On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the passing of ObamaCare, the efforts by congressional Republicans to repeal, replace, or defund it appear to be in neutral. For many Americans in the medical profession, the impact of the bill has already been felt, and public nervousness about its content remains high.
In a lecture at the Heritage Foundation on the impact of ObamaCare on doctors, Rep. Michael Burgess (R.-Tex.), who was a practicing M.D. himself, hinted that the new House and its leadership might be currently unprepared for the fight to defund the massive bill. He said about a recent conference that discussed the House budget Continuing Resolution, “The conference was not ready to fight. The last thing you want to do is go into a fight like this, when possibly the government is shut down for a period of time, when your troops aren’t ready.” He continued to say bluntly, “Our troops aren’t ready.”
Burgess made it clear that he wanted Congress to take action against ObamaCare now, but that defunding the massive bill was complex and difficult to do under current circumstances. Burgess lamented about the future under ObamaCare, “We don’t want the next generation of physicians to be looking back in 20 years time and say, ‘Not only did we let this happen, why didn’t we fix it?’ ”
The impact of ObamaCare on doctors has already been felt, and the future of medicine is at stake. Martha Boone, M.D., said that not only has her personal income decreased in the past year, but many of her patients have expressed concerned about the impact of the bill on their lives. Boone said that patients’ complaints generally fell into three main categories.
One complaint was the lack of access to care. Bright young people who see declining benefits of working in health care—along with increased paperwork—will seek other promising professions. Boone said of the sudden lack of interest in medical careers, “Of all the doctors I know, only one has a kid who is going into medicine, and that is very frightening to me.”
The second problem Boone mentioned is that the legal costs to doctors raise costs for everyone, and that the system must be improved. Her ideas for improvement included putting caps on how much money a litigant can make in a lawsuit, called “non-economic recoveries,” and allowing doctors to take malpractice suits to mediation.
And lastly, Boone said patients worry that bureaucrats will ultimately make the decisions about personal health instead of doctors. She wondered, after explaining her years of expensive schooling and hands-on work with numerous patients, how is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen “Sebelius or someone in that position with an algorithm or a book or whatever they’re going to have, and their 50 new government agencies to help write regulations, going to make decisions for my patients?”
The problems that Boone highlighted echo many of the same arguments that Republicans and conservatives stressed in the run-up to the passing of the massive health care bill. The full effect and consequences of the bill will of course not be felt for years, so many of the pitfalls may not even be apparent yet.
Waiting for the Supreme Court to rule the bill unconstitutional will most likely take years if it even happens at all. The ruling by Florida dstrict Judge Robert Vinson has opened up the possibility that ObamaCare might be ruled entirely unconstitutional, but it won’t prevent the costs racked up in the meantime. With $105 billion already appropriated to ObamaCare through 2014 automatically, the cost could add substantially to the deficit of a budget already deeply in the red.
There is little hope of a fully repealing ObamaCare without a change in administration, but it doesn’t bode well for any future attempts if even defunding a small part fails. Having to defer continually to the Supreme Court for so many important decisions may explain why the latest Gallup poll has congressional ratings at 18%. The public generally lacks confidence in their collective judgment and doubts whether they have the ability to deliver on promises.
On the role of the high court, Burgess said, “The Supreme Court may save the day on this, the problem is when is that day?” He said that it most likely wouldn’t be until July of 2012 because of the long process that it must go through. For the health of medicine in America, that date could be too late.
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