The crowning achievement of the Obama presidency would have to be the dismantling of the American healthcare system, replacing it with a new federal bureaucracy and entitlement program. He will be remembered not for repairing the shortcomings of the best healthcare system in the world, but rather, for the creation of a system in which the politically connected, the rich, and the powerful will get preferential treatment, while the rest of us get shafted.
Once the Affordable Care Act became law, groups which were ardent supporters of Obama's healthcare reform plan soon learned what was in the bill, in the now infamous words of former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and they had buyers' remorse. They petitioned their friendly Washington politician, claiming that the law should not apply to their group, or business or state. From this were created waivers and exemptions- the beginning of selective application of a law that was intended for everyone.
Over 1400 such waivers were granted to businesses, corporations and labor unions, all of which had one thing in common- they were political supporters of and contributors to Obama and the Democratic Party. Thirty eight waivers were granted to posh establishments in Nancy Pelosi's home district in Northern California. Harry Reid obtained a waiver for his home state of Nevada because it was determined that it would destabilize the insurance market.
There has been no end to groups that want to opt out of this nightmarish law. The IRS- the enforcement arm of this law, empowered to collect the taxes and fees attached to Obamacare, and to determine everyone's eligibility for Obamacare subsidies, wants its employees exempted from the law. The President has selectively decided to exempt businesses from the employer mandate to provide insurance coverage for their employees, but not for the individual who is still bound by the law to purchase insurance.
Of course, the ultimate "chutzpah" is the exemption from Obamacare that the members of Congress voted for themselves and their staffs. The very people who were responsible for creating this law, support it for the masses but they refuse to live under its provisions. Pelosi commented that the Congressional staff works hard and deserves their generous healthcare package, implying that other hard working Americans do not.
The sense of "entitlement" that the political class harbors with regard to health insurance is just the beginning. Things will get even worse once the federal government has a say in all aspects of the healthcare everyone will receive.
When Hilary Clinton was trying to engineer her version of healthcare reform in the 1990s, she was critical regarding the amount of money spent on end of life care. But when her father had a massive stroke, from which he succumbed 3 weeks later, he received end of life care that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When the late Senator Ted Kennedy had a malignant brain tumor, he chose not to participate in the Massachusetts healthcare system which he helped to create, but instead traveled to Duke University in North Carolina, at taxpayer expense, for what he and his family felt would be superior care for his particular problem.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force was created to make recommendations (soon to be regulations) pertaining to the use of screening tests for various diseases- mostly cancer. They assign a letter grade to various screening tests. Only tests which receive an "A" or "B" grade will be approved by the board and hence will be a covered service. Prostate cancer screening using the PSA blood test was given an "F", despite no urological input into this decision and despite an impressive track record of uncovering early prostate cancer. President Obama decided to have the PSA test for himself.
None of these decisions by the various politicians are wrong. They are all appropriate for each individual because a medical decision is a personal one that should be made between an individual, their family and their physicians. What is inappropriate and hypocritical is when these politicians want to impose rules on the public that they are unwilling to live by. Just as we have seen selective enforcement of the rules governing insurance coverage, it would be naive to expect that when it comes to actual medical care, that things will be any different.
When the government rationing of care commences as most critics of Obamacare expect to see, (as we already see in countries with socialized healthcare like Great Britain and Canada), expect that those with political connections will move to the top of the list.
Do not think that this is hyperbole. Simply recall the case of Sarah Murnighan - the lung transplant recipient at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. What should have been a purely medical issue was pushed into the public and political arena. It was a media circus, and became political when Kathleen Sebelius became involved in a subject that she had no expertise with. When Sarah jumped to the front of the line, it meant that someone else got bumped. Expect this in the future, but without the media scrutiny, when political favors are granted for those in need of transplants, expensive or experimental treatments that will be restricted and controlled by federal agencies.
Look out George Orwell and Ayn Rand.
Hal Scherz is the President & Founder of Docs4PatientCare. He is a full time pediatric urologist at Children's Hospital of Atlanta and a clinical associate professor of urology at Emory University.
Please visit http://www.docs4patientcare.org
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