blitz, ‘Moving Forward’”, Politico Playbook, 3/17/2011)


What they won’t tell you is that ObamaCare is a disaster for patient rights, limiting access to a doctor by exacerbating the nation’s doctor shortage, restricting patient choices and reducing the quality of care overall.


The U.S. faced a doctor shortage before ObamaCare passed, but the law’s expansion of government programs while forcing doctors out of the profession is poised to make it far worse. The result will be longer wait times and fewer choices for patients:


OBAMACARE TO WORSEN DOCTOR SHORTAGE BY 50 PERCENT: The U.S. healthcare reform law will worsen a shortage of physicians as millions of newly insured patients seek care, the Association of American Medical Colleges said on Thursday.


“The group’s Center for Workforce Studies released new estimates that showed shortages would be 50 percent worse in 2015 than forecast.


“ ‘While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025,’ the group said in a statement.” (Peter Cooney, “Health Reform To Worsen Doctor Shortage: Group,” Reuters, 9/30/2010)


STATES IN SOUTH AND THE WEST TO FACE WORST DOCTOR SHORTAGES:“States in the South and Mountain West, which traditionally have the lowest rates of primary care physicians, could struggle to provide medical services to the surge of new patients expected to enroll in Medicaid under the health overhaul and federal incentives may not provide much help, according to a report issued today by a Washington health research group.” (Jessica Marcy, “Doctor Shortages Under Health Law May Depend On Geography,” Kaiser Health News, 3/17/2011)


MANY DOCTORS TO LEAVE THE PROFESSION DUE TO OBAMACARE: “Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found…


Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they ‘would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement’ if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.” (Terry Jones, “45% of Doctors Would Consider Quitting if Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul,” Investor’s Business Daily, 9/15/2009)


EMERGENCY ROOM WAIT TIMES TO INCREASE AS A RESULT: “The new healthcare law will pack 32 million newly insured people into emergency rooms already crammed beyond capacity, according to experts on healthcare facilities


“ ‘Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years,’ said Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, which designs healthcare facilities.


“ ‘We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less,’ he said.” (Jay Heflin, “Health Reform Threatens to Cram Already Overwhelmed Emergency Rooms,” The Hill, 5/15/2010)


Americans got a taste of the rationing that may be yet to come from ObamaCare as Obama’s FDA denied the approval of a breast cancer drug on the grounds that it did not provide a “sufficient benefit” to patients:


“The FDA has reversed its approval of a widely used cancer drug approved in Europe to treat breast cancer on the grounds it doesn’t provide a ‘sufficient’ benefit. Let the terminally ill and their doctors decide.


“One of the blessings of blocking the omnibus spending bill was that it included $1 billion for the implementation of ObamaCare.


“Yet the first effects are still being felt, the latest being the Food and Drug Administration’s revoking of regulatory approval of Avastin to treat late-stage breast cancer…


“The annual cost, however, is a staggering $88,000 annually, and under ObamaCare cost trumps medical care. A prime decision is whether extending your life is worth the cost.” (Editorial Board, “ObamaCare Rationing Begins,” Investor’s Business Daily, 12/22/2010)


Patients won’t just face fewer choices among doctors as a result of the law—many have already been forced to change insurance policies, as small insurers collapse due to how ObamaCare tilts the playing field in favor in big insurance companies:


CONSUMERS FORCED TO CHANGE INSURANCE POLICIES: “The Principal Financial Group announced on Thursday that it planned to stop selling health insurance, another sign of upheaval emerging among insurers as the new federal health law starts to take effect.


“The company, based in Iowa, provides coverage to about 840,000 people who receive their insurance through an employer.” (Reed Abelson, “Insurer Cuts Health Plans as New Law Takes Hold,” The New York Times, 9/30/2010)


SMALL INSURANCE PROVIDERS COLLAPSING DUE TO OBAMACARE:“Principal’s decision closely tracks moves by other insurers that have indicated in recent weeks that they plan to drop out of certain segments of the market, like the business of selling child-only policies. State regulators say some insurance companies are already threatening to leave particular markets because of the new law….


