WOLF: Obamacare: It’s a big, disastrous deal – Washington Times

WOLF: Obamacare: It’s a big, disastrous deal – Washington Times.

Democrats’ dissembling over costs is coming to light

By Dr. Milton R. Wolf – The Washington Times

Joe Biden may not always have complete command of the facts. Franklin D. Roosevelt did not hold his fireside chats on television. The word ‘jobs’ does not have three letters. And you do not need a slight Indian accent to shop at 7-Eleven or Dunkin’ Donuts. But give the vice president credit – his description of Obamacare is spot-on: “This is a big [expletive] deal.”

Yes, it is, Joe.

In a 2010 column titled “Obamacare’s unkeepable promises,” I compiled the top Obamacare lies that the president and other Democrats deployed. As I’ve said before, we did not get here because of simple distortions or exaggerations or even misrepresentations. Obamacare is the product of statements known by their makers to be untrue and meant to deceive – lies. Two years after the president signed his health care takeover into law, the enormity of those lies continues to grow.

“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Mr. Obama made this empty promise before the American Medical Association in June 2009, and the few remaining doctors still willing to associate with the AMA – only about 17 percent – believed it. America didn’t. Neither did the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), whose most recent analysis reveals that up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based health insurance as a direct result of Obamacare. As an aside, if your own doctor is still a member of the AMA, you might want to find a smarter doctor.

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Candidate Obama made this empty promise in 2008. Then he unleashed Obamacare, which raises taxes on everything from tampons to tanning salons, from MRI scanners to Q-tips. If your doctor uses it to serve you, its price tag just went up, and so did your bill. Moreover, taxes are going up on health insurance itself, if you dare to purchase a plan more comprehensive than your government thinks you need, a “Cadillac” plan. Obamacare contains no fewer than 20 new or increased taxes.

“We will bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.”

Candidate Obama made this empty promise in 2008. According to Kaiser Health News, the average family’s health care premium is up $1,300 and 6 in 10 Americans will see their health insurance premiums rise. One single Obamacare provision alone – the mandate to include “children” to age 26 on their parents’ plan – accounts for 20 percent of the increase.

Obamacare will cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.”

When Mr. Obama made this empty promise, Democrats were giddy that the CBO’s “certified price tag” was such a bargain and “would cut the deficit over 20 years by more than $1 trillion.” Suddenly, however, the latest CBO analysis projects that the price tag will double to $1.76 trillion. Putting Democrats in charge of spending is like asking Lindsay Lohan to guard the liquor cabinet.

“[Obamacare] is about jobs. In its life, it will create 4 million jobs – 400,000 jobs almost immediately.”

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi made this empty promise at the 2010 health summit. Of course, this comes from the same woman who thinks that doling out unemployment checks is the fastest way to create new jobs. Meanwhile, the CBO reported that Obamacare will destroy up to 800,000 jobs.

These barely scratch the surface of the Obamacare lies. They’re like cockroaches; when you see one, you know more are hiding somewhere. Of course, this begs an obvious question: If Obamacare is so great, why do Democrats lie about it so much? The government takeover of the American health care system and with it a sixth of our economy is a big deal. Lying to the American people to make it happen, as Joe Biden would say, that’s a big [expletive] deal.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.

John Boehner: The worst Speaker ever? – Tea Party Nation

John Boehner

John Boehner (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

John Boehner: The worst Speaker ever? – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

Is there any doubt that John Boehner is the worst Speaker of the House of Representatives ever?  Under his leadership, spending has gone up dramatically.  Instead of cutting spending as he was put in power to do, he has contributed to even more red ink.  Under his leadership, there has been no meaningful attempt to repeal Obamacare

 Now he is doing something else that only solidifies his position as the worst Speaker ever.

 What is it?

 John Boehner has decided to advance a Medical Malpractice bill to the floor of the House as a part of a deal to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board.  This Board is part of Obamacare and exists allegedly to cut the costs of Medicare.

 Medical Malpractice is not one of the sexy issues people get involved in such as spending.  A lot of conservatives take a look at the issue of Federal Medical Malpractice laws and say screw it; this only benefits the trial lawyers.

 Wrong!

 The Med Mal bill that John Boehner is going to allow to go forward to the floor of the House effectively limits non-economic damages to $250,000 and limits attorney’s fees.

