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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

October 10, 2012

President's Commentary

How will the election change health care? Although there are many similarities noted between Obamacare and RomneyCare, there are distinct differences between Romney and Obama within the two laws and on other health care issues. A  comparison chart from the Hastings Center called "Bioethics 2012" shows their positions on various bioethical issues, including health reform.

EHRs will continue to be a hot topic. That's because both parties are going the wrong way on health IT and electronic health records. Bush issued the 2004 executive order to build a national data system and Obama's 2009 stimulus mandated EHRs and gave $27 billion to create a  national data system. Meanwhile, four Chairmen in the U.S. House have called on HHS to stop paying doctors and hospitals to put everyone's data online until interoperability (online linking) has improved. We disagree. Where's patient consent? Healthcare IT News has an  entire article on our response to the Chairmen's letter to HHS.

When deciding how to vote, guess what? Costs matter. According to the Independent Women's Forum, independent voters are  cooling to Obamacare. When presented with the cost realities, "the numbers moved a net +14 points in favor of Romney." The IWF questionnaire drives the point home.

Thankfully, states are remembering their power. This is good news no matter how the election turns out. The Minnesota House just rejected Governor Mark Dayton's request to spend $42.5 million the feds gave MN to continue building the unauthorized Obamacare Exchange. The grant would also permanently fund 54 new bureaucrats. Find the letter to Dayton on our new "MN Exchange Documents" page. However, Commissioner Jim Schowalter, from the MN Management and Budget Office, said this morning at an Exchange task force meeting that the legislature's letter is simply "advisory." In other words, by law Governor Dayton doesn't have to comply with it.

In Florida, voters will vote on a constitutional  amendment to "prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage..." Policy analysts say a "yes" vote could be used to keep state employees or agencies from enforcing the federal reform law. Missouri, Alabama and Wyoming have similar amendments on their ballots. 

Obamacare lawsuits re-emerge as election looms. The U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door to another lawsuit against Obamacare from  Liberty University, a Christian College in Virginia that has been fighting the employer mandate. SCOTUS gave the administration 30 days to respond to the University's request to take up the lawsuit. This is great news!

But...the IRS is coming. Byron York on Townhall says, "Romney should expose [the] IRS as  enforcer for Obamacare." Indeed. The enforcement will come through Obama's Exchanges. You'll have to register online with the IRS through the exchange every year. You'll have to register every change in address, status, marriage, employment, etc. when it happens during the year or else expect a threatening letter to pay a penalty...or pay back your subsidy. The Exchange is Obama's enforcement tool. See our  15 Reasons to oppose it.

Will I see you Sunday? CCHF will be on the "Celebrate America" annual  fall cruise hosted by The 56 Club. We'll be traveling on Minnesota's St. Croix River this Sunday, October 14 from 1:00 - 4:30 p.m. I hope to see you there!

NOVEMBER 15 -  Special Event in Minneapolis with Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal: "Election 2012: Taking the Pulse of Freedom."  Sponsors will be able to meet Mr. Moore at a private reception. There's even an opportunity for a few sponsors to sit at his table (seven seats still available). Call for sponsorship details.

Help us raise the funds necessary to stop Obamacare and restore patient-centered, mission-minded health care. If you can't come, please donate a generous gift of $25, $60, $125 or even more today to help us meet our goal to expand our capacity so we can help Minnesota and other states stop Obamacare regardless of what happens in the election. We've already helped six. Help us expand our efforts!

Now on to the news . . .

News to Know:

The Silent Exodus

Patients should expect increasing difficulty accessing medical care, according to a survey of 13,575 physicians. The survey commissioned by The Physicians Foundation estimates that "44,250...physicians will be lost from the workforce in the next four years. The survey also found that over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent of physicians will cut back on patients seen, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire, or take other steps likely to reduce patient access. In addition, should 100,000 physicians transition from practice-owner to employed status over the next four years (such as working in a hospital setting), the survey indicates that this will lead to 91 million fewer annual patient encounters." 

