A recent report (online, Mar .23 – Kimberly Leonard) in U.S. News and World Report cites a Quest Diagnostics study. It may leave some wondering if what is described is correlation, or mere coincidence? The U.S. News and World Report article says, “states that chose to expand Medicaid for low-income Americans under President Barack Obama’s health care law have seen a surge in diabetes diagnoses, a new study shows, particularly during the disease’s earlier stages when changes in lifestyle can have a significant impact on a person’s later health.”
The U.S. News and World Report account further clarifies that the Quest Diagnostic findings show, “newly identified diabetes cases among Medicaid-enrolled patients jumped 23 percent in states that expanded the program, but increased by less than 1 percent – 0.4 percent – in states that did not.”
Without adequate health insurance of any kind, nor the ability to pay for it, it is probable individuals put off getting medical assistance until symptoms of their Diabetes worsen. Dr. Robert Ratner, who is the Chief Scientific and Medical Officer for the American Diabetes Association is quoted by Leonard’s report as saying, “Really, [the study] is telling us the primary reasons why we are not making the diagnosis: It’s access to care and coverage for care.”
How do you measure success or failure of a government program? Is it by how many people it helps? Is it by its costs; or savings – that is, if there are any? Or, do other standards exist by which to judge its overall effectiveness? In the case of Obamacare, the only indicators mattering to many in need of healthcare is just how much money it has (or has not) paid out; and how much medical treatment it has dispensed.
According to a report in Human Events (online, Mar. 23, by Justin Haskins) an appreciable number of physicians are refusing both Medicaid and Medicare patients. The reason? Federal government levels of “reimbursement rates” (Human Events) are not sufficiently high enough for doctors to make the effort in this regard worthwhile. Yet, what this does is give the stark appearance that doctors (as a group) act harshly against patients.
Haskins’s Human Events report adds, “It may seem counterintuitive to some since doctors spend their whole lives healing sick people, including many sick and poor people, but the reality is that doctors actually make easy political targets for the Democrat machine.”
Another component in the care versus cost conundrum (the Human Events report outlines) is that “[M]ost doctors are not politically active and are poorly represented in government.” Only 17 serve in Congress, for example, who are actually physicians.
Haskins further explains, doctors who are “specialists” are convenient targets. Their annual earnings easily place them in the “1 percent.” Thus, they are lumped in with that more affluent segment of the population comparatively recently demonized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
A number of hospitals concentrated in the American South have closed their doors or are facing closure. Such hospitals are also found in more rural areas. According to a new report in World Net Daily (Mar. 22, online by Paul Bremmer) a noted physician who has authored a book about the healthcare crisis in the United States believes the closure of these hospitals is actually part of an overall Obamacare scheme. Bremmer’s report quotes Dr. Lee Hieb, former president of The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons as saying, “I think that’s what the ACA was really designed to bring about.” Hieb continues, “You can say it’s an unintended consequence. I’m not sure; I think it’s an intended consequence.” Dr. Hieb also believes that pro-Obamacare forces want a thoroughly concentrated healthcare system which (as she sees it) ultimately means a decrease in the number of rural hospitals and their accompanying specialized healthcare providers.
Also, according to the World Net Daily report, rural hospitals are more likely to close to because of their tendency to serve that segment of society which is elderly and impoverished. Translation? They treat an increased number of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Dr. Lee Hieb is the author of “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.”
Holly Wade is Research Director for The National Federation of Independent Business’s Research. Recently, according to a recent report in Reason by J.D. Tuccille (online, Mar. 23) Wade testified before the Senate Finance Committee. Regarding Obamacare’s effects on U.S. small business, she said, “The problems that many predicted have arrived but most of the promises for small business owners remain unfulfilled. We found that 62 percent of small business owners are paying higher premiums while only eight percent say their costs have dropped.”
Tuccille’s Reason account also cites the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Philadelphia who have found the following after receiving reports from small businesses in their locales:
Getting your math wrong can result not only in stern correction, but ridicule as well. This is more likely to happen if you are a member of Congress. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Tex., is now bearing the brunt of such chastising. He recently claimed that Obamacare will cost each individual in the United States $5 million per person.
According to a report in The Hill (online, by Cristina Marcos – Mar. 24) “Sessions then suggested that one could calculate the cost of Obamacare per person by dividing $108 billion by 12million, an estimate of the number of people receiving insurance through the healthcare law.” The $12million number coming from Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.
A salient question remains. Just how did Sessions come up with that number? Sessions had previously relied on, according to the Hill, “an overall estimate from House budget committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., that Obamacare will cost $108 billion, though he acknowledged it was not exact.”