 Here is a quick question.

 Can someone show me in the Constitution where such a concept is allowed?

 The laws regarding Torts, lawsuits and attorneys’ fees are regulated by the States. In other words, the States govern all attorney licensing and fee regulation.  They have since 1789.   If you sue someone in Federal Court for a Tort, such as Medical Malpractice, the Federal Rules of Procedure may control the case, but the laws that govern the case are state laws enacted by the state legislature.

 If the Federal government can simply impose these laws on states, it has the net effect of erasing the states.  The Tenth Amendment will become null and void.

 As a practical matter, the primary beneficiary of this law is the American Medical Association.   You remember the AMA.  They were one of the leading voices behind Obamacare.   Why are the Republicans rewarding the AMA?

 The AMA is like John Boehner.  The AMA could not find the Constitution, if it knew where to look and even if it found the Constitution, it could not understand it. 

 The Med Mal legislation is as unconstitutional as Obamacare is.  Perhaps that is why the AMA likes it so much.

 If the Federal government can reach down and tell states how tort law must be handled, and tell lawyers what their fees can be, what will stop them from telling doctors what their fees can be? Or for that matter what about plumbers or any other occupation?

 If the Federal government can tell people in a profession how much they can charge, how much of a stretch is it before the Federal government starts regulating how many people can enter a profession?

 Sort of sounds like our old friend, the former U.S.S.R. doesn’t it?

 In short, this is a huge overreach by the federal government.

 Does anyone remember the text from the Declaration of Independence?  Among other things, the Declaration says, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”  This line could easily be written about the Federal Government today.

 So much of what the Congress and the Federal Government does is blatantly unconstitutional.  This is one more overreach.

 We must stop this Congress from reaching beyond the limits of the Constitution and imposing laws from Washington that our founding fathers never intended them to enact and never intended for them to have the power to enact.

 Call your Congressman this upcoming week and tell him or her that Federal Medical Malpractice is unconstitutional.  Tell them to follow the Constitution and vote against this bill that is as unconstitutional as Obamacare!

ORIENT: Is the payment board a death panel? – Washington Times

THE NATURAL

THE NATURAL (Photo credit: SS&SS)

ORIENT: Is the payment board a death panel? – Washington Times.

Denial of treatment will be curtains for uninformed patients

By Dr. Jane M. Orient – The Washington Times

The curtain seems to be rising on Act 2 in the saga of piecemeal repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The first part to fall was the financially unsustainable long-term care portion, the Class Act. The next target is the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Even the American Medical Association, which endorsed Obamacare, is calling for repeal of the advisory board, citing worries about “formulaic” payment cuts, lack of stakeholder opportunity for “meaningful dialogue” with Congress and potentially limited access to care. As usual, the AMA is focused on the money.

The AMA avoids strong words like “death,” “dictatorship,” “rationing” and “unconstitutional.” Its concern about the specifics of the Independent Payment Advisory Board is also a diversion from the basic principles and mechanisms already in place, in which the AMA is complicit and heavily invested.

The worst part about the Independent Payment Advisory Board is the absolute power that is vested in an unaccountable 15-member oligarchy. If there ever was an unconstitutional delegation of power, this would be it. But there is no point in investing years and millions of dollars in taking the board’s decisions to the Supreme Court. Congress has ruled out any review of its diktats, either administrative or judicial.

Congress has always had the power to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts, and this instance shows that it has not forgotten. Congressmen usually try to duck their obligation to abide by their oath to uphold the Constitution by pretending that the Constitution is not what the document says but what five Supreme Court justices ultimately rule.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon Democrat, when asked about the constitutionality of the individual health insurance mandate in Obamacare – for which he voted – said: “Well, um, I’m not a lawyer. … That’s why we have courts. Congress often passes laws that are of dubious or questionable constitutionality.”

Congress created the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and it can and must do away with it. That would set a good precedent for a lot of its other ruinous creations, but it wouldn’t rescue Americans from the prospect of death by Medicare rationing.