So much for Obama's promise that "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period." According to the survey, 57.9 percent would not recommend medicine as a career. Fully 77 million babyboomers are exiting employment and entering Medicare, but "No one has enough doctors...It doesn't matter where you are,"  says Tommy Bohannon from the physician search firm Merritt Hawkins.

British Patients Starve to Death

If you want to know where America is going under Obamacare, just look across the sea to the sunny shores of England. A  new report finds patients dying of starvation and dehydration. A report by the Royal College of Physicians said too may hospitals are treating patients like "medical conditions" not people. The paper reports, "In many wards nurses were dumping meal trays in front of patients too weak to feed themselves and then taking them away again untouched."

The Care Quality Commission is "investing £140 million so that nurses can spend more time with patients, not paperwork." However, 4,500 nurses were  cut from the National Health Service in July 2012. As the U.S. government requires doctors and hospitals to complete myriad checklists and use complex, difficult-to-navigate computerized medical records, we may expect the same in our future. Remember that glowing  Olympic display of the NHS? Here are a few real facts about death in the NHS:

  • 43 patients starved to death
  • 287 people died malnourished
  • 558 patients died in severe dehydration
  • 78 hospital patients died from bedsores

D.C. Mandates Individuals Use Exchange

Last week, the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange board voted to make the government-imposed exchange "the District's sole health insurance marketplace for individuals and businesses with 50 employees or less," reports The Washington Examiner. The publication says the Board did it to "give the exchange at least 100,000 consumers, which is a pool large enough so that the exchange can negotiate competitive rates with insurers."  Businesses have spoken out against it, afraid they'll end up with a different insurer and higher rates. The only way employers can stay with their current insurer is if the insurer decides to participate in the Exchange. 

The Exchange has been touted as a competitive "marketplace" and citizens have been promised that if they like their insurance they could keep it. The D.C. "marketplace" shows how little competition there will be and how much coercion there can be. A publication, Inside Health Insurance Exchanges, warns of this outcome: "Low enrollment within the exchanges due to adverse selection could push state regulators to forbid insurance sales outside the exchange to maximize federal subsidies..." [emphasis added.]

Sticker Shocks

I attended an October 4 forum hosted by the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters (MAHU). Seven panelists provided answers to a host of questions, including comments on the Obamacare Exchange (HIX) that Governor Dayton is trying to build without legislative authority. Here are the most enlightening comments I heard:

  • FOR BUSINESS: "We want a health care system that works for business."  - Kate Johansen, lobbyist, MN Chamber of Commerce
  • CLINTON: "In the Clinton days we called the exchange alliances," meant to lead to drastic change. - Scott Keefer, BlueCross BlueShield of MN
  • CLUELESS: "So much of [the ACA] is unknown." - Geoff Bartsch, lobbyist, HealthPartners 
  • TRUST: "Small businesses trust brokers as much as they trust their spouses." - Johansen
  • UNHAPPY: "If you don't get a subsidy to pay for it, you'll be pretty unhappy." - Keefer
  • MAGIC: "It's wrong to tell people their costs will go down and coverage will go up. That's magic, in the realm of the tooth fairy, in fact, free cupcakes." - Keefer
  • SHOCK: "Shell shock" when you can't keep the insurance policy you have. - Deb Shomaker, PreferredOne
  • HIGHER COSTS: "Costs are going up. Premiums are going up, in some cases dramatically." - Bartsch
  • PRICE TAG: "When they get that price tag to their used car, they're not going to be happy." - Bartsch
  • TWO SHOCKS: There will be "price tag shock" and "What-do-you-mean-I can't-keep-what-I-have shock." - Bartsch
  • WILLING: "We're willing to look at a bill," add amendments and end up with a "compromise"..."We all live in a country where we have to obey the law, so we'll follow the law...We'll try to repeal...We need to make choices that keep a free-market." - Sen. David Hann (R)
  • SINGLE BUYER: "Not supportive of a monopoly exchange." Could become a "single purchasing mechanism for government to purchase insurance." - Chris Schneeman, broker
  • OUR DIME: "We don't need to bake the blue ribbon exchange on our dime and let other states copy it." - Shomaker, regarding Minnesota's continued development of Obama's Exchange.
  • BROKERS: "The more the exchange costs, the less money for brokers." - Robert Freeman, lobbyist, HealthPartners.
  • HEFTY PRICE: $140 million/year - cost of MN exchange per 2012 fiscal note - MN state Senator David Hann.
  • SHOULD THEY RECUSE? Health and Human Services Chair  Senator David Hann (R-MN) announced that he is now a licensed insurance agent, and has joined Boys & Tyler Financial Group (which also  lists Health and Human Services Reform Chair Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-MN) as an associate). The president of MAHU also announced that Hann has accepted membership on a MAHU board. MAHU  supports establishing Obama's exchange and  Rep. Gottwalt authored the 2011 bill to install it -- a bill CCHF defeated.


