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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

July 24, 2013


Bipartisan Attempt to Control Your Doctor

Who will control your doctor? Yesterday the U.S. Energy and Commerce House health subcommittee voted to pass a version of the bipartisan 70-page draft "SGR repeal" bill that will change the way Medicare pays your doctor and other clinicians. The bill repeals a longstanding contentious system of yearly payment cuts under a law called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)  -- but then it puts government in charge of doctors.

Congress has regularly passed annual "doc fix" bills to stop the SGR pay cuts. Thus, if the SGR cuts were finally allowed to take effect next year, Medicare payments to doctors would drop by 25% on January 1, 2014. Congress doesn't want this to happen. Instead, the proposed SGR repeal bill increases annual Medicare payments by 0.5% for five years -- until 2019 when it institutes an intrusive tracking system that would put medical decisions under federal control.

In exchange for the SGR repeal, the bill would require doctors to report certain government-imposed "quality" metrics to the government or accept a 5% cut in Medicare payments.

The SGR Repeal bill requires complicity by organized medicine. If the bill becomes law, the bill allows HHS to get together with medical organizations ("peer cohorts") to create "quality measures" and "clinical practice improvement activities" under which physicians will "be assessed for purposes of determining, for years beginning with 2019, the quality adjustment" (penalty or bonus) to Medicare payments.

Score cards will be created. Physician compliance with government-prescribed quality measures will be scored from 0 to 100. Doctors with compliance scores of 67 or higher earn a 1% bonus. Those with scores of 34 or less receive 1% less pay. The government will provide "ongoing feedback" to doctors through data systems that track their compliance with government quality (compliance) measures. The bill appropriates $100 million from taxpayers to set up the new tracking and reporting system.

This is coercion with a capital "C." Physicians and other practitioners will have to choose between government tracking and scoring of their treatment decisions or maximum allowed compensation for care they provide to Medicare patients. ...

Continue Reading . . .


News to Know:

Congressman Says People will Die

At he CCHF "Freedom from Obamacare" event last week, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) related Obamacare to the history of the Soviet Union. He said Obamacare will 70 years. By that time, many people will have died unnecessarily. He said we live in one of the most medically advanced nations on the earth and that Obamacare will lead to dying by waiting. Louie shared from his heart a touching story of how an excellent doctor and a difficult procedure gave his family an extra fifteen years with his mother. Under Obamacare, the ending may have been quite different. As a former Chief Justice, Louie said the most sobering thing he has ever had to do was to hand down a death sentence. If Obamacare is not repealed, it may be a death sentence for many Americans. For a full recap of the event, click here.

CCHF Quoted in Hearing on Obamacare

Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) quoted CCHF President Twila Brase in a joint Obamacare hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform with its Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements. The July 17 hearing was titled, "Evaluating Privacy, Security, and Fraud Concerns with ObamaCare's Information Sharing Apparatus" The brief 7-minute congressional video with CCHF quote is here. Quote begins at 1:45.  But don't miss the final "gotcha" minute.

GOP Tries to Stop Obamacare Funding

Republican senators are pushing amendments to a spending bill that would defund IRS implementation and enforcement of Obamacare. U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Johnson  (R-WI) are trying to attach an amendment ot the transportation appropriations bill. Another government spending bill coming in September is likely to get a similar amendment from Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida. Meanwhile Sen.s David Vitter (R-LA) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have an amendment to force broader congressional and White House participation in government exchanges. (Politico, July 24, 2013)

Millions will Lose Employer Coverage

Obamacare will not increase employer-sponsored coverage. As a result of the 49-employee limit and the 30-hour standard, employers have reduced hires and employee hours are being cut to limit the employer's penalty for not providing coverage. The Heritage Foundation has created an informative chart that shows various estimates of how many employees could lose their insurance. No wonder labor unions are upset that President Obama's "keep your insurance" promise was full of hot air.

Obamacare Open to Fraud 

Republican lawmakers directly confronted Obama administration officials last week with questions regarding the security of personal health information submitted to the ACA exchanges through the $394 million Federal Data Services Hub. Alan Duncan of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, responded to questioning saying that his department has determined that "the work to meet the law's requirement [is] on schedule..." but that he "remains concerned about the protection of confidential taxpayer data that will be provided to the state and federal exchanges."