With the Independent Payment Advisory Board gone, there still would be the Medicare Payment Review Commission and Medicare’s elaborate system of price controls – diagnosis-related groups or hospitals and the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale for physicians. The AMA owns the codes that determine whether Medicare can pay for a procedure, and the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee determines how Medicare dollars shall be divided. The committee has a lot in common with the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Covert rationing is rampant even now, though largely undetected. Medicare patients can tell when their appointments are denied or delayed, but cannot learn so easily when they are denied access to care because doctors don’t tell them it exists.

Services that can’t be paid for will disappear.

The key, unasked question, which Congress, Medicare and the AMA are trying to duck, is whether Americans have the right to spend their own money to obtain necessary, lifesaving care, even if “covered” (but denied) by insurance. Or must they be at the mercy of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, Blue Cross or other insurer, the Independent Payment Advisory Board or its successor? May physicians find a way to provide care that their patients value and accept compensation, or must all medical dollars flow through government-approved gatekeepers?

Many Medicare officials, and the AMA, are acting as if their desired answer is no.

What makes the Independent Payment Advisory Board or its equivalent a death panel is not constraints on what Medicare may pay, but the ban on balance billing or private payment.

When Josef Stalin decided to starve Ukraine, he confiscated all the food and exported it to the West or destroyed it. He also made it a crime to buy, sell or exchange things for food. He had a lot of people shot, but the vast majority simply perished of deprivation – the ultimate consequence of socialism.

If Americans lose the liberty to provide for their own medical care, some will get “free” contraceptives, abortions, mental health screenings or whatever else the czars think they should have. Others will get the “red pill” or the “blue pill” on the way to their premature deaths.

Dr. Jane M. Orient is executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Doctor coalition challenges the AMA and the White House on Obamacare | Washington Times Communities

Doctor coalition challenges the AMA and the White House on Obamacare | Washington Times Communities.

by Adam Frederic Dorin, M.D., MBA

SAN DIEGO, February 1, 2012 – Multiple physician groups have come out in strong opposition to the Obamacare legislation and to the under-handed, self-serving fashion in which the American Medical Association (AMA) gave its support for the law. The AMA sought to curry favor with the government to preserve their lucrative royalty monopoly on the medical billing codes that must be used to file all medical claims in the United States. These codes netted the AMA 72 million in the year 2010 alone, and evidently provided enough incentive that the AMA all but ignored the will of the majority of doctors in the country in their Obamacare endorsement.

“There is a reason that most doctors are not members of the AMA,” says Richard Willner, executive VP of America’s Medical Society (AMS), an AMA competitor. “Only 15% of doctors practicing in the community are members of the AMA because the AMA has ignored them, disregarded their ideas, and chosen money over principle in the battle to preserve the doctor-patient relationship.”

From the oldest, most consistently conservative medical group in the nation, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), to America’s Medical Society, to the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), to the group Doctors for Patient Care (Docs4PC), to the online physician forum SERMO and the new healthcare start-up group, Par80, and so many others, doctors all across the country have been clamoring for legitimacy to allow their rightful majority to be heard on the subject of healthcare reform. Other groups, such as Stop Taxing Us, co-founded by physician Gary Gonsalves, M.D., are also concerned about the fiscal and patient care pitfalls in the new healthcare legislation.

The following draft of ‘Ten Commandments for Healthcare Reform’ was authored by Marcy Zwelling-Aamot, M.D., Chairman of the Board and former President of AAPP; along with AMS President/Founder, Adam F. Dorin, M.D., MBA, Doctor Zwelling-Aamot is spearheading the 2012 doctors coalition meeting later this Spring in San Diego:

I. The patient/doctor relationship is confidential and personal. It should never be regulated by outside agencies.

II. Our patients’ privacy cannot be compromised.

III. Patients should always be free to choose their own doctor, hospital, and treatment plan. The patient and physician working together in trusted collaboration should make decisions about their medical care.

IV. Patients have the right to privately contract with any physician, provider, healthcare facility, or vendor that provides health related materials. Fee schedules and price lists should be readily available.

V. Actuarial risk is the business of payers, not health care providers. Insurers should assume the actuarial risk of those with pre-existing conditions by setting up high-risk pools. Insurers should make basic catastrophic, hospital only insurance available for individuals to purchase and own.

VI. Payment of benefits is between the payer (either private or public) and the insured. Payment for services should be between the patient and the doctor, hospital or other provider of care. The two should not be mixed.