For her part, Slaughter is quoted by the Hill as saying, “Nobody ever paid $5 million for anybody’s healthcare in a single year. It’s the most atrocious thing I think I’ve heard on this floor.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no stranger to controversy when it comes to both historic and contemporary events. His compelling opinions even cover the subject of healthcare. According to Politico.com (per an online article by Nick Gass, Mar. 19) it is he (Erdogan), not President Barack Obama, who first conceived the idea for what is now famously known in the U.S. as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Erdogan further claims that others – and not solely Barack Obama – have come to him for advice on the implementation of nationwide healthcare systems for their respective countries. The Turkish president brags “that European officials have come to study its (Turkey’s) health care system.” Erdogan also says, “They try to take us as a model and build similar systems in their country. Don’t we have any deficiencies? We do, but now we are on the right path to success,” this also is according to Gass’s Politico story.
Yet Politico also says the U.S. State Department cautions that the level and quality of healthcare in Turkey “varies greatly.” For example, conceivably, Ankara and Istanbul may come to mind as metropolitan areas with up to date medical tech, while smaller cities and towns in Turkey likely constantly grapple with more advanced forms of medical treatments.
Republicans are set to begin another phase of their efforts geared toward countering what they view as “a complicated and meddlesome government expansion.” This is their description is of the Affordable Care Act. According to a recent report in The Hill (Peter Sullivan, online, Mar. 14) also alludes to heightened resentment on the part of conservatives following the “tax error” over Obamacare. At that time, according to Sullivan, “Republicans pounced.” The Hill report quotes Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who said, “The Obama administration has built a healthcare law so complex, so confusing, and so costly that even they don’t know how to properly administer it.”
Conversely, during a recent (conference) call with the press, on Mar. 13, officials from the Obama administration described the current enrollment time frame as one which is “part of an effort to help familiarize people with the new system of taxes linked to health insurance — and a tax penalty if they aren’t covered.” This is all part of a joint Obama White House-health reformers’ effort to enroll people for the ACA, and is for a limited time only. It is also described as the “special enrollment period,” running from this coming Sunday, to April 30, 2015.
The Hill report continues, adding, “The administration announced the period just four weeks ago, on Feb. 20, under pressure from congressional Democrats and advocates. Congressional Republicans have been portraying Obamacare as a burden during tax season, and they will be on the lookout for any slip-ups. The GOP has already seized on an error that resulted in 800,000 people on Obamacare plans being sent the wrong tax information.”
Sullivan’s Hill report also cites a recent McKinsey and Company research poll, which recently found that 40 percent of those without health insurance are unaware of the IRS penalty for not having it.
Premera is a health insurer offering ACA-complaint plans to health care consumers. Questions may now emerge as to how safe the information those same consumers provide to health insurance companies really is. A Reuters story posted to the Huffington Post Website (online, Mar. 17) provides details about health insurer Premera Blue Cross’ experience with 21st century online reality. On Tues. Mar. 17, it was cyberattacked. The possible to probable results are almost predictable. The incident may have laid bare medically-oriented information of some 11 million of their covered health insurance consumers.
Premera counts among its customers some 6 million persons in Washington state. Of those, are employees of Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks – according to the Reuters account in the Huffington Post, which adds, “The rest are scattered across every U.S. state.”
Premera has said the cyber-intruders may now have “claims data, including clinical information, along with banking account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other data in an attack that began in May 2014.”
Obamacare remains a story of both the insured and uninsured in the U.S. For the insured in Colorado the drama of actually being without coverage may begin soon. A recent story in The Washington Times by Valerie Richardson (online, Mar. 14) says, “More than 340,000 Coloradans have seen their policies cancelled since the glitch-ridden Obamacare rollout of 2013. The cancellations dogged Democrats in the 2014 election, contributing to the defeat of former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. . . . ” Now it seems that some 190,000 Coloradans be forced to go without health insurance coverage because their current policies do not comply with provisions of Obamacare. For his part, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., he has let it be known “he has a personal stake in the issue,” and thus was recently quoted by The Washington Times as having said to 9News, “President Obama lied to the American people when he said ‘if you like your plan you can keep your plan’ and now Colorado Families are being forced to bear the burden of that lie.”
Those adversely impacted in the Centennial State have only 90 days to switch healthcare coverages.
A recent report in the Daily Caller (online, 3/16 – citing Reuters) claims the Obama White House maintains it does not have Plan B – in the event the U.S. Supreme Court restricts Affordable Care Act subsidies to only the state-based health insurance marketplaces. Yet, The Daily Caller report also cites noted healthcare critic Avik Roy who (in Forbes) says the Obama Administration intends to request the 37 states potentially impacted by an adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision to “declare that they do have exchanges and have merely contracted out their management to the Department of Health and Human Services.” President Obama says there is no alternate ACA option on the table. “If they rule against us, we’ll have to take a look at what our options are, but I’m not going to anticipate that,” (Reuters). HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell additionally denies the existence of a “contingency plan,” according to the Daily Caller, whose report also adds, “Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts pressed her (Burwell) during a February House hearing about the allied existence of a 100-page document which laying out options if the court ruled against them, but Burwell said she wasn’t aware of it.”