Liability Update/Health Care Focus - September 1, 2009
Real Americans vs. Organizing for America (Obama campaign organization), ACORN, and the Unions
by Donna Baver Rovito, Editor, "Liability Update/Health Care Focus"
Author, "Pennsylvania's Disappearing Doctors"
This LIABILITY UPDATE/Health Care Focus "newsletter" is a free service which I provide, as a volunteer, to help supply medical liability reform and other health care news and information, legislative updates, and political insight to physicians, patients, liability reform and quality health care advocates. NO ONE pays me to do this.
I am not employed by any physician or health care reform advocacy or liability reform organization, political party or candidate, although I volunteer for several. I am a quality health care, physician and patient advocate, breast cancer survivor, physician's spouse, journalist, political noisemaker, mom, and freelance writer. I am not, nor will I ever claim to be, unbiased, unlike many in the mainstream media.
Most information in this newsletter is copied and pasted from other sources, and will always be identified with links. Opinions and clarifications are my own, and do not reflect the official position of any physician or patient advocacy organization or tort reform or health care reform group unless stated as such. My opinions are placed in double parentheses ((xxxxxx)), and italicized.
This Update is emailed to approximately 10,000 health professionals, physician and patient advocates, and others interested in ensuring access to quality medical care through medical liability reform. It also appears on the following BLOG (when I remember to post it): http://liabilityandhealthnewsupdate.blogspot.com.
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Real Americans vs. Organizing for America (Obama campaign organization), ACORN, and the Unions
OK, those people are "real Americans," too, with as much right as we have to express opinions - but it's ironic how they're attacking everyone who opposes them as "organized" or "astroturf" or "manufactured" when they are sponsored and controlled by one of the most successful political organizations the planet has ever seen - i.e., the election campaign of President Barack Obama, which is now an official arm of the National Democratic party.
The amazing thing is that, while not even concealing the fact that they are "organizing" support for the Democratic health plans, recruiting college students for credit, PAYING "volunteers" and loading us busloads of union employees to attend events, they attack genuine grassroots organizations for doing the same thing!
To them, organizing in SUPPORT of the President's plans is a good thing, even noble. Organizing against him, however, is wrong, evil and unpatriotic. Those who do are "brownshirts," "astroturf," "radical" and "stupid" (thanks to Bill Maher for that one - scroll down and you'll see what I mean.)
The entry below for an event in Bucks County spells it out clearly - it's OK for THEM to organize, but it's not OK for anyone who disagrees with them: "There is a panel discussion held by the "teabaggers" starting at seven that they are using to spread their lies and propaghanda. The same "grassroots" group holding the discussion is the same one that has been flooding townhalls and OFA panel discussions causing disruptions. The well water has been tainted but not quite yet poisoned by their health care myths, it's time we organize and put a stop to it. This is a tea party patriots/kitchen table patriots event. They are funded through FreedomWorks, a conservative organization founded by known conservative Dick Armey"
GASP! A "KNOWN CONSERVATIVE" is ORGANIZING people?!?!?! There oughta be a LAW!!!!
"Known conservative" kind of sounds like "known serial killer" or "known sex offender" or something, doesn't it? There's a reason is sounds that way - because to the koolaid drinkers on the far left, "known conservatives" are in the same category - maybe even worse, since some folks on the left STILL think Mumia the cop-killer ought to be set free and that sex offenders are just victims who were probably abused as children....but there's NO excuse to be a "known conservative." And people who are conservative really ought to just "be quiet," at least according to our president and his supporters...
I've included several articles about the that's going on RIGHT NOW in support of the flawed health care plans. This organization isn't grassroots or "bottom up" protest - it's directly from the White House and the Democratic party. They're pulling out all the stops to engage all of their former campaign supporters to rustle up the same level of enthusiasm they had for the 2008 election. They're recycling photos of the President and the campaign slogans and logos in support of the health care plan. They're not even trying to HIDE who they are and who they work for. And to the main stream media, what THEY'RE doing is perfectly all right - better than all right, really, it's downright PATRIOTIC.
What WE'RE doing, on the other hand, is fake, bought and paid for by those evil special interests, and downright UNPATRIOTIC. (Frankly, it all reminds me of the poorly covered comments by the President during the campaign that he wanted to have a "civilian militia as large and well funded as the military.")
What all that means is that WE'RE GETTING TO THEM AND WE HAVE TO KEEP IT UP!
The public is paying attention, and our efforts have changed MANY people's minds, according to new polling data - like the fact that 19% or FEWER Americans think the health care plans currently under scrutiny will IMPROVE the quality, access, or cost of their medical care! A John Goodman piece about that follows.
There are also several pieces following about the doctors in Congress and what THEY think and what THEY'RE doing about health care reform. I suppose no one will be surprised to discover that MOST OF THEM don't support the President or the Democratic plans.
Many thanks to the folks who've responded positively to our Pre-Town Hall Meeting Rally which will be held outside of the Baker Center for the Arts at Allentown's Muhlenberg College beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Please bring brief, polite signs - health care professionals, please wear scrubs, white coats, etc. Please contact me at ROVSPA@aol.com to let me know if you're coming.
There are several other health care events in our area - listings will follow after the end of this Commentary.
Please make an effort to attend as many health care events in your area as possible. You can find information on your legislators' websites or go to the Meetup.com sites for health care events. There's information on Facebook and organizations that oppose government-run healthcare - I sent links in previous Updates. No, we don't have a single source, like the WHITE HOUSE, to find out what's going on - but what we DO have are noisy little grassroots organizations that are cropping up all over the country. JOIN THE ONE IN YOUR AREA and get involved. America's future may well depend on it.
You're making a difference - please keep it up!
And if you happen to be a physician or a physicians' spouse, a really GOOD way to make a difference is through the AMA Alliance - whether you agree or disagree with the AMA's position on health care reform - for more info, please go here: http://www.amaalliance.org/
(From Casey's own website)
A Public Forum with PA Sen. Bob Casey
On Wednesday, September 2nd, I will be hosting a public forum to discuss the Affordable Health Choices Act, the Senate's Health Care Bill. Details for the forum are below. Please plan to come early. Doors will open an hour before the event and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wednesday, September 2 at 11:15 am
East Stroudsburg University
220 Prospect Street
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Doors open to the public at 10:15 am.
Seating is first-come, first-served.
((Some local folks are planning a counter-protest to this - please go to http://www.meetup.com/We-The-People-of-the-Lehigh-Valley-PA/ for more information - or email Gerard at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate.))
We Can't Afford to Wait Vigil (Let's Get It Done: Health Insurance Reform Now Events)
Please invite friends and family and bring candles and signs to the park and parking lot at the Broad Street, Route 313, split in Quakertown for our part in a nationwide peaceful vigil in support of health care reform, health care insurance reform that includes 'the public option' starting at 7:00 p.m.
Let us inform the general public the truth about health care and insurance in our country and what Congress is doing to improve both.
Time: Wednesday, September 2 from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Host: Stephen Nathan
Contact Phone: 215-804-6807
Location: Broad Street Parking Lot (Quakertown, PA)
Quakertown, PA 18951
Directions: The park and parking lot at the the Broad Street/Route 313 split in the center of Quakertown.
Associated Groups: Perkasie for Obama, Upper Bucks Organizing for America
: Join Organizing for America members across the country in sending their members of Congress back to D.C. with a clear message about health insurance reform: Let's Get It Done!
Health Care Vigil (Let's Get It Done: Health Insurance Reform Now Events)
Meeting at Starbucks on Main Street, proceed down Main to theatre then head to Court House. Please bring candles and paper cups.
Time: Wednesday, September 2 from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Host: ricardo rodriguez
Location: Starbucks (Stroudsburg, PA)
745 Main Street
Stroudsburg, PA 18301
: Join Organizing for America members across the country in sending their members of Congress back to D.C. with a clear message about health insurance reform: Let's Get It Done!
Rally For Health Care Reform NOW!! (Let's Get It Done: Health Insurance Reform Now Events)
Come out and show support for Obamas health care reform bill through a rally and protest. There is a panel discussion held by the "teabaggers" starting at seven that they are using to spread their lies and propaghanda. The same "grassroots" group holding the discussion is the same one that has been flooding townhalls and OFA panel discussions causing disruptions. The well water has been tainted but not quite yet poisoned by their health care myths, it's time we organize and put a stop to it.
This is a tea party patriots/kitchen table patriots event. They are funded through FreedomWorks, a conservative organization founded by known conservative Dick Armey. This is a peaceful protest so please bring signs, literature and other reform information to this event to help stop the lies and spread the truth.
Time: Tuesday, September 8 from 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Host: Eric Frentzen
Contact Phone: 215 939 8286
Location: Bucks County Community College (Newtown, PA)
275 Swamp rd
Newtown, PA 18940
: Join Organizing for America members across the country in sending their members of Congress back to D.C. with a clear message about health insurance reform: Let's Get It Done!
((This is a grassroots doctors' rally in Washington - several other groups, including the national TEA Party organization, are involved as well, so please check it out.))
