Friday, December 12, 2014

December, 2014, Part 1, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care Update: Deepening Doctor Shortage, Senate Democrats Demise, and More

It is the middle of another month which means it is time for another set of monthly update posts on the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care. We have written extensively on this subject for a number of years now, finally evolving our writing into a monthly update series beginning in the summer of 2013.

It is our contention, backed up with dozens of blog posts and hundreds of examples, that Obama Care is easily the worst piece of legislation ever produced and enacted by the Washington political class. To prove out point and review previous posts, enter the search term, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care” in the search box above or just search through the monthly posts over the past years to find out why this law is so bad.

Below are just a few of the many failings of the law:
  • While the law did get health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, it also caused and almost equal number of millions of Americans to actually lose their current insurance coverage.
  • Rather than decrease the annual cost of health insurance for Americans households by $2,500, as promised by President Obama, on average, it actually increased the cost of household health insurance.
  • Rather than being retain access to their preferred doctors, hospitals and drug treatments, millions of Americans lost access to their preferences despite Obama’s promises that they would not lose that access.
  • Despite the promise that the number of emergency room visits would go down, the volume of visits has gone up.
  • The law made a doctor shortage crisis even worse.
  • The law’s weak data systems operations placed millions of Americans at a high risk of identity theft.
  • The law has resulted in the American taxpayer subsidizing abortion expenses despite the promise that Obama Care insurance policy subsidizes would not allow taxpayer money to subsidize abortions.
  • The law never addressed the underlying root causes of high health care costs in this country (e.g. a fat, sugar, and salt infested food chain, smoking addictions, lack of exercise, aging diseases, etc.) and thus, has no chance of actually doing what it was supposed to do, reduce health care costs in this country.
  • The law has stunted economic growth and employment growth through out the economy.
  • The law will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt despite the Obama promise that it would actually reduce the national debt.
This is probably just a partial list of the bad things this law has done to the country. Let’s read on to see the latest disasters from this disastrous piece of legislation:

1) Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press wrote an article on December 7, 2014 that discussed the very real problem of a primary care doctor shortage that exists in this country today. While there was likely a primary care doctor shortage before Obama Care was passed, the passage of the legislation made this bad situation worse for three reasons:

1. More people getting insurance probably means more doctor visits which means a more acute doctor shortage, a reality that the legislation never took into effect in order to try and remedy.

2. Many doctors are finding the bureaucratic red tape of Obama Care so frustrating to work with that they are either retiring early or moving into specialty fields, further depleting the primary care doctor shortage.

3. Since Obama Care policies are tending to compensate doctors at lower than previous levels, there is a concern that potential future doctors will turn to other fields where their financial success chance might be higher.

Ms. Kennedy’s article points out other issues the law has raised:
  • A recent poll by The Physicians Foundation found that 81% of doctors describe their medical practices as either over-extended or already at full capacity.
  • 44% said they planned to cut back on the number of patients they see, retire, work part-time or close their practice to new patients.
  • Obama Care insurance companies have usually drastically limited the number of doctors and their health care providers on their insurance plans as a way to cut costs which has further restricted some patients' ability to get doctor appointments quickly.
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that the primary care doctor shortage will grow to about 66,000 in the next decade as more potential medical students choose higher-paying specialty areas or non-medical fields.
  • Due to heavy demand, some primary care doctors are seeing less and less of their patients, relying on nurses and physician assistants to see and treat the sick, a potential decrease in the quality of healthcare be provided at the primary care level.
  • The article cites a situation in Grass Valley, California, where just four or five primary care doctors out of about 135 in that town’ local area signed up with one of the two Obama Care insurers and the other Obama Care insurer has just a handful more since the vast majority of doctors in the area did not want to deal with Obama Care hassles and low reimbursement levels.
  • This led one Grass Valley insurance agent to correctly observe that, "Coverage does not equal care,” i.e. the good news is that you now have health insurance coverage, the bad news is that you cannot get in to see a doctors to use that coverage.
I am not saying that uninsured people do not deserve to get medical treatment. I am saying it is amazingly stupid for the Washington political class to think that there would not be a deeper doctor or access crisis when you add millions of people to the insurance rolls and not have a plan to deal with the issue. But “amazingly stupid” is pretty much par for the course when it comes to Obama Care.

2) Phillip Klein, writing for the Washington Examiner on December 6, 2014, had a very interesting observation regarding the U.S. Senate and the Democratic Senators who voted for Obama Care. Of the 60 Senators who voted to enact Obama Care, all of them Democrats, when the new Senate is seated in January a full 50% of those who voted for Obama Care will no longer be serving in that chamber.

Given the widespread unpopularity of Obama Care among Americans, it really should come as not surprise that many Senators who voted for this disaster are no longer in office. It is correct to point out, as Mr. Klein does, that not all 30 missing Senators are out of their Senate seat because of Obama Care. For example, former Senator John Kerry is now the Secretary of State. 

However, a total of 16 Democratic Senators who voted for Obama Care, more than half of the 30 now missing from the Senate, either failed to win reelection or declined to run for reelection and had their seats turn into Republican seats. Which does give one hope for the future of our democracy that eventually many politicians who do not look out for the best interests and the opinions of their constituents do so at the risk of their political careers. 

It is a shame that their political careers did not end before the legislation was passed.

3) But many Senators are starting to realize that Obama Care was indeed a mistake event those Democrats who voted for it. Last month, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer from New York admitted that Obama Care was a mistake and that other national priorities should have bee addressed first before working on the disaster that is Obama Care.

And now former Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has come with an even blunter statement: “We blew it,” by passing the Obama Care legislation.

Now, his solution or alternative to Obama Care would have been to pass a so-called single payer, a total government control process that would have been far worse than Obama Care, as witnessed by the disaster of single payer government systems around the world. In a recent interview with The Hill, Harkin had the following observations and regrets:
  • Harkin said Congress should have enacted a single-payer healthcare system in 2009, when Democrats had a big majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.
  • He stated the Obama Care legislation was made too complicated in order to satisfy the political concerns of a few moderate Democrats.
  • "We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it. So, I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all. What we did is we muddled through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections, and still rewards the insurance companies extensively."
  •  "We had the votes to do that and we blew it," Harkin told The Hill, adding that Obama Care is "really complicated."

Too complicated, complex, convoluted, needs corrections, not efficient, etc., these certainly are not good adjectives when describing any piece of legislation. But Harkin is completely wrong it he thinks the Federal government, given total control of the health care industry in a single payer world, would have made it less convoluted, less complex, less complicated, a position that does not stand up to reason and reality. 

Given how poorly the Federal government functioned in putting together Obama Care’s systems, processes, paperwork, etc., a single payer system would not be any more effective since the same broken Federal government would still be running the show with the same ineffective bureaucrats and bureaucratic processes. To think otherwise is to ignore how poorly operated the government is today in all aspects of our lives, from the Defense Department to the IRS to health care.

That will do it for today but at least through tomorrow we will continue to update the world on the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.

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