By Jack Minor
A physician-congressman – with three decades of experience working inside the nation’s health-care system – is warning that the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare should serve as a wake-up that inspires Americans to rise up and take control of their own destiny.
“It was disturbing that we made the case to Justice Kennedy, who embraced the concept of limited government, only to have it overshadowed by Chief Justice John Roberts, who envisioned the entire issue simply of one over the ability to tax,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told WND.
He added, “The good news for liberty is the inability of Congress to exceed its authority under the Commerce Clause was affirmed. The bad news for liberty is the taxing power of Congress has now been accelerated by this Court.”
In a 5-4 split decision this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a tax and, thus, legal under the U.S. Constitution.
Burgess has been a medical doctor for more than 30 years. As such, he provides a unique outlook on the ruling both from a lawmaker’s perspective and as a member of the health-care field.
Now that the Supreme Court has presented its ruling, he said the need to act is more urgent than ever.
“For all the harm Roberts did to us yesterday, he did us a favor by clearly delineating if you don’t like this you have a remedy at the ballot box not the courthouse,” Burgess said. “He was saying to politicians, don’t expect me to rescue you if you make a bad political decision when you cast your vote. You need to pay attention to what you voted for.”
Roberts, drafting the majority opinion, wrote, “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
Based on Robert’s admonition, House Republicans have announced that they are planning to hold a vote to repeal Obamacare on July 11.
President Obama has tried to deflect attempts to repeal portions of his “crown jewel” legislation by declaring, “It’s time for us to move forward.”
He continued to make promises to the American people.
“Because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you,” Obama said. “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance – this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.”
However, Burgess takes issue with Obama’s statements. He said, contrary to the president’s claims, costs have not gone down, but have actually increased by approximately $2,000 for a family premium under Obamacare.
Burgess warned that Obamacare, by its very nature, will increase costs. He said the real solution for controlling costs is common-sense, market-based solutions.
Burgess is a proponent of catastrophic coverage and health-care savings accounts. He explained that medical issues typically come in three categories: 1) small and manageable, such as Band-Aids and aspirin, 2) medium range, such as orthodontic visits or maternity issues and 3) unexpected issues, such as accidents or disease.
He said the solution for all of these categories is simple and need not involve government.
For the first two categories, health-savings accounts would allow a person to contribute to a personal fund to pay for these expenses, he explained.
Burgess added that he would also like to see “health-borrowing accounts” made available to people.
“These would be outside the normal credit score criteria and would allow a person to borrow for medical expenses and pay it off over time,” he said.
Burgess noted that there is no question these reforms would lower costs and pointed to current real-world examples to prove his point.
“Take a look at orthodontic services as well as cosmetic and LASIK surgery,” he said. “In each of these areas the cost is coming down and the marketplace responds to competition. We should embrace that. Those providing these types of services often work with patients to provide them with payment plans and compete with others in their field.”
However, Burgess argued that Obamacare drives costs up by forcing doctors out of private practices and into hospitals.
“Cardiologists and other doctors are closing their private practices and moving to hospitals because, under Obamacare, the hospital reimbursement rate under Medicaid and Medicare is so much higher for them then if they remain in private practice. The hospital is then seeing an increase in their bottom line,” he lamented. “We are going in the wrong direction, the prices are not coming down they are going up.”
During his own experience running a private practice with several physicians, Burgess said he had to hire two full-time employees just to file insurance paperwork.
“There are multiple codes for a sprained ankle,” he explained. “That is simply an attempt by someone outside the practice of medicine attempting to exert control over us and it drives us crazy.”
Burgess said ultimately the health-care solutions need to be physician led, rather than allowing politicians to interfere with care.
Obama has touted a variety of purportedly “free” services Americans are now able to receive from insurance companies and doctors.
“They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms – a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance,” he said.
But Burgess said, as a member of the health-care profession he is outraged over attempts to portray these services as free.
“There is no free cost here,” he said. “When the president talks about free screenings and free tests, that is not right. There is nothing free in medicine. The cost will be borne by somebody somewhere in the system.”
Burgess even went so far as to point the finger at Obama for “lying” about his legislation to get votes.
“Stop talking about free stuff for people,” he said. “That sounds as if you are pandering, because you are. But more to the point, you are lying because nothing is free.”
Finally, Burgess said the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision proves the 2012 election is exceedingly important.
“The man on the street needs to look at this decision,” he said. “They’ve got a big election coming up, and they need to examine these facts and incorporate other facts that are important to them. They then have a big choice to make, which has become even more apparent than it was two weeks ago.”
Burgess added, “There is a bright line between the philosophical differences of the two parties, and even the presidential candidates and people need to make their choices accordingly.”