Research, Rationing and Fraud

A prominent genomics web publication notes,  "We Have a Problem in Science." A new study estimates "that the percentage of scientific papers retracted because of fraud has increased more than 10-fold since 1975."  The publication notes that the rise in fraudulent papers "is a sign of a winner-take-all culture in which getting a paper published in a major journal can be the difference between heading a lab and facing unemployment." In other words, researchers are cheating. 

Obamacare is counting on "comparative effectiveness research" (CER) -- looking into all our medical records for "evidence" -- as the future for  cost control (rationing). The HITECH Act within the Recovery Act ("stimulus") gave CER $1.1 billion. Do you trust government-sponsored, government-paid researchers using your private data to have your best interests in mind? Especially if they want to keep getting taxpayer dollars?

Quotes of the Week:

"It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it." - Thomas Sowell

"More and more, physicians feel that someone is telling them how to treat patients. They worry that the [treatment] guidelines are promulgated to reduce overall costs rather than put patients first. Doctors feel that they have to give up more autonomy and they resent being told how to exercise their medical judgment." - Tommy Bohannon,  Medscape Physician Survey, 4/24/2012.

"It is clear that the introduction of nearly 30 million new patients into the U.S. healthcare system through healthcare reform, added to the already growing physician shortage, will have profound implications for patient access to medical care...Combine this with changes in practice patterns that reduce the number of hours physicians spend seeing patients and the situation is truly alarming. These practice changes amount to a silent exodus of physicians from the workforce. When these lost hours are added up, we get a much fuller and more ominous picture of the kind of access crisis that patients may soon face." - Walker Ray, MD, The Physicians Foundation, September 24, 2012.

Stats of the Week:

77 - % of doctors pessimistic about the future of medicine.
92 - % of doctors unsure how they will fit into health care system 3-5 years from now.
54 - % of doctors who would choose medicine again as career (was 69% in 2011).<
33 - % of doctors that spend > 10 hours per week on paperwork/administration.
40 - % of 850 medical students surveyed who had no opinion about the federal law.

1,773 hours - time needed per year for doctor to do all preventive screening recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
7.4 hours - time needed per day for doctor to do USPSTFscreenings and counseling. 

50+ - the tax rate on medical devices, including 15% Obamacare tax on profits.
1,000 - number of workers the device maker Stryker anticipates laying off. 

News Release of the Week:

CCHF Renews Call on Feds to Stop Pushing Health Data Online Amid Allegations It Won't Reduce Costs or Improve Care

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Michael Grunwald recently wrote in Healthcare IT News that health IT was one of the most transformative programs promoted by President Obama's $27 billion Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health - or HITECH - Act within the Recovery Act. By computerizing medical data under the guise of cost control and improved healthcare delivery, the U.S. government has been able to implement what HHS Secretary Sebelius called the "foundation" for Obamacare. This readily accessible patient data would be used to implement the tracking and pay-for-performance functions of mandatory health care.

HITECH was also purported to lower the cost of healthcare by reducing unnecessary or repeat tests and doctors' visits, while offering healthcare professionals the ability to serve their patients better based on easier access to their medical records. Continue reading

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Obamacare's Lost Tribe

President Obama said, "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period." But people may soon be losing their doctors just like theyʼre losing their insurance. Obamacare cuts payments and imposes limits on care. It challenges medical ethics and burdens doctors with paperwork and reporting requirements. Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100

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