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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

October 24, 2012

President's Commentary

Sometimes the Left talks truth. Sometimes they obfuscate, a word that sounds perfectly like the shadowy land of lies and half-truths. I have two examples of truth-talking to share, both quite illuminating, followed by one of undisputed obfuscation. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who was nominated by Obama for Secretary of HHS (until unpaid back taxes were revealed), laid out exactly how a President Romney could repeal Obamacare. As reported by  Avik Roy at Forbes, Daschle says "the bulk of it can be dismantled":

"If a president is determined to do it, he can do three things. First of all, he can pass legislation. As you say, he can use reconciliation for certain amounts affecting the budget of the federal government. And that's calculated to be somewhere in the 40 to 60 percent range, depending on how parliamentarians ultimately rule on some of these budgetary questions. So that's number one.

"Number two, through rule making. He can really do a lot to change the course of the legislation because - especially with the Affordable Care Act - the secretary and the president were given wide latitude. And third, he can defund it. He can just simply not dedicate resources within the budget. That will be his prerogative as he sets his own budget. So he could have a profound effect on the outcome of the ACA in a very short period of time."

Look how simple it could be.

Here's a second example of truth-talking. I've discovered a summary of a  recent interview with Walter McClure, one of the architects of the HMO and the HMO Act of 1973. The interview was conducted by The Civic Caucus which is associated with the Citizens League. McClure is clearly thrilled at where health care is going in Minnesota, even though, according to what he must have said in the interview, Minnesota's new system of measuring cost and quality was once considered a communist idea:

"That quality and cost assessment are now in place in Minnesota is an amazing fact, McClure said. When his team started on assessment in the 1980's, the idea that someone would be looking over a physician's shoulder was considered communism. Physicians were convinced of their right to autonomy. However, by 2008 Minnesota's private and voluntary sector had accomplished a sea change in this culture with 85 percent of providers in the state participating in having their outcomes measured."

The "sea change" was a 2008 health care reform law CCHF opposed and Governor Tim Pawlenty signed - and continued to tout as a "conservative" idea during his presidential campaign. The language was finalized in the last day of session behind closed doors in his office. 

Obfuscation is the opposite of truth-talking. It's filled with half-truths and outright lies meant to deceive. Let's look at so-called "quality" measurement, as McClure discussed above. Beyond Pawlenty's tall tales about incentives, quality and pay for performance in  The Washington Post -- which are unconstitutional and a violation of the confidential patient-doctor relationship -- here is a recent example of obfuscation from Mr. McClure and Tim McDonald in the  MN Journal, a Citizens League publication:

"There are essentially three steps to a market-reform strategy. Patients must receive information identifying the quality and the efficiency of all providers based on severity-adjusted outcomes. In other words, they must know which providers are better for less. And they must have rewards in their insurance to pick the more efficient over the more costly. . . .

"No matter what that [alternative] strategy turns out to be [if the market strategy fails], outcomes assessment will clearly have to be an essential part of it, and on this, Minnesota is way out front of the rest of the nation. If cost is to be controlled nationally, outcomes assessment and information on the cost of care, paired with payment reform, must become a central thrust of policy."

In other words:

  • We'll tell you who to pick as a doctor or penalize you with higher premiums. 
  • We'll use your private medical data to do it even if it violates the confidential patient-doctor relationship and the U.S. Constitution. 
  • We'll give doctors "efficiency" scores even if that means your doctor will be forced to spend less time with you. 
  • We'll decide what "quality" is and penalize your doctor accordingly, even if it means one-size-fits-all treatment dictates of government officials and HMO executives. 
  • And you are supposed to believe that this is a "market."

Lies are rampant. Truth is scarce. Obamacare has to be repealed and intrusion into the patient's medical records must come to an end at the state and federal level or we may indeed end up with the communism of which Mr. McClure spoke.

Now on to the news . . .

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News to Know:

White House Exempt from ObamaCare

Sen. Chuck Grassley isn't happy. Democrats are running ads accusing Republican members of Congress of trying to repeal Obamacare to avoid the requirement that Congress and congressional staff get their health insurance through government exchanges. However, Grassley was the author of the amendment to the ACA that created this requirement. In a statement on October 19,  Grassley says,

"Remember, it was Republicans who made this law apply to Congress, not the Democrats who wrote the law. The Democrats were perfectly fine with applying Obamacare to the entire economy but leaving themselves out." He adds, "Despite passage of my amendment, Democrats still carved out exemptions for high-level staff, despite Republican efforts to undo the carve-outs, and Democrats refused to make Obamacare apply to the White House itself."  (Below in Stats: taxpayer costs for Congress premiums)

Is Minnesota Building the Exchange for 50 States?

Minnesota is one of 5 states most advanced in creating the IT infrastructure for Obama's exchange -- the federal takeover centers -- and could be the farthest along, according to Minnesota state Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R) yesterday in a hearing. Are they building the prototype for the nation -- all under Governor Mark Dayton's executive order? And what could that mean? One interesting fact, as pointed out by Gottwalt, is that Maximus, Inc, the exchange contractor, helped set up the single-payer system in two Canadian provinces.