Practicing US physicians uniting to represent the interests and concerns of both, patients and doctors in the healthcare reform debate. D4PC endorses the concept of needed healthcare reform, but we recognize it can only be accomplished by proceeding in a cautious and responsible manner. Our recommendations will enable us to reach this goal without requiring the nationalization of the entire American healthcare system.
Docs4PatientCare Proposed Alternatives For Effective Healthcare Reform:
There is no logical reason to hastily pass this legislation by a predetermined deadline. We have one chance to get this right.
Bring "all" stakeholders together to help assure a meaningful and sustainable reform by considering many recommendations and proposals.
Adopt a patient-centered approach to healthcare reform that empowers patients and promotes freedom of choice.
Use the power of government to assist the uninsured obtain health coverage through modification of the tax code, such as tax credits and vouchers.
Reduce high insurance premiums by opening up patient risk pools across the entire nation, thereby, diffusing risk.
Allow the individual/family to be the "owner" of the policy making their health care coverage portable and available if they lose their job or move to a new place of employment. This will eliminate exclusion from the new employer's plan for a “pre-existing” health issue and also eliminate a waiting period to qualify for enrollment.
Encourage and expand Health Savings Accounts. Tax-Free savings vehicle for planned and/or unexpected medical expenses.
Tort Reform. The costs to our healthcare system secondary to the practice of defensive medicine are over $100 billion annually, or $2,000 per family.
Insurance Reform. Guarantee insurability due to pre-existing illness. Eliminate Insurance company antitrust exemption.
((More info on the Toomey-Sestak town hall meeting - if you can't get in, come to our Rally at 5 p.m. outside the Baker Center for the Arts on the Muhlenberg College Campus - and then you can go home and watch it on WFMZ - Channel 69, or sign up on Pat Toomey's website to see it live online....details follow in the next piece from the Toomey campaign.))
2 Specter foes team up for meeting on health care
By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press Writer Peter Jackson, Associated Press Writer – Mon Aug 31, 4:43 pm ET
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Political bedfellows don't get much stranger than Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey.
Toomey is the conservative Republican seeking Sen. Arlen Specter's seat. The ex-congressman's popularity among the GOP faithful prompted Specter to bolt from the party in April.
Sestak is the congressman who is defying influential Democratic Party leaders, including President Barack Obama, by challenging Specter in next May's primary.
Together, the two men likely to be Specter's toughest opponents in his bid for a sixth term are teaming up to stage a town hall-style meeting on health care this week in Allentown. Wednesday night's event at Muhlenberg College will draw a stark contrast between opposite ends of the political spectrum and help citizens understand the implications of the reform debate, both candidates said.
"This is pure good governance," Sestak insisted.
Sestak strongly advocates optional government-run insurance coverage as a key element of a comprehensive reform plan, like the pending House bill he helped write.
Toomey calls Sestak's viewpoint "extremely liberal." He prefers tax incentives to help Americans who buy private health insurance and medical malpractice reforms.
Their event together comes as Obama is struggling on his top domestic priority — a plan to provide health coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it and to rein in soaring costs.
Congressional Republicans are all but united in opposition to the White House proposal, while the president is under fire from liberal Democrats for not advocating more strongly for a public insurance option. Public backing for the president's initiative has shrunk in opinion polls, and opponents have drowned out supporters at many public meetings on the subject.
Sestak and Toomey deny that their unorthodox collaboration is a political stunt. Sestak proposed the meeting following an e-mail skirmish on the issue with Toomey, who promptly accepted.
It was "one of those spur-of-the-moment things," Sestak said.
The two have little in common except a desire to oust the incumbent. Both candidates accuse the 79-year-old Specter of flip-flopping on a central element of the health care debate.
"They've made an informal pact" to go after Specter, said Terry Madonna, a professor and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
Toomey, 47, lost the 2004 GOP primary to Specter by about 17,000 votes out of 1 million cast. He faces competition for the 2010 Republican nomination from anti-abortion activist Peg Luksik.
Toomey's strong GOP poll numbers persuaded Specter to leave the party earlier this year, and a Quinnipiac University poll in July showed Toomey neck and neck with Specter in a hypothetical general election matchup.
Sestak, 57, is a retired Navy vice admiral from the Philadelphia suburbs — the highest-ranking former military officer ever elected to the House, where is serving his second term. In addition to Specter, he faces opposition in the Democratic primary from state Rep. Bill Kortz, a former U.S. Steel Corp. manager from western Pennsylvania.
Toomey said Specter was not invited to particpate because he might muddle the discussion.
"With Arlen Specter, you never know who's going to show up," said Toomey, who served as president of the Club for Growth, a Washington-based conservative group, for several years until he stepped down in April to run for Senate.
Sestak said Specter "has already reversed his position and followed my leadership."
In April, Specter ended a more than four-decade relationship with the Republican Party, saying it had grown too conservative for him to win the nomination in 2010. He initially angered some Democrats by expressing opposition to a government-run insurance option, but has since said he would support optional public coverage so long as the government-run plan is subject to the same rules as private insurers.
During Congress' August break, Specter has defended Obama's health care agenda at a series of town hall meetings around the state, sometimes amid angry outbursts from opponents.
Specter campaign spokesman Chris Nicholas declined to comment on the Sestak-Toomey event. He said the senator has appeared with Sestak several times and looks forward to similar appearances with Toomey after the GOP primary.
Wednesday's 90-minute discussion in Toomey's hometown will be moderated by Christopher Borick, a political-science professor and pollster at Muhlenberg. He said he will strive to keep Sestak and Toomey focused on health care.
"Some of the previous discussions that I've seen have been more of a shouting match and people doing a lot of talking and not listening," Borick said
((From the Toomey campaign))
Pat will participate in a town hall meeting on health care with Joe Sestak tomorrow, Wednesday, September 2, 2009 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm.
For those unable to attend the town hall in person, we'll be streaming the event live and have an interactive forum at ww.toomeyforsenate.com.
This event will be a tremendous opportunity for you to take a closer look at what side of the issues Pat is on and what side Joe Sestak is on. Pat's belief is that targeted and specific solutions will reduce health care costs and provide greater access to care. Joe Sestak supports a plan that will put everyone into a one-size-fits-all government-run health care system.
Congress is going back to Washington in one week and this could be your last opportunity to voice your concerns before they vote on a government-run option.
So please join us tomorrow at www.toomeyforsenate.com to watch the town hall live and jump in on the debate yourself during our live, real-time online forum. And please be sure to tell your family and friends about this important event.
Thanks for your continued support and friendship,
Toomey for Senate
Health Alert The Pundits Versus the People
Aug 31, 2009
by John Goodman
My faith in democracy is being restored. Take a look at the chart below…..then look again…..and again.
Q: If the health care system is changed, do you think ….. will get better, worse, or remain the same?
These are some of the most remarkable polling results I've ever seen. If they don't knock your socks off, you just don't understand the situation.
Note first that these opinions are not directed at the Kennedy/Dodd bill or the Waxman bill or at a likely Baucus/Grassley bill. They are opinions about health reform as such, or about any reform bill that is likely to pass and be generically referred to as "Obama Care."
Note second that (a) these are the same people who gave Barack Obama a landslide election victory last November, that (b) Obama's signature domestic policy issue was health care and that (c) Obama claimed we needed reform for the express purpose of solving the problems of cost, quality and access.
Note third that the opinions reflected in the poll have not been vocalized anywhere on Capitol Hill or anywhere in the mainstream media. Sure, there have been Republican critics of Democratic proposals, and the mainstream media has questioned whether the bills will accomplish all that the sponsors are hoping for. But virtually no politician or news reporter or editorial writer or network talking head has gone so far as to say: not only are these plans not going to work, they are going to make every one of our health care problems worse than they would have been. [Okay, the Wall Street Journal editorial page comes close to being the exception.]
Note finally that the opinions held by the general public are almost certainly correct. As we have explained at this blog on many occasions for well over a year now, the fundamental structure of Obama Care is deeply flawed. So much so, that almost any version of it will likely make our health care problems worse — not better.
Here is a parting question for you to ponder: Why are the people so much more perceptive than the pundits who try to tell them what to think?
((Hey, Mabel, let's buy us some of those shiny young college students....))
College kids recruited to join Obama's 'army'
Earn credit for pushing 'change,' working on president's 'agenda'
Posted: August 25, 2009
9:03 pm Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Organizing for America offers opportunities for college credit
President Obama's army of citizen volunteers is now actively recruiting college students in states across the country to "build support for President Obama's agenda" – and earn college credit while advocating for "change."
Obama for America, Obama's 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and is now known as Organizing for America, or OFA. The movement some call "Obama 2.0" is now recruiting students and offering to provide credits toward degree plans in exchange for their advocacy skills.
A message from OFA national volunteer coordinators announcing the recruitment campaign and internship opportunities has been posted on several websites and on Facebook.
"Students and young people were critical in building the movement that helped elect President Obama last year. By becoming a National Organizing Intern, you'll be part of the grassroots effort to make the change we fought for a reality in 2009 and beyond," it states. "As an Organizing Intern, you'll work side by side with OFA staff and community leaders to help build support for President Obama's agenda. You'll learn core organizing principles that are crucial for any campaign and play an important role in building our organization in your state."