VII. Any tax benefit provided for the purchase of health care or health insurance should accrue to the individual patient/insured. Employers may contribute to their employee’s health benefit without tax implications. Insurance contracts should remain under the jurisdiction of contract law in the state where the insurance is purchased and insurance should be able to be purchased across state lines.

VIII. There shall be no mandates.

IX: The right for justice must be secured for patients injured in the medical system. Doctors and caregivers should be protected from negligent abuse of the system.

X. The patient should determine quality of healthcare. Standards of care are the discretion of specialty organizations and should be published and available to all patients. Physicians within that specialty network should do peer review exclusively and confidentially.

One of the purposes of the physician coalition group meeting is to further clarify, perhaps modify, and expand upon the principles set forth in the healthcare ‘ten commandments’. The events organizers believe that true physician representation was lacking in the creation of the ‘Affordable Care Act’, and they seek to influence the discussion in a constructive manner as heated legal and political challenges to Obamacare are underway.

According to a recent Deloitte Center for Health Solutions study, and others since the passage of the ‘Act’, the combination of more low-paying health insurance patients and fewer doctors to care for them will be a “recipe for disaster.” Only one in three consumers still support the Obamacare law, and, according to President Mike Dillon of InstantHealthInsuranceQuotes.com, an increasing number of physicians who originally supported the AMA and the new law are changing their minds. Estimates are that the country will be 160,000 physicians short by the year 2025. With the AMA losing a known 12,000 members in the year 2010 alone because of their support for Obamacare, and an undisclosed number of additional membership defectors suspected to have impacted the AMA in the year 2011, it is clear that doctors are very concerned about the quality, fiscal, and practice management implications of healthcare reform in its current form.

The coalition of non-AMA doctor groups is concerned not only with patient access and the preservation of the sacred doctor-patient relationship, but also with the onerous rules that will be created and controlled by local, Obamacare-mandated Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). These mini-HMOs will deprive patients of the right to a full-range of pharmaceutical options and will restrict treatment choices and locations. ACOs will further expand confusing and often dangerous layers of bureaucracy in the form of specialty-tier drug pricing, ‘prior authorization’ requirements for medical visits and procedures, and opaque ‘medical necessity’ restrictions.

The coalition group of physicians, physician groups, medical leaders, politicians, and citizens will be assembling in San Diego this Spring. The conference event will be charged with producing a white paper on physician-driven healthcare reform necessities. As with prior challenges issued by America’s Medical Society, the San Diego event is offering an open debate challenge to the AMA and the White House to enter into a televised panel discussion on the merits and pitfalls of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act legislation from the physician’s perspective.

The name of the upcoming physician meeting is The Coalition Summit of Independent Physicians©--Protecting the Doctor-Patient Relationship in an Era of Government Mandates. The exact date and details on participating medical groups are pending; registration will be required, but attendance will be free. For initial details, see www.AmericasMedicalSociety.com.

Doctor Dorin is a Hopkins-trained, board-certified anesthesiologist, practicing in a large group in San Diego. He is a small business owner, a Commander in the US Navy Reserves, and the Founder/President of America’s Medical Society, Inc., (AMS) a non-profit corporation created to serve and educate physicians and the general public in matters of national health-care reform and medical politics.

ARMSTRONG: Our dead American Medical Association – Washington Times

 

Journal of the American Medical Association

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ARMSTRONG: Our dead American Medical Association – Washington Times.

Physicians’ advocate sold out to Uncle Sam long ago

By Dr. Richard A. Armstrong – The Washington Times

So, what’s up with the AMA? You know, the American Medical Association, venerated representative of the American physician, right? Wrong.

This long-lived and generally respected organization, one that represented more than 70 percent of American doctors in the 1960s, has become a shell of its former respectable self, now representing less that 15 percent of America’s practicing physicians. But, you say, wait – how can that be? Didn’t the AMA support President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?

Yes, it did, and as a result of that very public support and the incorrect notion that the organization still had the support of most American doctors, the act passed. The majority of American doctors were not pleased. That is an understatement.

You see, the once-proud AMA of the 1960s, the organization that fought a battle against Medicare in its current form, the one whose president, Dr. Edward Annis, famously predicted the problems we face today, sold its soul to the government in 1983.

