Saturday, July 10, 2010

Different Perspectives on Obamacare

Yesterday, I listened to Ezekial Rahm, MD, senior medical advisor to Obama, expound on the benefits of Obamacare in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC news. Obama’s health plan, Ezekial said, will lift quality, expand coverage, and serve doctors and the public well.

If that were so, said Andrea, why are so many doctors saying they will opt out of Medicare and why is the public not convinced.

Well, said Ezekial, claims that doctors will opt out of Medicare are wildly exaggerated and so is public resistance.

Well, maybe so, but in Texas in 2008, 42 percent of Texas doctors participating in the survey said they were no longer accepting all new Medicare patients. Among Texas primary-care doctors, the percentage was 62 percent.

These numbers in Texas, as elsewhere, will grow unless Congress bites the bullet and institutes some long-term payment plan for paying doctors, in place of the current Sustainable Growth Rate monstrosity formula which this year calls for a 21% cut and next year 25% slash.

As for the public, a July 5 Rasmussen poll of likely voters indicates the following approval/disapproval ratings on the new health care law: for/favor + 36%, opposed/against +60%, spread for/opposed -24%. Now, it may be Rasmussen polls favor the GOP, but nevertheless it is clear that the $125 million Obama charm offensive, through Ezekial, his brother, and other supporters, to sell Obamacare isn’t working very well. More work on the Democratic side will have to be done to sway the public before the November 2 election.

In his TV interview, Doctor Rahm admits the new law will be “complicated” to implement. With Obamacare, “complicated” is the Mother of all euphemisms.
This law is so “complicated” it will take ten years to put into place, will cost over $1 trillion, will raise costs of drugs, medical devices, health plans, and medical services, will require over 150 new government agencies and 1600 IRS agents to assure compliance; will compel doctors to install money-losing electronic medical records, and will bewilder consumers with its good, bad, and ugly mix or rules and regulations.

From one perspective, Obamacare's benefits are understated and under-appreciated; from the other perspective, its liabilities are underrated and under-appreciated.

What is needed is a middle-of-the-road perspective of what this reform is all about.