The announcement continues, "President Obama describes his time as a community organizer by saying: 'It was the best education I ever had, because I learned in those neighborhoods that when ordinary people come together, they can achieve extraordinary things.'
"This is your chance to get that same education.
"If you're passionate about making sure every American has quality health care, reviving our economy, and building a clean energy future, don't miss this great opportunity. No previous experience is needed in order to apply."
The group's website declares: "Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is empowering students across the country to build on the movement that elected President Obama and help bring about his vision for change."
Volunteers must commit to working at least 12 hours a week from Sept. 1 to Dec. 11 and, according to the OFA website, may receive college credit from their schools for doing so.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that OFA workers have been knocking on doors and making phone calls in Iowa and Nebraska to garner support for Obama's health care initiative.
"It is the first time in recent memory that a presidential candidate has maintained an active, grassroots presence in either state after an election," the newspaper reported.
"Iowa has almost nonstop presidential activity," said Norm Sterzenbach, executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party. "But the idea of having a sitting president continuing an organization is fairly unusual."
According to the Washington Post, Obama used the same standing political army earlier this year to gather signatures in support of his economic plan. The president asked his supporters to go "block by block and door by door" in every state.
In March, when volunteers canvassed high-traffic locations in Birmingham, Ala., to support Obama's health care, education and energy policies, one event organizer told the Birmingham News, "We are looking for supporters. We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."
In an Aug. 5 e-mail, Obama once again urged his supporters to help him gain support for his health care plan:
… Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you're counting on them to act.
But these canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in July that OFA has hired staff in 38 states and intends to expand to all 50 states. OFA announced that it has organized 1,906 local events in all 50 states – from press conferences to community discussions – since it launched its health care campaign in June.
As WND reported, Obama has been accused of "planting" OFA volunteers and supporters at many of his recent town hall forums so they may ask pre-selected questions. The White House insists that attendees are selected at random, but a closer look reveals many questioners range from Obama campaign donors and Organizing for America volunteers to single-payer health care lobbyists and Service Employees International Union members.
According to New Hampshire's DMUR 9 News, Obama health care supporters, including OFA members, are being driven to town hall meetings by the busload:
One citizen filmed a crowd of activists at a recent town hall meeting. Each attendee held a printed placard promoting health "reform" and addressing numerous "myths" and "facts" about Obama's plan. Asked where she got the sign, a woman said, "Organizing for America. We're a grass-roots organization and proud of it."
Other town hall attendees have reported seeing volunteers handing out pre-printed fliers and posters from OFA.
WND also reported that help wanted ads are appearing on Craigslist that offer to pay citizens between $9 and $16 an hour to lobby for the passage of Obama's health care. One Sacramento Craig's List ad declares, "Help pass Obama's health care reform! Earn $325-$550 per week!"
Another Craigslist ad in San Francisco invited prospective applicants to "join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen."
The same ad ran in the Craigslist Washington, D.C., section. Similar ads were posted in Minneapolis, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, sections.
Organizing for America is also calling on Obama supporters to show up at local representatives' offices to show support for health reform.
"As you've probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it's getting ugly," a letter from Organizing for America states. "Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can't let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand."
((That's US, folks - "Special interest attack groups, " "partisan mobs with lies," and "extremists."))
The group even offers to provide "information to drop off about how the health care crisis affects your state (with the option of adding your personal story)" and "a step-by-step guide" for pushing health "reform" at district offices.
Health-Care Reform, One Stop at a Time
Obama Supporters Organize Bus Tour, Campaign-Style Events Across U.S.
A rally to promote health-care reform legislation drew people to Times Square in New York over the weekend. (By Stephen Chernin -- Associated Press)
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 31, 2009
President Obama's supporters hope to recapture the energy of last year's triumphant election campaign in a bid to regain control of the health-care debate, planning more than 2,000 house parties, rallies and town hall meetings across the country over the next two weeks.
The initiative began Wednesday with a rally at a labor hall in Phoenix that featured the Obama sunrise logo and placards that became fixtures of the 2008 presidential campaign. ((But they're not "organizing" or anything.....))
Organizing for America, a nationwide group of Obama supporters run by the Democratic National Committee, also brought along a colorful bus featuring the slogan, "Health Insurance Reform Now: Let's Get it Done." The vehicle is on an 11-city tour advocating for health-care reform.
"We think that change happens with neighbors talking to neighbors, and these rallies reflect that," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan. "That's how we won the campaign in the fall, with grass-roots organizing, and that's what we will see in these events going forward." ((I think they're a little confused about the meaning of "grassroots...."))
But the effort also underscores the unexpected difficulties faced by Obama and his allies in trying to push a health reform plan through Congress in the face of concerted Republican opposition and growing voter unease. Conservative activists have dominated the public debate in recent weeks with dire warnings and noisy disruptions at town hall meetings, while national polls show declining support for Obama's ambitious plan to widen health insurance coverage.
The DNC kickoff rally in Phoenix attracted about 1,200 reform supporters, but a raucous meeting on the other side of town hosted by Obama's former presidential campaign rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attracted hundreds more -- most of whom were loudly opposed to Democratic reform proposals.
"The grass-roots anger over the spending and the size of the health-care grab by Obama is real, and all these staged rallies are not going to change that," said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative Washington-based group that is rallying opposition to Obama's reform plans. "I think it's an acknowledgment that they're in trouble."
Katie Wright, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said that "no amount of rallies can hide the fact that the Democrats' government-run plan will raise costs, increase the deficit and put bureaucrats in charge of making personal health-care decisions."
Democrats and health reform advocates say the GOP contentions are false, and they hope to catch lawmakers' attention before they return to Washington after Labor Day. The House and Senate will resume wrangling over five competing health reform bills under consideration in Congress, all but one of which include a proposed public insurance option to compete with private insurers. The estimated cost of overall reform has hovered around $1 trillion over 10 years, though Obama has pledged to make the plan "budget neutral" through a combination of cuts and new revenue.
In many districts, the August recess has been defined by crowds of conservative opponents who have mounted protests and flocked to town hall meetings to confront Democratic lawmakers. The debate has been further clouded by allegations that Obama aims to bar Republicans from having health insurance or wants to form "death panels" to determine who receives medical treatment. No such policies are proposed.
"There were a lot of successful town halls and meetings over the recess, but the ones that got the most attention were those where angry people got up and yelled," said Jacki Schechner, spokeswoman for Health Care for America Now, a liberal coalition helping to organize many of the events. "We want to make sure the message that they take back to Washington is that the majority of the public stands behind the need for reform and that they need to get it done now."
The events range from modest gatherings that the Obama team refers to as house parties to rallies featuring the health reform bus, which as of Sunday had stopped in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Des Moines and St. Louis. Still to come are Milwaukee; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.
The DNC is not the first group to use an eye-catching bus in the health-care debate, however. Patients First, an arm of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, ended a six-week tour on Friday that featured a bus wrapped in a giant red hand and the proclamation: "Hands Off Our Health Care!"
Group spokeswoman Amy Menefee said that although "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," she doubts the DNC-backed efforts will have much impact on the debate. She and other reform opponents also say the push seems phony.
"It's hard to calculate what the response will be when you're asking people to rally for bigger government," Menefee said of the Obama group's efforts. "That's essentially what they're asking of people, and I think on a personal, motivational level it's very different than the people on our side."
Democrats Rally Push-Back on Health Care
Aug. 31, 2009 7:02 a.m.
By George Nelson
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- A Democratic pressure group, Organizing for America, is pushing back this week to galvanize support to reform health insurance in a campaign that includes a nationwide bus tour with stops scheduled in Pittsburgh and Columbus and local lobbying efforts.
The Let’s Get It Done tour, which began Wednesday in Phoenix, is one component of a campaign that encompasses more than 2,000 events through Sept. 8, when Congress reconvenes, said Alec Gerlach. Gerlach is regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. Organizing for America, an arm of the DNC, grew out of Barack Obama’s campaign for president and today actively promotes his agenda.
The goal is to make members of Congress aware of the level of support for reforming the delivery of health care and health-care insurance and counter. “We want to get the message across to members that they can support health insurance reform and constituents will support them,” Gerlach said. That message is one that members of Congress might not be getting from how the media has covered reform, he added.
News reports of town hall meetings have often focused on the strident, often angry, opposition that has marked these sessions, he said. Opponents have also engaged in misinformation campaigns aimed at distorting provisions of the proposals before Congress, the most notorious example being the allegation that a provision to pay for end-of-life counseling would mean “death panels” who would determine whether the elderly or disabled would receive health care. The claim was almost immediately disproved, yet has continued to gain currency among opponents of the Democrats’ overhaul effort and of Obama himself.
A question in a health care survey distributed by the Republican National Committee has been interpreted to suggest that the government would use voter registration, on which citizens may identify their political party, “prompting fears that GOP voters might get discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democratic-imposed health care rationing system,” Gerlach said.
