Obama is gutting Medicare
Under the guise of “reform,” President Obama is dismantling Medicare — dooming seniors to needless pain and disability and shortening their lives.
The stakes are high, because Medicare and the access it gives patients to medical innovations have transformed aging. Before Medicare, older folks languished in nursing homes or wheelchairs with crippling illnesses. Now, seniors dodge that fate, thanks to hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and heart procedures — all paid for by Medicare.
The American Journal of Public Health reports that a man turning 65 can expect to live almost five years longer than he would have in 1970 — and almost all of it in good health. What a priceless gift.
A gift Obama is snatching away.
The president’s Medicare reforms make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. His new payment rules shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place. New ER rules clobber seniors with bills for “observation care.” Under ObamaCare, hospitals get bonuses for spending less per senior, despite having higher death rates and infection rates.
Expect the Medicare Trustees’ annual report, due out Wednesday, to ignore these problems.
Obama’s latest assault is a 962-page regulation dictating how doctors treat patients. Precious minutes with your doctor are wasted completing mandatory reports for the federal government, and your ailment gets short shrift.
Physicians are glued to computer screens, following prompts, seldom making eye contact with patients. Renowned New York cardiologist Jeffrey Borer’s fed up: “I need to interact with my patients.”
“Doctors who want to provide individualized care” will have to “either opt out of Medicare or simply not comply,” explains Richard Amerling, past president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.
Obama’s rules are “far too complex and burdensome to be workable for most physicians,” warns John Halamka, a Harvard medical professor.
The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of one percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.
No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.
Obama’s rules spell trouble for seniors with cancer. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and being prodded to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of which medication is best for their patient. Dr. Debra Patt warned Congress this’ll hinder access to drugs like the immunotherapy that subdued former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer.
Another Obama rule penalizes hospitals for doing hip and knee replacements on patients likely to need rehab after surgery, causing hospitals to shun older patients with complex conditions. Grandma will have to settle for the painkiller as candidate Obama notoriously suggested.
Obama claims his rules reward quality instead of quantity. Don’t believe it. Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake has one of the worst scores in New York on patient outcomes, indicating its patients get more infections and die sooner from heart problems and pneumonia than at other hospitals. Yet Adirondack got a Medicare bonus because it’s a low spender.
Same is true of Massena Memorial Hospital in Massena, NY, and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Redwood City, Vacaville and Antioch, Calif. Sickening.
During Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, the president accused Republicans of plotting to “end Medicare as we know it.” A pro-Obama ad depicted a Republican pushing Granny’s wheelchair off a cliff.
Who’s really pushing Granny off the cliff? Obama himself, with Hillary’s helping hand.
Clinton proposes opening Medicare to people in their 50s. That would force seniors to compete with younger patients for resources — like in Britain and Canada, where seniors are labeled “bed blockers,” and certain treatments are reserved for younger patients with more life ahead.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.