“ ‘It’s just going to drive the little guys out,’ said Robert Laszewski, a health policy consultant in Alexandria, Va. Smaller players like Principal in states like Iowa, Missouri and elsewhere will not be able to compete because they do not have the resources and economies of scale of players like UnitedHealth, which is among the nation’s largest health insurers.


“Mr. Laszewski is worried that the ensuing concentration is likely to lead to higher prices because large players will no longer face the competition from the smaller plans. ‘It’s just the UnitedHealthcare full employment act,’ he said.”(Reed Abelson, “Insurer Cuts Health Plans as New Law Takes Hold,” The New York Times, 9/30/2010)


INSURANCE PROVIDERS CONSOLIDATING TO PROTECT AGAINST “POLITICAL RISK,” REDUCING COMPETITION AND CHOICE: “ObamaCare’s once and future harms have been well chronicled, but the major effects so far are less obvious and arguably more important: A wave of consolidation is washing over the health markets, and the result is going to be higher costs.


“The turn toward consolidation among insurance companies is not new, and neither is it among doctors, hospitals and other providers. Yet the health bill has accelerated these trends, as all sides race to anticipate and manage political risk and regulatory uncertainty. This dynamic is leading to much larger hospital systems and physician groups, and fewer insurers dominated by a handful of national conglomerates. ObamaCare was sold using the language of choice and competition, but it is actually reducing both.” (Editorial Board, “Big Insurance, Big Medicine,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/2010)


Yet others are seeing their coverage dropped as ObamaCare raises costs for employers:


MORE THAN 25 PERCENT OF COMPANIES TO DROP COVERAGE FOR RETIREES:More than one-quarter of companies plan to discontinue retiree medical sponsorship in 2012 for at least one segment of current and/or future retirees (Figure 22).” (“16th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care,” Towers Watson, March 2011)


3M ELIMINATING HEALTH PLANS FOR SENIORS: “3M Co. confirmed it would eventually stop offering its health-insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.” (Janet Adamy, “3M to Change Health-Plan Options for Workers,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/4/2010)


MEDICARE SCOREKEEPER SAYS OBAMA STATEMENT NOT TRUE: The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates.” (“Medicare Official Doubts Health Law Savings,” Associated Press, 1/26/2011)


On top of that, ObamaCare creates a legal mandate to purchase health insurance, a provision which has been repeatedly deemed unconstitutional by federal courts for exceeding “the constitutional boundaries of congressional power”:


“At the heart of the states’ lawsuit is the individual mandate, which requires everyone to purchase health insurance or be penalized for not doing so. ‘Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States,’ Judge Vinson writes.” (Editorial Board, “The Constitutional Moment,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/1/2011)


“District Judge Henry Hudson struck down the heart of the Obama administration’s health reform law Monday, ruling that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.


The mandate ‘exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power,’ Hudson wrote in his decision.” (Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah Kliff, “Health Law Ruling Only the Beginning,” Politico,12/14/2010)


Yet Democrats continue to parrot the absurd claim that their unconstitutional law somehow defends patients’ rights. When will Democrats recognize that if two years of one-party control and unadulterated spin couldn’t convince the American people of the virtues of ObamaCare, maybe it’s time to undo it?:


RASMUSSEN SHOWS 53 PERCENT WANT LAW REPEALED: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of Likely Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the new health care law, including 43% who Strongly Favor it.  Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal, with 27% who are Strongly Opposed.” (“Health Care Law,” Rasmussen Reports, 3/21/2011)


GALLUP: PLURALITY EXPECTS LAW TO WORSEN HEALTHCARE: “Opinions on the impact of the healthcare law on medical care in the U.S. are divided in similar fashion to Americans’ overall reactions to the bill: 39% say it will improve medical care in the United States, while 44% say it will make it worse. Small percentages say the law won’t change anything or offer no opinion. These responses are roughly similar to attitudes seen in July 2009, as the outlines of the law were just coming into place.” (Frank Newport, “One Year Later, Americans Split on Healthcare Law,” Gallup, 3/21/2011)