Organizing for America also has collected “thousands of declarations” from supporters who have signed the three principles of the Democrats’ proposed health insurance reform, said Greg Schultz, state director for Ohio. Scheduled events in the Buckeye State include delivering declarations from constituents in the 17th congressional district to the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who he said is “very supportive” of reform.
Representatives of the pressure group will be dropping off the declarations “to let his office know he has the support in the Valley to fight the fight” as he has, Gerlach said. “We really want to highlight the broad support we have from every corner of the state and every corner of the Mahoning Valley,” he said.
Other events organized by advocates of health reform in the Mahoning Valley included a “Do it for Teddy-Cyber Sunday” event in Salem this weekend. Teddy refers to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who championed health care reform.
The organizer of Cyber Sunday, Chris Hanousek of Salem, said her interest in science and medicine goes back to her childhood, and health care for all has been a passion her adult life. “I just think that whether you have the money or not, everyone deserves health care. It should be a right,” she said.
At minimum, Hanousek said, the nation must have a public option health care plan for businesses and individuals who can’t afford private insurance. “Our businesses, particularly manufacturing, will not be able to compete on the world market unless we can reduce their cost for health care benefits,” she said. Lowering Medicare eligibility to age 50 or 55 “would be the single action we could take to give our manufacturing base the ability to compete globally,” she added. As gross domestic product rises, so will tax revenues, and health care reform will pay for itself, she asserted. ((Oh, BULL.......and clueless, too....))
Copyright 2009 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
((How some far-left liberals think health care should get done - Well, Bill Maher, anyway, and he must be the smartest guy in the country, since he announces regularly how stupid everyone else is....))
MAHER: But yeah, I mean, you know, they're talking about 60 votes. Forget this stuff, 60. They can't get Americans to agree on anything, 60%. 60% of people don't believe that evolution in this country. He just needs to drag them to it. Like I just said, they're stupid. Just drag them to this. Get healthcare done, you know, with or without them. Make the gang of six an offer they can't refuse. This Max Baucus guy, he needs to wake up tomorrow with an intern's head in his bed. ((Now THAT's classy....))
Uncovered Video: Obama Explains How His Health Care Plan Will ‘Eliminate’ Private Insurance
((Not right away, of course, it might take a while....))
((Please watch this very well done interview with former AMA President Dr. Donald Palmisano, who currently heads up the Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights - Dr. Palmisano is one of my favorite people...))
We're a growing non-partisan grassroots organization made up of patients, healthcare providers, advocacy groups, and engaged citizens who are concerned about the current national healthcare debate.
For more than thirty years I practiced medicine in New Orleans and was the president of the American Medical Association (2003-2004) and I've always fought for my patients. And now a new fight is upon us.
Here in the United States, we have the best healthcare system in the world. Surgeons can perform heart surgery on a baby that is still in utereo. Trauma doctors can save a person who has been badly injured in a car crash. And oncologists have become miracle workers for for families across the country.
People come from all over the globe to see our doctors and other healthcare providers and get the care that their countries' lack.
The Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights wants to make sure the U.S. remains the leader in healthcare.
But now there are some healthcare reform proposals in Washington that would actually weaken our healthcare system. They could lead to fewer treatment options for patients, and stifle medical research and innovation into the medical miracles of tomorrow.
I’m asking you to join me and work together to make sure that Washington doesn’t enact legislation that would hurt the healthcare system that has saved and improved the lives of millions of our citizens.
Please take some time to look around our website. If you have any questions, please contact the Coalition and if you would like to join me, please sign up now.
Thank you so much for visiting the Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights.
Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD, FACS
ABC, NBC Won't Air Ad Critical of Obama's Health Care Plan
The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June hosted at the White House
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.
The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.
"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately will decimate the quality of health care for seniors."
Adams said the advertisement is running on local network affiliates in states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Maine and Pennsylvania. But although CBS has approved the ad for national distribution and talks are ongoing with FOX, NBC has questioned some of the ad's facts while ABC has labeled it "partisan."
"The ABC Television Network has a long-standing policy that we do not sell time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial public issue," spokeswoman Susan Sewell said in a written statement. "Just to be clear, this is a policy for the entire network, not just ABC News."
NBC, meanwhile, said it has not turned down the ad and will reconsider it with some revisions.
"We have not rejected the ad," spokeswoman Liz Fischer told FOXNews.com. "We have communicated with the media agency about some factual claims that require additional substantiation. As always, we are happy to reconsider the ad once these issues are addressed."
Adams objects to ABC's assertion that his group's position is partisan.
"It's a position that we would argue a vast majority of Americans stand behind," he said. "Obviously, it's a message that ABC and the Obama administration haven't received yet."
Dick Morris, a FOX News political analyst and the League of American Voters' chief strategist, conceptualized the advertisement and said its purpose was to "refocus" the debate on health care reform.
"I feel the whole debate on health care reform needed to be refocused on the issue of Medicare," he told FOXNews.com. "Most of the debate had been on issues of socialized medicine and cost. I felt that the impact of the legislation in cutting the Medicare program and enforcing rationing needed to be addressed."
Morris, a onetime advisor to former President Bill Clinton, said he was particularly troubled by ABC's decision not to air the spot.
"It's the ultimate act of chutzpah because ABC is the network that turned itself over completely to Obama for a daylong propaganda fest about health care reform," he said. "For them to be pious and say they will not accept advertising on health care shuts their viewers out from any possible understanding of both sides of this issue."
AUGUST 21, 2009, 6:22 P.M. ET
Explaining the Town-Hall Protests
Our 1.1 million signers include cancer survivors, seniors, and others who are very well informed.
by JOHN C. GOODMAN
‘They’re un-American,” says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “They’re spreading lies and distortions,” says senior White House adviser David Axelrod. They are “being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies,” says the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
"They," as you probably guessed, are the concerned citizens who've shown up at town-hall meetings across the country to express their displeasure over what President Barack Obama and the Democrats are about to do to our health-care system. But who are they really? What motivates them? And why are they so angry?
I believe my colleagues and I are in an excellent position to answer those questions. For the past two months the National Center for Policy Analysis (the think tank I run) and Salem Communications (which employees such talk-show hosts as Mike Gallagher, Bill Bennett and Michael Medved) have been sponsoring an online petition at www.freeourhealthcarenow.com for those who wish to express their opposition to nationalized health care. In the process we've collected more than 1.1 million signatures and we're in email communication with many on a weekly basis.
These are a very diverse group of people. Some of them are part of a 40,000-person network of former Obama supporters who are experiencing buyer's remorse. Others are part of various disease networks, including patients concerned about the future of cancer care. There are networks of senior citizens worried about cuts in Medicare and the possible closing of their private Medicare insurance plans. There are Christian conservatives worried about taxpayer-funded abortions and subsidies for euthanasia. And there are an enormous number of people who are simply concerned about their health care.
For the most part, these individuals are not funded or organized by anybody. They really are grass roots. Sure, there may be a few top-down "astroturf" groups and some special-interest groups that are secretly gleeful. But there is no way the kind of spontaneous outpouring we've witnessed could be bought or organized by anyone.
Why are they so angry? The reasons are manifold, but the single biggest reason is the arrogance of our elected officials in Washington. Think about it. For the past seven months a small group of politicians has been meeting behind-closed-doors with powerful special interests to decide whether you will be able to keep your current insurance, where you will be directed to get new insurance and at what price, what fines you and your employer will have to pay if you don't conform, and how they're going to get your doctor to change the way he or she practices medicine. In the process, they never asked you what you thought about anything. If you are not mad about this, odds are you don't understand the situation.
Remember, according to a Fox News poll conducted last month, 84% of Americans rate the quality of their insurance as "excellent" or "good." When they voted for Mr. Obama for president, they thought "universal care" meant helping some unfortunate Americans obtain insurance they cannot otherwise afford. Not once did candidate Obama say he was going to make changes that affected them and their health care. In fact, he promised the opposite.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops for its "public option." While the mainstream media generally fail to cover it, at least once a week a message on health care goes out from the president, his staff, or someone from the DNC to 13 million Americans. These messages convey talking points defending the bills in Congress, attacking points aimed at critics, and suggested "to dos" for the faithful.
To counteract that, my colleagues and I have used talk radio and the Internet to send out counter messages, using material that has previously been posted at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog—where everything is vetted in the clear light of day by policy wonks on the left and the right. We pride ourselves on being accurate and believe we're far more accurate than the White House on the issues.
Indeed, most opponents of ObamaCare are much better informed than is commonly believed. At a typical town-hall meeting, the citizens are usually better versed on the Obama plan than the member of Congress. Some have actually read the 1,000-plus page House bill (HR3200), which most representatives have definitely not read. In my opinion, Mr. Obama is losing the health-care debate because his critics are better informed than his defenders.
He is also losing because of the off-handed way he discusses matters that are deeply personal and very important. For example, it was Mr. Obama—not the critics—who first brought up the issue of giving people less health care. It was the president who mused on whether his grandmother really needed a hip replacement. It was the president who casually said that sometimes "you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer."
