Monday, September 28, 2009

Senate Democrat Health Care “Reform” Bill Seeks To Turn Medicare Physicians Into Personal Death Panels

Senate Democrats do NOT want anyone to see the actual wording of the health care “reform” bill on which they are planning to vote, if indeed there ever is actual wording given the recent track records of Democrat legislators in the age of Obama to vote into law “bills” that are not yet fully reduced to actual writing.

The Washington Examiner reports (link):
A proposal by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., that would have required the Senate Finance Committee to post the final language of the $900 billion health care reform bill, as well as a Congressional Budget Office cost analysis, on the committee’s website for 72 hours prior to a vote was rejected 12-11. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., [who is expected to face a tough reelection race next year] was the only Democrat to side with [the Republicans]…. [Democrat] Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., himself admitted that “This probably sounds a little crazy to some people that we are voting on something before we have seen legislative language.” Indeed.
The reason for all this secrecy is obvious to everyone – despite all of their speechifying about “transparency,” the Democrats do not want the public to know the details of what they are trying to enact into law. They want to just stick with general platitudes about better health care for all.

Just one of the undoubtedly many features of the bill Democrats are trying to hide relates to what the Washington Times (link) calls “Death Panels By Proxy”:
Yes, there are death panels. Its members won't even know whose deaths they are causing. But under the health care bill sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, death panels will indeed exist - oh so cleverly disguised as accountants.
The offending provision is on Pages 80-81 of the unamended Baucus bill, hidden amid a lot of similar legislative mumbo-jumbo about Medicare payments to doctors. The key sentence: "Beginning in 2015, payment would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician's resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization." Translated into plain English, it means that in any year in which a particular doctor's average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor's payments by 5 percent.

Forget results. This provision makes no account for the results of care, its quality or even its efficiency. It just says that if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked. And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year's end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties. The National Right to Life Committee concludes that this provision will cause a "death spiral" by "ensur[ing] that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients."
This sordid episode is disgraceful behavior by the Democrat majority to ram through in secrecy a disgraceful provision, and all true patriots should call them on this.

John M Greco