Because of a really bad state law, which Republican tried to undo last session but Dayton vetoed, the legislature can't stop the governor from taking and using federal dollars (which run out Jan 1, 2015), but it can stop the exchange in its tracks by refusing to pass a law. As I reminded them in  my testimony, the exchange doesn't have a state law, state-authorized governance for the exchange or a law allowing it to be funded with taxes, fines, fees, premium withholds, etc.  Key statements from the hearing regarding Governor's authority to "go it alone."

Do People Die from Being Uninsured?

In 2002, the liberal Institute of Medicine, a research arm of the federal government, issued a report saying  18,000 people die from lack of health insurance. The Urban Institute later claimed that 22,000 adults died in 2006 from lack of health insurance. The liberal Families USA has a  state-by-state chart purporting "first-ever state-level estimates of the number of deaths due to lack of health insurance." Recently  Mitt Romney claimed this isn't true and a firestorm erupted.  Paul Krugman claimed Republican want to let people die. Well, none of this is true. First, if people were dying from being uninsured, the death certificate would say so. Second, people with health insurance die all the time. Where do these liberals get their data. Third, as  John Goodman at NCPA reports, a National Bureau of Economic Research  report and a  study by an economist who worked for Obama discount these claims.

Why are Medical Errors on the Rise?

On July 1, 2004, the "Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure and Wrong Person Surgery" became effective for all accredited hospitals, ambulatory care and office-based surgery facilities. The protocol  requires marks on the skin and performing "time-outs" to check that the staff has the right patient, site, and procedure. Yet, the latest data, according to Healthcare Finance News, shows medical errors may be on the rise. Some say that the number of errors is not increasing, only the number of reports. Five items to consider:

  1. Not all errors lead to death or serious disability.
  2. The  definition of "serious disability" is open to interpretation.
  3. Doctors  don't agree about the definitions of "error." 
  4. Not all errors are actually the cause of a person's death.
  5. Could payment reductions that lead to squeezing more patients in per day (e.g. no pay for Medicare readmissions) -- and paperwork and bureaucratic protocols that are taking doctors and nurses away from patient care -- be part of the problem?

"Harry Potter" Medical Records

The nation's head of health information technology recently went "Harry Potter on EHRs," reports HealthcareIT News. At an October event for chief information officers, Farzad Mostashari, national health IT coordinator, chastised the paper medical record: "It closes, and it's gone. You can't use it, you can't move it. You can't do anything with it." The article  reports,

"Mostashari then had wizardly visions of Harry Potter. Open a manila folder and that 'paper is alive' for a fraction of a patient's like before the chart goes back on the shelf. But what if a doctor could conjure up a magical spell and have all the charts of patients with diabetes fly off the shelves, opening to the pages that would show whether or not each person got the recommended care. Properly implemented EHRs can do this, virtually. 'That is the essence of population health management. It sounds so buzzwordy,' Mostashari conceded, 'but it's a simple concept.' He said physicians have an obligation to all of their patients, even those they see once and don't come back."

Quotes of the Week:

"Whoever pays holds the power to choose." - Dr. C.L. Gray, M.D., Physicians for Reform,  The Determinators Movie.







"Who do you guys think you are, you know, to say that you'll pay for my dying but you won't pay to help me possibly live longer." - Barbara Wagner, who was  denied chemotherapy and offered assisted suicide by the taxpayer-funded Oregon Health Plan in May 2008. Genentech, the drug manufacturer provided it at no cost after the firestorm, but she died from lung cancer in October 2008, The Determinators Movie.




"If we invest thousand and thousands of dollars in one person's days to weeks, we are taking away those dollars from someone." - Dr. Som Saha, Chairman of the Oregon Health Plan Commission, which only pays for chemo if it will lead to a cure. The Determinators Movie.



Stats of the Week:

6% - the amount of fewer hours doctors are working compared to 2008.

17% - the amount of fewer patients doctors are treating compared to 2008.

72% - average amount of Congressional premiums paid by taxpayers.

$10,000 - average taxpayer costs per Member of Congress (family coverage)

$27 billion - total cost of ACA regulations imposed on states and businesses so far.

News Release of the Week:

CCHF Releases New Report: Private Health Insurance Exchanges Offer a Real Market - and More Benefits than Government-Run ACA Exchanges

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Citizens' Council for Health Freedom today released a new CCHF Policy Insight paper outlining the amazing growth in private health insurance exchanges, as well as the benefits of private versus government-run ACA exchanges. Authored by industry expert and CCHF Senior Policy Fellow Greg Scandlen, the new report discusses the significant growth and benefits of private health insurance exchanges.

While the federal government is spending billions to implement state-run ACA exchanges that they expect to monopolize the market, the private sector has come onto the scene, providing a variety of models and options that have more flexibility and offer more promise of success than a government-run model ever could. Continue reading

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Health Care Reform - Focus on the Political Disease

Solving the health care crisis requires knowing the political disease, not just treating its symptoms. Policymakers should deal with the disease, but too often they deal only with the symptoms. This focus is harmful. Todayʼs crisis is a symptom of a political disease this country has been nurturing for five decades. 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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