Before the American Medical Association, he told the doctors we have too many tests, too many exams, too much of everything. In an off-the-cuff answer to a question on ABC's nationally televised White House infomercial, the president said we're only talking about people giving up care that is "unnecessary." Yet no patient, no doctor, not even the most liberal person in the country thinks the government can pull that off without a glitch.
In truth, there is a deadly serious issue here: How do you get rid of waste and inefficiency without denying people care they really need? The answer is not easy. No other country has found it. And if the president wants to tackle this challenge he, not his opponents, bears the burden of proof to show how that will work.
Yet far from accepting this responsibility, the White House is ducking the issue. For example, they have chosen to scapegoat the insurance industry, making them out to be the villains in the health-care debate. These are the very same companies that have been negotiating with the administration behind closed doors in good faith, and are even spending millions of dollars on television ads supporting health reform.
The new tactics it is employing show the White House is completely out of touch with the American people. Those who attend town-hall meetings know they are not being organized or funded by anyone. And when the administration attacks their character and their motives and intentionally distorts the truth, it only adds to the anger people already feel.
Mr. Goodman is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
White House Sued Over Free Speech Violations in Healthcase Battle: Doctors & Patient Groupd Say White House Intended to Shut Up Opponents
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Office of the President and other White House officials are defendants in a free speech lawsuit filed by a prominent physician group, and a non-profit advocate for inner-city poor.
The White House has "unlawfully collected information on political speech," thereby illegally using the power of the White House to chill opposition to its plans for health care reform, according to the complaint filed in District Court for the District of Columbia, by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)
The lawsuit was prompted by the White House solicitation for the public to report any "fishy" comments to 'email@example.com.' Although the White House slightly revised its data collection procedure last week, the email address still exists, the illegal activity continues, and is part of an "unlawful pattern and practice to collect and maintain information" on the exercise of free speech, which "continues in violation of the Privacy Act and First Amendment even if the Defendants terminate a particular information-collection component due to negative publicity."
The lawsuit outlines how the White House has employed a form of "bait-and-switch" tactic of accusing the Plaintiffs and other opponents of spreading misinformation about the Administration's goals for health care reform, and thereby refusing to 'come clean' about its real agenda.
The lawsuit outlines that the White House knew that the data collection would chill free speech, and in fact, intended to do just that:
"43. As part of their effort to advance the White House healthcare
reform agenda, Defendants have accused opponents (including
Plaintiffs) of spreading misinformation on issues such as whether
(a) health reform would provide public funding for abortions, (b) put
"death panels" in place to deny care to the elderly or infirm,
(c) amount to a government takeover of healthcare, and (d) increase
healthcare costs..the Defendants and the administration have spread
misinformation, semantics, and disinformation on these topics.....
"45. By denying and continuing to deny that healthcare reform
legislation includes "death panels" that make individual life-or-death
decisions on the elderly or infirm, the Defendants and the current
administration have ignored and implicitly denied and continue to
ignore and implicitly to deny both that their healthcare reform agenda
involves rationing healthcare..."
"My hate mail started shortly after the White House issued the 'fishy' request," said Kathryn Serkes, Director of Policy and Public Affairs for AAPS. "We were quite visible and vocal before then, so it doesn't seem like a coincidence. Who did they share their data with? With whom might they share it?"
AAPS and CURE demand that the White House remove all information already collected, and further, be prohibited from collecting any personal data in the future.
NOTE: AAPS is a non-partisan professional association of physicians dedicated since 1943 to protection of the patient-physician relationship. CURE, founded by Star Parker, serves poor and inner-city communities through church, individual, and market-based solutions to poverty.
The case number is Civil Action No. 09-1621-EGS. The full text of the complaint is available on request .
SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)
((Something tells me the doctors in Congress know a LITTLE more about health care than the lawyers and other politicians in Congress and in the White House....))
August 28, 2009
GOP Senate doctors on health care road show
Posted: August 28th, 2009 01:58 PM ET
From CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
The only two medical doctors currently in the Senate, both Republicans, are using the August congressional recess to take their two-month old, twice weekly health care reform Webcast on the road.
(CNN) — The only two medical doctors currently in the Senate, both Republicans, are using the August congressional recess to take their two-month old, twice weekly health care reform Webcast on the road across America's heartland — an itinerary that appears designed to pressure on some of their more moderate Democratic Senate colleagues from Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
"I think we may bring a little bit more judgment and credibility to what's really going on in this debate and the problems in health care," Oklahoma Sen. and family practice physician Tom Coburn told CNN.
Along with Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, Coburn launched "The Senate Doctors Show" in early July. Twice a week, the two doctors sit down and film a roughly 20-minute segment where they answer questions about health care reform submitted by the public via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and through "man-on-the-street" video interviews of Capitol Hill visitors.
This week, the two men hit the road. Wednesday, Coburn and Barrasso were in Omaha, Nebraska where they visited an intensive care unit and taped an episode of their Webcast with a live audience. Thursday, the two men split the day between a morning town hall in Bentonville, Arkansas and two afternoon events in northern Mississippi — another taping of their production with a live audience and a hospital visit. Friday, the two doctors are set to join fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and three House Republicans from the state at a town hall meeting in Kenner, Louisiana. Vitter will also join Coburn and Barrasso on a tour of a New Orleans medical facility.
Three of the four states for this week's tour don't appear to be coincidental.
"I don't think it is a surprise that the Coburn and Barrasso health tour has made stops in Nebraska, Arkansas and now Louisiana," says CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. "This is clearly an effort to put pressure on the Democratic senators who represent these three states."
Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are considered potential swing votes on the final version of the health care bill being weighed by Congress.
Coburn pointed out that Mississippi has two Republican senators, but also conceded that politics is playing some role in the choice of the other stops in this week's road show. "We would love for the people of Arkansas and Nebraska to know the details" of the health care reform bills under consideration in Congress, Coburn said.
Pointing to his own health care reform legislation co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and rejected by Democrats during a committee markup, Coburn rejected the suggestion that Republicans have not offered their own affirmative proposals for reforming the nation's health care system.
Coburn said the reform legislation he co-sponsored would increase coverage and save government at the state and federal levels billions of dollars over the first seven years.
The family practice physician also said he does not support non-profit health insurance cooperatives which are under consideration by a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate Finance Committee as an alternative to a public health insurance option favored by many House Democrats. The co-ops are "a disguise of a government-run program," in Coburn's view because "on a regional basis, it's still going to have the same mandates being dictated to us by the federal government."
"There are other ways to solve this problem without the federal government running it," Coburn said, pointing to his own bill with Burr.
The doctors in the House – but not all are on duty when it comes to reform
by Melissa Suran
July 23, 2009
WASHINGTON – It’s still far more common to find a doctor in a hospital, but it’s not very hard to find a doctor in Congress – and not all of them are working on healthcare issues.
From Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., it seems that making the shift from the lab coat to a suit coat isn’t all that unusual.
Currently, there are 16 physicians in Congress – including two serving in the Senate. Surprisingly, only seven of them sit on committees working on health-care reform, and they don’t include big names like Paul, a libertarian who ran for president in the Republican primary campaign last year.
Since the majority of the House doctors are Republicans, it comes as no surprise that many are against the changes sought by President Barack Obama for a health system that many believe is broken.
“I left the practice of medicine, I left caring for patients for over 20 years for precisely this moment in public policy,” said Price, who is a trained orthopedic surgeon.
Price said that during his time as a practicing physician, government interference in doctor-patient relationships is what caused him the most problems. Because of public-health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, not everyone has access to the care they need, he said.
“Former patients of mine are unable to find a doctor to care for them because of intervention of the federal government,” said Price, whose colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee include Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Phil Roe, R-Tenn., both doctors.
Even so, Price is against the reform legislation, which he referred to as a “one-size-fits-all” proposal, giving the government even more power over health-care decisions.
“You’re going to give 97 percent of the American people access to health care,” Price said, addressing the Democrats in committee. “You know what they’ll have access to? They’ll have access to an opportunity to get in line.”
Not everyone agrees with Price. Rep. James McDermott, D-Wash.,, a psychiatrist who serves on the Ways and Means committee, is all for a universal health care system and he’s not alone.
Doctors aren’t the only medical caregivers on call on Capitol Hill. There are also three nurses – two registered and one licensed practical nurse – all Democrats serving in the House of Representatives. Unlike the doctors, all three nurses are members of committees involved in health care reform. ((Gee. THAT makes sense.)) Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., serves alongside Price on the Education and Labor Committee.
“We’ve been trying to do something about health care since the early 60s and it kept getting put off,” said McCarthy, who worked as a registered nurse for 32 years. “Patients are already waiting hours to see a doctor; patients are already waiting to go to an emergency room.”
McCarthy said, “its a disgrace that so many children cannot get health care. If we as a nation cannot take care of our children, who is supposed to?” ((Actually, there are about 12 million Americans who are entitled to an existing program - most of them children - like Medicaid or SCHIP - who just aren't enrolled. Whose fault is THAT?))
So far, congressional committees have approved three bills – one in the Senate and two in the House – but nothing is certain. Nevertheless, the Congress caregivers can all agree on one thing: the current health-care system is in need of some major surgery.