Dr. Annis spoke to an empty Madison Square Garden in May 1962 because the media would not televise his direct response to President Kennedy’s speech pushing for the creation of Medicare, then called the King-Anderson Bill.

Dr. Annis predicted the top-down government controls; the rules and regulations; the giant bureaucracy, and even the fiscal insolvency that looms large today. But the train left the station in 1965 with the passage of Medicare, and in 1983, the AMA jumped on board – for money and the promise of control.

The government was looking for a way to standardize medical billing for Medicare, and the AMA had just the thing. We call it Current Procedural Terminology. The AMA owns it, and the organization signed an exclusive agreement with the government in 1983 that made it the coding system for all Medicare billing.

Gradually, the terminology became the standard for all medical billing – private insurance and government plans. The AMA has a government-granted monopoly, and it enjoys a lucrative stream of income as a result.

It is estimated that the AMA takes in between $50 million and $80 million per year from licensing fees and the sale of coding books, materials and other related products. This income dwarfs the amount generated from dues-paying physician members. See the problem? The AMA is a corporation in the business of selling and protecting its Current Procedural Terminology income stream, not its doctor members. The emperor truly has no clothes, and America’s working physicians have no effective representation to counter the massive power of the federal government and the new Affordable Care Law, which will control the entire health care economy by 2014.

Few Americans understood this before passage of the health care law. Unfortunately for American doctors, even fewer members of Congress were aware of this before their March 2010 vote, which ushered in this massive law.

In return for supporting the bill, the AMA was “promised” a fix to the flawed Medicare payment formula known as the “sustainable growth rate” or the “Doc Fix.” But that hasn’t happened, and there is not an extra $300 billion in the budget for the next decade to accomplish this fix.

So, what’s up with the American Medical Association? It doesn’t represent American doctors and never should have made that claim or allowed the American public to presume it did in 2009 and 2010. The AMA represents only itself.

Dr. Richard A. Armstrong is the chief operating officer of Docs4PatientCare (docs4patientcare.org).

Why ObamaCare is bad medicine for seniors – The Hill’s Congress Blog

 

OBAMA: THE SOCIALIST/MARXIST/COMMUNIST -- UNMA...

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Why ObamaCare is bad medicine for seniors – The Hill’s Congress Blog.

By Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.)

As a physician, access to quality care for our nation’s citizens, especially our seniors, has been and will continue to be a top priority of mine in Congress. During my 15 years as a practicing cardiothoracic surgeon, I treated hundreds of Medicare patients. My experience as a Medicare provider provides me firsthand knowledge of the negative impact the so-called Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) will have on America’s seniors.

Medicare is a solemn promise that we have made to our seniors. ObamaCare threatens this vital program and the health care of millions of Americans. ObamaCare will exacerbate existing access problems and places unelected bureaucrats between patients and their doctors.

According to the American Medical Association, one in three primary care doctors currently limit the number of new Medicare patients and more than one in eight are forced to refuse new Medicare patients altogether. Even with this information, the provisions in ObamaCare cut $575 billion from Medicare, including $233 billion from Medicare Parts A and B and $145 billion from Medicare Advantage plans. These figures come directly from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) chief actuary report on the financial effects of ObamaCare. These are facts provided by the Obama administration on the future funding of Medicare. Additionally, beginning in 2015, ObamaCare will impose caps on the spending growth of Medicare each year. With access already an issue for many seniors, these cuts and caps on future growth will lead to further reductions in access to vital medical services.

By CMS’s own estimates, these cuts to providers could jeopardize access to care for seniors and force roughly 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers to become unprofitable and drop out of Medicare. Rural community hospitals, like many throughout my district, will be most at risk. Anticipating fewer providers accepting Medicare, the issue of access to quality care for our seniors is real and was made worse with the passage of ObamaCare.

If over half a trillion dollars in cuts were not enough, ObamaCare included another provision that could result in a European style of rationing of care based on age or severity of health problems. This 15-member bureaucratic panel appointed by the president, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is intended to control future Medicare spending. If Medicare grows beyond its yearly target, then IPAB will make a recommendation of cuts. The only authority granted to Congress to prevent these recommendations from taking effect is to create our own package of cuts equally as large as IPAB’s or override the recommendations with a three-fifths super majority in the Senate. At the end of the day, cuts to Medicare will be all but guaranteed. With the previously mentioned cuts to Medicare, the only real option left is to begin rationing care to seniors by controlling the way physicians practice medicine. There is no reason to have unelected bureaucrats invading the doctor-patient relationship and manipulating medical decisions based on costs.

