The new Republican Congress is unlikely to repeal the Affordable Care Act even after the GOP’s overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, with both medical and political experts agreeing that Americans must learn to live with Obamacare for a few years.
Many Republicans won their elections by criticizing the president’s expansive health-care scheme. But in reality, Obama would block any congressional attempt to rein it in, analysts say.
Dr. Lee Hieb, author of the explosive “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare,” warned in an exclusive interview with WND that the consequences of the new law are already beginning to hit the American heartland.
“Just judging from my experiences in Iowa, we’re already seeing increasing shortages of critical drugs like Valium, which is needed to prevent seizures,” she said. “We’re running out of drugs to prevent tetanus infections in Arizona, and I’m even receiving reports about shortages of propofol, which is basically what is used to induce anesthesia during surgeries. And while things may be OK in the major metropolitan areas for a while, here in Iowa, the shortages and supply chain failures are already starting.”
Hieb’s personal experience is supported by reports from around the country of hospitals nationwide encountering shortages of critical drugs.
According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, or ASA, in the past five years “the United States has experienced shortages of an array of vital anesthetic drugs such as propofol, succinylcholine, even epinephrine.”
An ASA survey from 2012 shows more than 97 percent of anesthesiologists have experienced a shortage of at least one anesthetic drug.
And the reports have become more common, she said.
“When you make life difficult for providers, you negatively affect the entire process down the entire line. The Affordable Care Act imposes further regulatory and compliance burdens on both doctors and those who create medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. We’ve had these kinds of burdens for a long time, but Obamacare simply makes everything worse. It takes everything that’s been detracting from medical care and expands it.”
She said a requirement that details of every appointment be entered into “electric medical records” is sabotaging medical care.
Instead of doctors spending time with patients, they spend most of their time and effort in data entry. The records are then used by the government and insurance companies to ensure that patients are receiving what bureaucrats regard as the appropriate kinds of care. Doctors must follow this system to be paid.
The system especially hurts specialists, she said.
“Many specialists simply leave the profession either because they can no longer afford to practice or simply out of disgust,” she said.
Government and insurance company bureaucrats are not familiar with the patients and have no basis to determine what kind of treatment is required. The result is that doctors have more overhead and liability even as they are prevented from providing effective treatment.
Hieb said, “This electronic records requirement was the final nail in the coffin for me and pushed me to leave private practice.”
Obamacare strengthens such requirements and makes the government more involved in determining how medical care is to be provided. Other medical experts concur with Hieb that the Affordable Care Act is transforming the role of doctors from providers of medical care into “data entry clerks.”
In an interview by the medical industry publication Medscape, arheumatologist said: “Bureaucrats are telling us how to practice our profession, and they don’t have a clue about seeing patients on a daily basis. All the factors that made U.S. medicine the best in the world are now being destroyed.”
Little reason for hope from Congress
According to Hieb, “Obamacare is emptying out the heartland as far as medical care goes.”
The effects of the law are creating a political reaction as newly elected Republicans such as Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., report “a tide rising” against the Affordable Care Act from “all these angry people” forced to deal with the law.
But leading conservatives and political experts do not see much hope of a repeal or even a substantial rollback in the short term.
Renowned Republican strategist Richard Viguerie, author of the new book “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It,” predicts that the new Republican Congress will disappoint conservatives by not repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Viguerie judges that many Republicans “don’t have the conviction or the political courage, and a total repeal is not something high on their priority list.”
“Though I think we can chip away at it and weaken it, I’m not optimistic that GOP leaders are really honest when they say repeal and replace,” he said. “They are not prepared to fight Obama in the way that is needed.”
Similarly, Eagle Forum Founder and President Phyllis Schlafly says, “Many Republicans ran against Obamacare, and repealing it is clearly the sentiment from the grassroots.”
However, Schlafly believes the “Boehner Congress has not been willing to put up much of a fight.”
Viguerie thinks Republicans can eventually win the war over Obamacare after a long struggle.
“We need to defeat more RINO (Republican In Name Only) Republicans in the House particularly and keep up the pressure. And we have to make sure we nominate a Republican for president that shares our views, not an establishment Republican like a Jeb Bush, a Chris Christie or a Mitt Romney. We have to get a president that commits to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Viguerie notes that many Republicans come to Washington with the best of intentions but are eventually co-opted. However, “one of the things we have now is a network that can keep the pressure on and support those Republicans who decide to buck the leadership. We didn’t have that 10 years ago.”
Still, such hopes hinge on a unified Republican government, which is at least two years away, and on conservative victories in the Republican presidential primaries and a sweeping election win in the 2016 general election. In any case, Americans will have to live with Obamacare for some time.
Furthermore, conservatives still have to confront the political reality that Republicans receive much of their money from corporate lobbyists.
Viguerie goes so far as to say “Conservatives need to understand that their No. 1 opponent is not Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or even Barack Obama.’
“It’s the Chamber of Commerce. Even the best of these young conservatives get 75 percent of their funding from K Street and corporate lobbyists,” he said.
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, some of the biggest stakeholders donating to the Republican Party are insurance companies that enthusiastically support the new legislation.
For that reason, Hieb is pessimistic even in the long term. She says wryly that a repeal would be proof that “the age of miracles is not yet over.” But she believes most voters won’t understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act until they personally experience the coming shortages and restricted care.