How the GOP wants to fix health care
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25581.html#ixzz0NJxrlyq5
By REP. TOM PRICE 7/30/09 4:35 AM EDT
Thursday marks the anniversary of the most significant piece of health care legislation in our nation’s history. It was on this day in 1965 that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law, ensuring government health care for seniors. Forty-four years later, Congress is debating another monumental act that may affect the health coverage of every American.
Contrary to what the president has tried to convince the American people of, while we oppose his misguided ideas, Republicans are committed to positive health reform. No one in Congress finds the status quo acceptable.
Having practiced medicine for more than two decades, I personally know that the status quo must not stand. Whether coming from the federal government or an insurance company, the third-party decision making that drives our health care delivery system is increasingly distancing patients from quality care.
Going down the path of more government will only compound the problem. While the stated goal remains noble, as a physician, I can attest that nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare. Because of Washington’s one-size-fits-all approach, its flawed coverage rules and broken financing mechanisms, seniors are increasingly having care rationed while federal health spending spirals out of control.
And though newly eligible Medicare patients struggle even to find a doctor who can accept them, the president appears immovable in his belief that what is needed to fix health care is more government involvement. His proposal can only be described as a government takeover of health care.
From a government-run plan that will eviscerate private insurance to prescriptive coverage regulations that require all plans to meet a government definition of care to bureaucratic boards that will decide which treatments are appropriate and who is eligible, the proposal before the House would hand over to Washington nearly every decision that should be made by patients and their physicians.
Put simply, the president’s vision of reform would do irreparable harm to an American health care system that, for all its faults, provides the world’s greatest care.
To build support, the president continues to hang his hat on a false choice, asserting that Americans are doomed to either the status quo or a government takeover of health care. Yet there is a third way that puts patients in charge. We can achieve reform that lowers costs and ensures the highest quality of care without handing over personal medical decisions to unaccountable bureaucrats.
Thursday, the Republican Study Committee has introduced legislation to positively reform our health system. The Empower Patients First Act relies on the principle that, by increasing patients’ control over their health decisions, we will make coverage more affordable, accessible and responsive, while offering more choices and the highest-quality care.
The bill seeks to achieve universal coverage by ensuring there is no financial reason to go without health insurance. By offering responsible tax incentives, patients will be empowered to purchase the care that best fits their needs.
The legislation also moves ownership of health plans from a third party to patients. When insurers are forced to be responsive to individuals, we will see the industry move to a more patient-centered model we should all seek.
Further, the bill provides for robust pooling mechanisms so patients may unite with the purchasing power of millions. This will lower costs for Americans while ensuring those with pre-existing conditions have a market in which to purchase affordable care.
As cost continues to be a sticking point in reform, the Empower Patients First Act tackles other drivers of health costs by breaking down barriers that outlaw the purchase of health care across state lines and by providing meaningful liability reform. With the creation of new health courts that take into consideration the expert opinions of medical specialty societies — those who actually know what caring for patients is like — we will see a dramatic drop in the costly practice of defensive medicine.
Finally, with federal deficits spiraling out of control, our legislation is paid for. By requiring a 1 percent annual step-down in discretionary spending, plus other efficiencies, we tell Americans that providing access to quality, affordable health care should be a priority in our budget, not just one more thing added to the deficit.
While the president will no doubt continue to put up straw men whom he can finger as promoting the status quo, it is important to appreciate that real, positive reform will take place only if we can have an honest dialogue. The Republican Study Committee has offered a solution that American patients can support. We only hope the president will drop the false choices and pick up some of our common-sense ideas.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia is chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Before being elected to Congress, he practiced orthopedic surgery for nearly 25 years.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25581.html#ixzz0NJxvrUta
((And check out this terrific video!))
Rep. Tom Price admonishes govt-takeover of healthcare
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey shares thoughts about health care
by Kevin Myrick
Throughout this month, Gingrey has participated in six town hall meetings about health care reform, eight roundtables, multiple tours and seven speeches around the district that includes Carrollton, Cartersville, Cedartown, Kennesaw, Marietta and Rome.
The Republican from Marietta heard a variety of opinions. While some of his constituents want health care reform, others fear government intrusion into the health care system.
Gingrey has made it clear that he opposes President Barack Obama’s plan.
He said the answer for the nation as a whole lies not in government control but in the people.
Gingrey advocates better health insurance coverage choices for the people. He wants greater control over prices and costs to come from the end consumer and not providers.
He believes competition in the market place will save the industry from the problems at what he said is his current view “at the 30,000 foot level of medicine instead of the one on one with a patient delivering a baby.”
That’s why he has proposed transparent medical records, protecting people’s privacy, and giving patients a way to go online and check out data on doctors where consumers live.
“These things would help a person be an intelligent shopper, just like you go to Consumer Reports to find out what the best flat screen television is or what the best digital partners, whatever they call this” he said, holding up his Blackberry pulled from his pocket. “PDA, PDQ, I don’t know. But shop in the same manner. Because what in the world is more important than picking a doctor or a hospital or the best pediatrician for your child?”
Gingrey’s congressional office in Marietta resembles a doctor’s office more than it does that of an elected official, which is fitting, since he was a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist.
A quick glance at the bookshelves in his office finds a variety of conservative literature, but it also includes Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat,” a book about the changing global economic landscape and how America’s place in the world as industrialized leader has changed completely.
To keep with his ideology the televisions around the office space are permanently kept on the Fox News Channel.
But why give up a private practice as an OB-GYN in the Atlanta area?
“I do ask myself that from time to time,” Gingrey said. “I morphed into it. It wasn’t like when I was in college or even in high school I thought I’d one day like to be a United States congressman or any other elected official, but I did recognize leadership abilities in me and others recognized it in me.”
Gingrey has been too busy to miss his practice since joining Congress in 2003. He’s been vocal about a number of issues from domestic energy production to the nation’s need to pay down the debt the federal government has accrued.
Coming down against the Democrat’s plans for health care reform in H.R. 3200, or America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, Gingrey said the bill would be disastrous for places like Rome where the health care industry has become a mainstay of the community.
“You’re going to have a real crisis in manpower at medical providers,” Gingrey said.
“You’re just not going to have the best and brightest youngsters coming out of Darlington, Berry and Shorter Colleges and all around the state of Georgia going into the medical profession.”
He also said that “people, my children and grandchildren aren’t going to go into the medical field.”
Gingrey also addressed questions about his campaign contributions amid the health care debate.
He said he doesn’t believe a single cent of money that has been donated to his campaign through political action committees has any influence over his voting record.
AFLAC has ranked amongst his top five campaign contributors, according to campaign finance reports.
In 2008 alone, individuals who work at AFLAC and political action committees representing the insurance firm gave $18,100 to his campaign. Individual contributions were reported at $8,100 and political action committees gave $10,000.
Already individuals working at AFLAC have donated $5,000 to his 2010 re-election campaign.
Individuals connected to the Harbin Clinic donated $10,875 and ranked the fifth highest donor to his re-election campaign in 2008.
“A larger contribution, maybe one that approaches what an individual can give, you always always worry about the possibility that someone gains more influence than John Q. Public,” Gingrey said.
“I always think about that when someone donates a check to me that approaches the limit. You want to make sure that there’s no quid pro quo and that there’s no promise.”
He did agree that campaign contributions are an unfortunate part of how members of Congress are sent back to the “sausage factory,” as Gingrey called Washington. Part of that sausage factory is being clogged up by the health care debate, and what he said he has come to realize is that money alone will not save America from the health care system crippled by costs.
Where Gingrey falls on health care reform can be summed up easily:
He wants the least amount of government control in the system as possible, but he wants to put into place what he sees as sensible solutions that lowers costs to providers and consumers. But the view from 30,000 feet up is much different than the view on the ground, doctor to patient.
And the possible solution to many of these problems lies in the form of a bill he’s co-sponsored with Rep. Tom Price of the Georgia 6th Congressional District.
Among the things he favors are health savings and liability reform.
“There are certain things we want to do. We want to reform the insurance industry, and we want as many people as possible to have health insurance coverage,” he said.
Congressman Mike Rogers on the House floor:
A Doctor Responds To Obama's NYT Op-Ed
Tod Rubin - Tuesday, September 01, 2009
August 17, 2009
G. Wesley Clark, MD
Mr. President, I just read your op-ed in the New York Times. You must either be incredibly ignorant (e.g., pediatricians performing tonsillectomies, surgeons being paid $50,000 for an amputation), or else you believe that Americans are incredibly stupid.
You justify a hasty and massive healthcare "reform" to save money, by spending an additional trillion dollars. You would fix a "broken" and broke Medicare system by adding another 47 million beneficiaries to government programs while arguing this will reduce overall costs.
I've itemized your inaccurate claims, with my comments in italics.
You assert that your healthcare reform will:
Force insurance companies to insure pre-existing conditions. That's like allowing bettors to wait till after the race has been run, to place their bets. That won't cut costs.
Eliminate lifetime limits on coverage. Unlimited lifetime coverages must increase premiums to pay for them and will raise total costs.
Require insurance companies to pay for routine examinations, preventive care, and screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies. Once again, how can you be insured against a sure thing? The only way my company can pay for a colonoscopy is to add enough onto the premium to pay for it, plus their overhead.
