Monday, March 7, 2011

Health Reform: Are the Political Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

March 7, 2011- My reading today includes the Washington Report, a non-partisan insider report, produced by The Physicians Foundation, and the Wall Street Journal, which gives its usual unabashed conservative view.

The Washington Report, written by Lee Stillwell, a long-time friend of physicians, says Congress now has the votes to oust Dr. Donald Berwick, as CMS administrator.

Dr.Berwick champions Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a means of compelling hospitals and doctors to work together under fixed budgets to provide care for Medicare recipients; setting up insurance exchanges to cover care for millions of Americans; and enforcing regulations to reward quality rather than volume.

Stillwell notes, however, the most “significant development” this week came when U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson gave the Obama administration a bare seven days to file an appeal to his ruling that the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate makes the entire health care law “void.”

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece , “ObamaCare’s March Madness, “ by Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, Alex Cortes, executive director of Let Freedom Ring, and Heather Higgins, president amd CEO of the Independent Women's Voice, flatly states that a series of events contributes to the “madness” of the health reform law.

• 28 states “and counting “ challenging the law in court.

• Nearly 1000 waivers allowing politically-favored states, companies. And unions to “escape” Obamacare regulations.

• Exploding premiums as insurance companies seek to minimize the expenses of new regulations.

• Seniors losing access to doctors, as many as 40% physicians cease seeing Medicare patients to avoid bankruptcies.

• Companies exiting markets for individuals, small groups, and Medical Advantage plans.

Like many Americans, I like President Obama ( Real Clear Politics poll averages indicate 2.2% more Americans approve than disapprove of his performance). He is personable, intelligent, eloquent, and has an attractive family.

But I dislike the health law of Obama and the Democrats (Poll averages show 11.8% more Americans are “against” rather than “for” the new law).

As I observe in my upcoming book Good Intentions: A Health Reform Handbook: Intended and Unintended Consequences, the political chickens may be coming home to roost.

Congress and the American people are wary of Dr. Berwick because of overt past statements approving centralized command and control health care policies and his overt disapproval of all market-based solutions.

Frankly, I do not understand subtleties of legal issues swirling around the constitutionality of the individual mandate, but I do know the Supreme Court must resolve the individual mandate issue soon before we squander time, energy, and money implementing a law that may be declared “void.”

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