U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess
WASHINGTON – A Texas Republican in Congress told an audience at the Heritage Foundation today that Obamacare, the president’s signature legislation that essentially nationalized much of the health-care decision-making going forward, is nothing more or less than an “assault” on health care.
The law, signed by the president one year ago this week, is “a major assault on our profession,” U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, a physician, said.
He was part of a panel assembled at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation seminar on Obamacare. Members of the panel warned of the law’s unhealthy consequences, called for repeal and proposed true health-care reform.
Robert Moffit, senior fellow of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Policy Innovation, led the seminar, “Why Doctors Need Full Repeal of Obamacare: Medical Professionals Diagnose the Law’s Side Effects,” featuring Burgess, Dr. Martha Boone of Atlanta, and Gurjeet Guram, member of Harvard Medical School Class of 2014.
Moffit told WND that the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Action is designed to lead the U.S. into complete government control over health care and wipe out health insurance companies.
Heritage panel reviewing Obamacare
“If the government controls the finances and benefits, what’s left?” Moffit asked. “It’s our view [at Heritage], it’s not a question of whether you want to keep your doctor. It’s a question of whether your doctor will want you. There are a lot of things that will take place in this law [that] will affect the doctor-patient relationship.”
He told WND, “Probably the most important thing is that Medicare will add a new layer of reporting. So physicians will have to comply and those conditions will be determined by the secretary of HHS.”
The fact their offices are swamped with paperwork already won’t matter, penalties are being set up to address those physicians who want to buck the system.
“Despite the support of the American Medical Association, every survey we’ve seen shows that physicians are hostile to this law, and they’re hostile because they see it as a law that will impose more requirements on them, making more it difficult to serve patients in the way that they prefer,” he said.
Burgess, whose new book, “Doctor in the House,” outlines what he sees as solutions America needs to embrace, explained his grandfather and father both were physicians in Canada and the U.S., respectively, and he practiced medicine for 30 years before he was inspired to go to Washington to try to address health care reform.
He said health care “is not the fundamental interaction between the doctor and the hospital. Not the fundamental interaction between the doctor and the health plan.”
He said if the health plan is in control, “to whom is the doctor accountable?”
Burgess said the solution is a simple repeal, with individual problems to be addressed by Congress one measure at a time.
Dr. Boone, a urologist based in Atlanta, spoke on behalf her patients and 3,000 physicians organized as Docs4PatientCare. The audience laughed when she said, “I’ve read the entire bill and it gave me a huge headache.”
In preparation for her speech, Boone surveyed 5,000 of her patients and found that 10 percent want government health care, while 90 percent want the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Action repealed immediately.
She told WND that the government is “completely out of touch.” She described a recent experience with federal management of an individual’s health care. She is able to offer two operations for “stress incontinence,” one taking 15 minutes and costing $2,200. The other has the patient miss four weeks of work and costs $15,000.
In a recent situation she lobbied for the less expensive procedure. She said after some 37 letters to Medicare, the agency approved it. But six months later, Medicare wrote to her and demanded the money back, even though her patient’s choice saved taxpayers $12,800.
“I think, as this bill cranks up and goes even further, Medicare will be able to say what we can and can’t do – even outside of what the patient wants,” she said.
Guram spoke as co-president of the Harvard chapter of the Benjamin Rush Society, a nonpartisan group dedicated to free enterprise with 24 chapters in U.S. medical schools.
“As a future doctor,” said Guram, “there’s a lot that concerns me.”
“The first is the Medicaid expansion of this bill,” he said. He cited provisions to add an estimated 16 million people to the system, although he expects many employers to cut their own coverage and move workers to that program, too.
“The reason the Medicaid expansion is so detrimental is because Medicaid is failing in many ways. … The Medicaid program has low reimbursement for many physicians and there’s many administrative hassles within the program: such as delays on payments and arbitrary administrative decisions such as the ones that Dr. Burgess alluded to,” he said.
“A second concern that I wanted to raise, looking to the future of medical practice, is the issue of innovation, … The reality is going to be, that I fear, that all of these new boards and agencies regulating how drugs and devices are priced and how they’re used, there’s going to be no incentive for pharmaceutical and biotech venture capital companies to invest in these types of innovations because there’s going to be uncertainty in how they’re going to be used or how they’re going to be paid for.”
He said Obama’s “health care” law creates a “hostile environment” for both drug companies and medical device makers because it levies more taxes on them.