Make Medicare more efficient, so tax dollars won't enrich insurance companies. Insurance companies do not derive income from Medicare, because it is a federal program. Incidentally, its costs per patient have increased much faster than private insurance.
Cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These programs have been in effect over 40 years -- and I've seen the waste and inefficiency for most of that interval. Did you just find out about the waste and inefficiency now, and why hasn't something already been done about it?
You claim that:
"If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." But didn't you just imply this week that Medicare Advantage subsidizes insurance companies and should be eliminated to save money?
"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." But large numbers of doctors have indicated that they will quit or retire if this plan is enacted
"You will not be waiting in any lines." Maybe you won't but we will. Your plan will add up to 47 million new insureds, with no increase in the supply of primary care physicians that are already in short supply.
We physicians live with our healthcare system, all day and every day. We care about being able to heal. We hate disputing with insurance companies, and especially with government bureaucrats. Certainly changes in insurance practices are needed, and would have occurred long ago, absent a government record of 60 years of meddling with the market.
As you say, "...let's disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations" such as those in your op-ed, "that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed."
And I agree, this is about America's future: whether Americans will remain free, or be ruled by an increasingly intrusive and authoritarian statist government.
G. Wesley Clark, MD
((This is an interview on a local PA TV station with a former president of the PA Medical Society and one of the smartest people I know.....))
Dr. Victor Greco interview
AMA backs House health system reform bill that includes Medicare pay overhaul
President Obama and others call the support crucial and historic, but some medical societies are rejecting the legislation.
By David Glendinning, AMNews staff. Posted July 27, 2009
Washington -- The American Medical Association has thrown its support behind a Democratic national health system reform measure making its way toward the House floor, so far the first comprehensive bill that addresses Medicare physician pay.
On July 16, the AMA announced it would support America's Affordable Health Choices Act, comprehensive legislation officially introduced two days earlier by House Democratic leaders and closely based on a discussion draft unveiled a month before that. The three House committees with primary jurisdiction over health care moved quickly to approve the legislation for House consideration, with two of the panels passing their versions July 17.
The AMA is supporting the legislation partly on the strength of its Medicare payment reform plan, which would spend an estimated $245 billion over 10 years to align physician rates more closely with the costs of providing care. But the Association also backed the bill because it would use health insurance market reforms to cover most Americans, offer a choice of plans to consumers through a health insurance exchange, dedicate new money to boost primary care services and address physician work force problems.
"We are committed to passing health reform this year, consistent with principles of pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice and universal access for patients," said AMA President J. James Rohack, MD, in announcing the AMA endorsement. He was echoing reform principles reaffirmed by the House of Delegates at its Annual Meeting in June.
Dr. Rohack said the AMA decided to back the bill after its authors made several key changes to the original discussion draft. Although the legislation still includes a public plan option, it no longer would require Medicare-participating physicians to accept the new plan's patients. It also would not prohibit balance billing of those patients or ban doctors from privately contracting with patients.
The AMA does not consider the pending bill to be a finished product, Dr. Rohack said. By remaining at the table, the Association aims to push lawmakers to include medical liability reforms missing from the measure and reconsider the bill's ban on self-referral for new physician-owned hospitals.
((Yeah...good luck with that. I disagree that the AMA will be able to get these provisions into the finals bills, since lawyers are running the show - but I urge physicians NOT TO CANCEL THEIR MEMBERSHIP in the AMA if they're upset or disappointed with this position. This is political, not ideological, and you can CHANGE AMA policy by getting involved. The LAST thing American medicine needs is for the only significant voice for physicians to be weakened by an internal dispute....))
President Obama cheered the support and noted that physicians have joined nurses in backing reform this year.
Rep. John Dingell (D, Mich.) called the AMA endorsement a milestone in reform and said such a level of physician support indicates that the bill would not threaten the doctor-patient relationship. "The historical significance of the AMA's support should not be underestimated," he said, noting that the Association has not always been in favor of reform efforts.
Some reject public plan, mandates
Several other physician organizations lined up to support the House legislation. The American Academy of Family Physicians is backing the measure, in part, for including primary care bonuses, though it would like to see those incentives boosted. For similar reasons, the American College of Physicians said it expects to back the bill once it is out of the final committee.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee counted about another dozen physician organizations among the list of bill supporters, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Surgeons.
But not all doctors are on board with the House bill.
Led by the Medical Assn. of Georgia, seven other state and local medical societies and three surgical specialty societies signed a July 21 letter to Congress that opposes the legislation. Two former AMA presidents, Donald J. Palmisano, MD, and William G. Plested III, MD, also signed the letter. The inclusion of a government-sponsored public insurance plan option that would compete with private plans is a major reason for these physicians' opposition. They also reject individual and employer insurance mandates in the bill.
"We adamantly oppose the following as inconsistent with quality medical care and the principles of freedom and liberty that lie at the heart of our form of government and our society," the letter said. The Texas Medical Assn. drafted its own statement, saying it could not support a bill that would create another government-payer health plan when existing federal plans work so poorly.
Twelve members of the GOP Doctors Caucus wrote a July 17 letter to AMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA, urging the Association to reconsider its support of the legislation. The bill would work against physician priorities by using a government-run plan to drive out private insurance competition, force Medicare-based rates on doctors and prompt many physicians to close their doors for good, they said.
"Based on the endorsement of this legislation, we fully believe that the AMA has lost touch with the vast majority of physicians in this country," the caucus letter said.
Dr. Rohack acknowledged that some physicians and lawmakers are opposed to the AMA's show of support but said many others are enthusiastically in favor. By consistently following its four guiding reform principles, the AMA will best be able to advocate for all physicians, he said.
Cost concerns threaten time line
The plan by House Democratic leaders to move the health system reform bill to the floor before the congressional August recess sustained a major blow when new concerns arose over long-term health spending.
At a July 16 appearance before the Senate Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf said none of the bills before lawmakers includes the necessary system changes to keep long-term health spending in check. Although Obama has called for the need to "bend the cost curve" when implementing health reform, this would not occur under the current plans. "The curve is being raised," Elmendorf said.
GOP leaders pounced on the statement, calling on Democratic leaders to scrap the bill and start over with a new bipartisan proposal and a new time line. Conservative House Democrats who make up the Blue Dog Coalition were able to slow down a markup of the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee over concerns that the long-term-spending issue was not being addressed.
Obama responded to the revitalized assault on the Democratic bill, saying in a July 21 news conference that opponents are simply following the time-worn tactic of delaying reform with the intention of killing it. "But make no mistake, we are closer than ever before to the reform that the American people need, and we're going to get the job done."
The House plan
House Democratic health system reform legislation has gained the support of the AMA and several other physician organizations, though some state and specialty medical societies oppose it. The bill includes numerous major reforms that would impact physicians.
Medicare payment: Rebases the physician pay formula and gives doctors a pay increase in 2010 instead of a 21.5% cut. Establishes a new formula, starting in 2011, that allows annual spending targets to grow based on a rate of the gross domestic product plus 1%, with GDP plus 2% for evaluation and management services and preventive care. Provides a 5% Medicare bonus for physicians in primary care specialties.
Health insurance reform: Implements a national health insurance exchange that includes a government-sponsored, national public plan option financed only through premiums. Prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions; establishing annual or lifetime limits; or basing premiums on anything other than age, geography or family size. Establishes an essential benefits package that all plans must offer.
Health care affordability: Offers scaled, income-based credits for the purchase of health insurance to people earning up to 400% of the poverty level. Caps annual out-of-pocket spending to prevent bankruptcies from medical costs. Expands Medicaid to all people earning up to 133% of the poverty level.
Coverage responsibility: Requires individuals who do not qualify for a hardship exemption to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty of 2.5% of modified adjusted gross income above a specified level. Requires employers who do not qualify for a small business exemption to offer health insurance to their workers or pay a phased-in penalty of up to 8% of their payroll.
Physician work force: Boosts funding for the National Health Service Corps, primary care physician training, and scholarships and loan forgiveness for physicians who work in underserved areas. Redistributes unused graduate medical education residency slots to train more primary care doctors.
Physician-owned hospitals: Prohibits self-referral of Medicare patients by physician-owned hospitals that did not have a Medicare agreement in place by Jan. 1, 2009.
Source: House Energy and Commerce Committee energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/hr3200_summary.pdf
Specialty Physicians Unhappy with AMA Representation
Poll of physicians shows negative view of American Medical Association
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 The American Society of Medical Doctors (ASMD) today released additional results from a nationwide, nonpartisan poll* of physicians showing that 86 percent of specialty doctors feel that the American Medical Association has become too political and has lost touch with the doctors it is supposed to represent.
Chairman of the ASMD, Alfred O. Bonati, M.D., said that, "Quality representation of doctors in Washington, DC has never been more important than it is today. Sadly, an overwhelming majority of specialty physicians believe that this group has lost touch."