Obamacare Contractor Under Fraud Investigation

Over the Independence Day holiday, the Obama administration awarded a contract worth up to $1.2 billion to British company Serco, to help with processing Obamacare exchange applications. Now, according to Chris Jacobs of the Heritage Network, British authorities are investigating Serco for over-billing government contracts. In short, this means an overseas company under investigation for fraud is being asked to help verify applications for Exchange coverage at the cost of over $1 billion.



Seven Hospitals Dump Obamacare Program

According to first-year results, improving quality of care is easier than lowering health-care costs. Of the 32 health systems in the  ACA's Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) project, all 32 improved patient care and quality on government quality measures ranging from blood pressure to cancer screenings. However, only 18 of the 32 were able to lower costs for Medicare patients. Though all were able to improve care according to government-defined parameters (which may or may not actually improve care), seven hospitals are leaving the program to avoid financial risk. Why? Because ACOs must pay back the federal government if they do not achieve savings.


British Hospitals are Death Traps

Obamacare supporters often cite the health care systems of other countries (Britain, Canada, Australia) to support a switch to socialized medicine. However, according to a new report on Britain's National Health Service (NHS), the system so commonly praised by American progressives is in fact in near ruins. Fully 13,000 deaths have occurred in 14 NHS hospitals since 2005. One hospital was deemed to be a "death trap of neglect," and more recently Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh has determined that "neglect and needless deaths" mostly characterize the entire system. This is the system loved by the controversial Medicare administrator Don Berwick who the U.S. Senate refused to confirm, after which Berwick resigned.


Cutting Workers; Cutting Hours

Even if the ACA employer mandate is illegally delayed by Obamacare decree until 2015, Obamacare requirements are forcing employers to make difficult decisions. Under the ACA, employers with 50 or more full-time employees (full-time being 30 hours or more per week) must offer health coverage compliant with HHS regulations or face a $2,000 IRS "tax" penalty per employee (except that the first 30 employees are exempt). In response, many employers are cutting their workers' hours and/or scaling back their work force. This stifles jobs, lowers incomes, reduces prosperity, and hampers future company growth.


Obama's Fuzzy Math on Premium "Savings"

Last week, President Obama said Americans "saved $3.4 billion in health care premiums" because of Obamacare. However, Obama's math does not match the facts. According to the Obama administration's report, costs for a typical insurance policy average approx. $321 per month, compared with original estimates of $392/mo. This does not mean that premiums decreased, but that they increased less than expected. Premiums are $71/mo ($852/yr.) lower than expected, but still $1,250 higher than they would have been without Obamacare.

ACA's Not So Simple "Simple" Chart

Despite repeated attempts by Obamacare officials and supporters to explain and simplify the law so that Americans better comprehend it, the only thing that has been made clear by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is that Obamacare is nearly impossible to fully understand. The confusing labyrinth of programs, processes and regulations only cement the fact that Obamacare is a bureaucratic nightmare. Not even this " simplified chart" does anything to better explain the system.

GOP Congressman Opposes ACA Delays 

While most Republicans are leaping at the chance to delay Obamacare, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) voted with Democrats to reject bills that force a delay in the law's mandates. Griffith, an outspoken opponent of Obamacare (he likens it to an abscessed tooth), voted against delays because he thinks delaying the law may actually keep it alive longer. "I think we'll get to repeal quicker, the sooner it becomes clear that the administration cannot make Obamacare work," Griffith said.


Quote of the Week:

"The unmentioned tragedy of the electronic health record is how much psychiatric assessments have been dumbed down. The loss of information and intelligence due to the electronic health record is absolutely stunning. ...[E]lements that require a substantial narrative or interpretation by a thinking psychiatrist are totally gone. All that is left is a template of binary elements that are important only for billing and business purposes...Psychiatry without a narrative or a formulation or a rationale is not psychiatry at all. In the end that is what the ACA leaves us with." - George Dawson, MD, DFAPA, Staff Psychiatrist, Hazelden Foundation, Real Psychiatry Blog, July 11, 2013.



Stat of the Week:

62,900 - physician shortage two years from now, which is being exacerbated by the ACA according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.


Featured Health Freedom Minute:

No Law Allows Exchange Hub to Exist

Last week, the U.S. House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the intrusive Federal Data Services Hub. This is part of the national Obamacare Exchange system. If you think of state exchanges simply as data-gathering dummy terminals, then the Hub is the central server to these terminals. 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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