One ironic result of IPAB is the strong bipartisan support for its repeal. Several House Democrats were opposed to the formation of this board. Dr. Phil Roe of Tennessee, a fellow physician, introduced a bill to repeal IPAB, which has received the support of 221 members, including Barney Frank and 14 other Democratic Members of Congress.

In addition, ObamaCare does not adequately address the need to increase the number of physicians and other health care providers that will be required to care for an aging population. While there are provisions to incentivize medical students to become primary care physicians, other physician specialties are largely forgotten. Cardiothoracic surgeons, general surgeons, neurosurgeons and many others are needed to provide the specialized care our seniors deserve and have come to expect. It takes over a decade to properly train physicians in many surgical specialties and rural areas are already seeing physician shortages.

At one time, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Well, the American people have been paying attention and, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, support for ObamaCare is at an all-time low. The truth about the future of Medicare is this: ObamaCare creates access issues for those in need of quality medical care.

As the baby boomers begin to retire, we can no longer continue to delay important decisions about the future care of our nation’s seniors, but it is clear that ObamaCare is the wrong prescription.Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a physician, represents the 8th District of Indiana

SCHERZ: A Trojan horse named IPAB – Washington Times

SCHERZ: A Trojan horse named IPAB – Washington Times.

Unelected board would usher in socialized medicine

Perhaps the most underreported and, until recently, least discussed aspect of the Affordable Care Act is IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15-person unelected panel has yet to be selected; however, it will be a key to the success of Obamacare.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been quoted as saying that the majority of IPAB members must not be medical practitioners. Though some doctors may be represented, it is unlikely that they will be actively practicing clinicians who care for patients directly. Instead, the board will be populated by economists and other bureaucrats – “bean counters” – who will be given the responsibility of deciding how doctors caring for Medicare patients will get paid. It is anticipated that IPAB will drive payments so low that many doctors will be unable to offer certain services to patients, resulting in rationing of health care, which the administration fervently denies. Equally disturbing is IPAB’s unaccountability to Congress, but President Obama is unfazed and actually thinks its oversight regarding health care does not go far enough.

IPAB is the Trojan horse of Obamacare. Like a Trojan horse or a worm invading your computer, IPAB will infect and corrupt the entire system once it has been embedded as part of the health care bureaucracy. IPAB has almost limitless power over Medicare spending. Written into the Affordable Care Act are provisions that essentially make its decisions exempt from congressional oversight and impervious to administrative or judicial review. It is a nearly autonomous agency operating as an arm of the executive branch. Conveniently, this does not occur until after the 2012 elections.

As if this weren’t pernicious enough, President Obama thinks IPAB should have even more power – that of “automatic sequester,” which means it would be able to prevent Congress from appropriating any additional money for Medicare outside of its purview. The president’s handpicked deficit commission recommended that IPAB have a much wider range of power, including extending its authority to all of health care. This eventually would result in a single-payer, federally controlled health care system – a goal Mr. Obama has been working toward since at least 2007.

The bureaucratic framework is being constructed rapidly by the Department of Health and Human Services and will be reality unless the electorate wakes up and understands what is at stake in 2012. On our current trajectory, a European-style, socialized health care system is all but guaranteed. The GOP must do a better job of articulating this message effectively. Even Democrats in Congress recognize the danger that IPAB and Obamacare have created and are trying to distance themselves from it. It is a blatant, unconstitutional power grab that restricts the power of future Congresses. Rep. David P. Roe, Tennessee Republican, has introduced a bipartisan bill with more than 120 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, calling for the abolition of IPAB. A group of 272 medical organizations jointly signed a letter addressed to Congress urging IPAB repeal. Even the American Medical Association – one of the biggest supporters of Obamacare – says IPAB is an overreach and has called for its repeal.

It is time for doctors to wake up to the gravity of this threat and to understand that they have considerable influence and can reach millions of patients (voters) daily. They may be the last line of defense against what may prove to be the undoing of not just American health care, but our Constitution.

Dr. Hal Scherz is founder and president of Docs4PatientCare.

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