During the presidential debate, Barack Obama tried to defend the IPAB – the “death panels” rationing board created by ObamaCare – by comparing it to the renowned Cleveland Clinic. “So at Cleveland Clinic, one of the best health care systems in the world, they actually provide great care cheaper than average,” said the President. “And the reason they do is because they do some smart things. They say, if a patient’s coming in, let’s get all the doctors together at once, do one test instead of having the patient run around with 10 tests. Let’s make sure that we’re providing preventive care so we’re catching the onset of something like diabetes. Let’s pay providers on the basis of performance as opposed to on the basis of how many procedures they’ve engaged in.”
Sounds great! Except… the Cleveland Clinic is a doctor-owned hospital, and those are illegal under ObamaCare. New and expanded doctor-owned hospitals can’t get Medicare certification any more. Construction at some 45 hospitals was actually halted in early 2011 when this provision went into effect.
The ostensible purpose of these regulations was exactly the opposite of what Obama praised the Cleveland Clinic for. Supposedly, physician-owned hospitals order too many tests, thereby running up Medicare costs. Obama’s rhetorical “model of efficiency” is, in legislative reality, treated as a miscreant in need of punishment.
And it was all scribbled into ObamaCare as a payoff to a special interest group, in exchange for their support, as the Weekly Standard explained back in January 2011:
This little-noticed but particularly egregious aspect of Obamacare is, by all accounts, a concession to the powerful American Hospital Association (AHA), a supporter of Obamacare, which prefers to have its member hospitals operate without competition from hospitals owned by doctors. Dr. Michael Russell, president of Physician Hospitals of America, which has filed suit to try to stop this selective building-ban from going into effect, says, “There are so many regulations [in Obamacare] and they are so onerous and intrusive that we believe that the section [Section 6001] was deliberately designed so no physician owned hospital could successfully comply.”
NewsBusters reported on the media’s curious lack of interest in this story – which is exactly the kind of David vs. Goliath tale they normally relish – in March 2012.
The actual CEO of the Cleveland Clinic has expressed fears that ObamaCare could stifle medical innovation. He described its rules as “replete with prescriptive requirements that have little to do with outcomes, and many detailed governance and reporting requirements that create significant administrative burdens.”
Along with the Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Health Systems, and Intermountain Healthcare, the Cleveland Clinic refused to participate in the early “Accountable Care Organizations” that are supposed to serve as one of ObamaCare’s primary instruments for controlling Medicare costs, citing the huge costs that would have been imposed on them, and the risk of penalties for failing to meet mandated spending targets. The medical device industry in Ohio is huge, and scared to death about Obama’s tax hikes on their business, fearing it may drive manufacturers overseas to one of the 17 nations currently rated more economically free than Obama’s America.
It’s logically possible to embrace the methods employed by the Cleveland Clinic while acting to eliminate or restrict the clinic itself, but that’s obviously not the impression Obama was trying to give during the debate. You’ll notice he didn’t end his little soliloquy to the efficiency of physician-owned hospitals by explaining, “Oh, and by the way, my health care reforms denounce this type of clinic as inefficient, and make it impossible to build any more of them.”
If you want to be charitable, you can chalk this up as more evidence that Barack Obama has very little idea what ObamaCare actually does. As then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained, we had to pass it to find out what was in it. If you’re feeling less charitable, consider it another example of how politically-connected interests can use Big Government power to make life difficult for their competition.