Dr. Bonati cited a disconnect between doctors' professional priorities and the representation offered by the AMA: "The AMA is putting the future of our profession at risk by supporting health-care reform proposals that would slowly-but-surely erode the ability of doctors to honor our pledge - the Hippocratic oath - by creating a new government-run insurance plan."
"Ask any doctor who has been denied or given minimal reimbursement by Medicare or Medicaid for a course of treatment that best fits the needs of a patient and that patient's family whether the government understands our oath," Bonati said. "We know that they do not."
The poll also revealed that a full 99 percent of specialty physicians believe that trial lawyers have a negative impact on medicine in the United States.
"The fact that medical liability reform is not part of the current health-care reform proposals in Congress is stunning to me and to most doctors," Bonati said. "This gaping hole in so-called reform efforts must be addressed."
Initial results of the poll, released last week, revealed that:
70 percent of specialty doctors oppose current Congressional and White House proposals for health-care reform;
66 percent believe that a government-run health insurance plan would restrict doctors' ability to give the best advice and offer the best care possible to their patients; and
More than 60 percent would not accept new patients with government insurance (including 27% who would not accept any patients on the new government plan).
*The poll was conducted on August 7(th), 2009, by WRS Opinion Research on behalf of the ASMD. Detailed results can be found at www.theasmd.org.
Dr. Bonati is the head of The Bonati Institute and creator of the patented Bonati Procedure for laser spinal surgery. He lives and practices medicine in Hudson, Florida.
Contact: Holly Pitt Young
SOURCE The American Society of Medical Doctors
AUGUST 31, 2009, 1:19 P.M. ET
Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care
Current congressional proposals would significantly change your relationship with your doctor.
By JEROME GROOPMAN AND PAMELA HARTZBAND
In recent town-hall meetings, President Barack Obama has called for a national debate on health-care reform based on facts. It is fact that more than 40 million Americans lack coverage and spiraling costs are a burden on individuals, families and our economy. There is broad consensus that these problems must be addressed. But the public is skeptical that their current clinical care is substandard and that no government bureaucrat will come between them and their doctor. Americans have good reason for their doubts—key assertions about gaps in care are flawed and reform proposals to oversee care could sharply shift decisions away from patients and their physicians.
Consider these myths and mantras of the current debate:
• Americans only receive 55% of recommended care. This would be a frightening statistic, if it were true. It is not. Yet it was presented as fact to the Senate Health and Finance Committees, which are writing reform bills, in March 2009 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (the federal body that sets priorities to improve the nation's health care).
The statistic comes from a flawed study published in 2003 by the Rand Corporation. That study was supposed to be based on telephone interviews with 13,000 Americans in 12 metropolitan areas followed up by a review of each person's medical records and then matched against 439 indicators of quality health practices. But two-thirds of the people contacted declined to participate, making the study biased, by Rand's own admission. To make matters worse, Rand had incomplete medical records on many of those who participated and could not accurately document the care that these patients received.
For example, Rand found that only 15% of the patients had received a flu vaccine based on available medical records. But when asked directly, 85% of the patients said that they had been vaccinated. Most importantly, there were no data that indicated whether following the best practices defined by Rand's experts made any difference in the health of the patients.
In March 2007, a team of Harvard researchers published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at nearly 10,000 patients at community health centers and assessed whether implementing similar quality measures would improve the health of patients with three costly disorders: diabetes, asthma and hypertension. It found that there was no improvement in any of these three maladies.
Dr. Rodney Hayward, a respected health-services professor at the University of Michigan, wrote about this negative result, "It sounds terrible when we hear that 50 percent of recommended care is not received, but much of the care recommended by subspecialty groups is of a modest or unproven value, and mandating adherence to these recommendations is not necessarily in the best interest of patients or society."
• The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th In the world in quality. This is another frightening statistic. It is also not accurate. Yet the head of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a powerful organization influencing both the government and private insurers in defining quality of care, has stated this as fact.
The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. No. 1 among all countries in "responsiveness." Responsiveness has two components: respect for persons (including dignity, confidentiality and autonomy of individuals and families to make decisions about their own care), and client orientation (including prompt attention, access to social support networks during care, quality of basic amenities and choice of provider). This is what Americans rightly understand as quality care and worry will be lost in the upheaval of reform. Our country's composite score fell to 37 primarily because we lack universal coverage and care is a financial burden for many citizens.
• We need to implement "best practices." Mr. Obama and his advisers believe in implementing "best practices" that physicians and hospitals should follow. A federal commission would identify these practices.
On June 24, 2009, the president appeared on "Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer. When Ms. Sawyer asked whether "best practices" would be implemented by "encouragement" or "by law," the president did not answer directly. He said that he was confident doctors "want to engage in best practices" and "patients are going to insist on it." The president also said there should be financial incentives to "allow doctors to do the right thing."
There are domains of medicine where a patient has no control and depends on the physician and the hospital to provide best practices. Strict protocols have been developed to prevent infections during procedures and to reduce the risk of surgical mishaps. There are also emergency situations like a patient arriving in the midst of a heart attack where standardized advanced treatments save many lives.
But once we leave safety measures and emergency therapies where patients have scant say, what is "the right thing"? Data from clinical studies provide averages from populations and may not apply to individual patients. Clinical studies routinely exclude patients with more than one medical condition and often the elderly or people on multiple medications. Conclusions about what works and what doesn't work change much too quickly for policy makers to dictate clinical practice.
An analysis from the Ottawa Health Research Institute published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2007 reveals how long it takes for conclusions derived from clinical studies about drugs, devices and procedures to become outdated. Within one year, 15 of 100 recommendations based on the "best evidence" had to be significantly reversed; within two years, 23 were reversed, and at 5 1/2 years, half were contradicted. Americans have witnessed these reversals firsthand as firm "expert" recommendations about the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy for postmenopausal women, low fat diets for obesity, and tight control of blood sugar were overturned.
Even when experts examine the same data, they can come to different conclusions. For example, millions of Americans have elevated cholesterol levels and no heart disease. Guidelines developed in the U.S. about whom to treat with cholesterol-lowering drugs are much more aggressive than guidelines in the European Union or the United Kingdom, even though experts here and abroad are extrapolating from the same scientific studies. An illuminating publication from researchers in Munich, Germany, published in March 2003 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that of 100 consecutive patients seen in their clinic with high cholesterol, 52% would be treated with a statin drug in the U.S. based on our guidelines while only 26% would be prescribed statins in Germany and 35% in the U.K. So, different experts define "best practice" differently. Many prominent American cardiologists and specialists in preventive medicine believe the U.S. guidelines lead to overtreatment and the Europeans are more sensible. After hearing of this controversy, some patients will still want to take the drug and some will not.
This is how doctors and patients make shared decisions—by considering expert guidelines, weighing why other experts may disagree with the guidelines, and then customizing the therapy to the individual. With respect to "best practices," prudent doctors think, not just follow, and informed patients consider and then choose, not just comply.
• No government bureaucrat will come between you and your doctor. The president has repeatedly stated this in town-hall meetings. But his proposal to provide financial incentives to "allow doctors to do the right thing" could undermine this promise. If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions.
Further, at the AMA convention in June 2009, the president proposed linking protection for physicians from malpractice lawsuits if they strictly adhered to government-sponsored treatment guidelines. We need tort reform, but this is misconceived and again clearly inserts the bureaucrat directly into clinical decision making. If doctors are legally protected when they follow government mandates, the converse is that doctors risk lawsuits if they deviate from federal guidelines—even if they believe the government mandate is not in the patient's best interest. With this kind of legislation, physicians might well pressure the patient to comply with treatments even if the therapy clashes with the individual's values and preferences.
The devil is in the regulations. Federal legislation is written with general principles and imperatives. The current House bill H.R. 3200 in title IV, part D has very broad language about identifying and implementing best practices in the delivery of health care. It rightly sets initial priorities around measures to protect patient safety. But the bill does not set limits on what "best practices" federal officials can implement. If it becomes law, bureaucrats could well write regulations mandating treatment measures that violate patient autonomy.
Private insurers are already doing this, and both physicians and patients are chafing at their arbitrary intervention. As Congress works to extend coverage and contain costs, any legislation must clearly codify the promise to preserve for Americans the principle of control over their health-care decisions.
Dr. Groopman, a staff writer for the New Yorker, and Dr. Hartzband are on the staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.
SURGICAL COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS
On August 20, the American College of Surgeons and 18 other surgical organizations sent a letter to President Obama expressing concern about his recent comments regarding the care that surgeons provide. The College had issued similar statements previously on August 12 and July 25. The joint letter allowed the surgical community to collectively respond to comments the President had made suggesting that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils was based not on medical judgment, but, rather, on a desire to make money. In addition, the letter corrected the President's more recent comments at a town hall meeting in which he implied that surgeons make decisions about amputations based on the amount of money they are paid for that procedure. President Obama incorrectly stated that surgeons make between $30,000 and $50,000 for an amputation, when Medicare actually reimburses surgeons between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. The letter goes on to express dismay at the possibility that the President's remarks could undermine the trust between surgeons and their patients--especially when patients are faced with potentially life-threatening conditions.
To view a copy of the letter, go to http://www.facs.org/hcr/potusletter.pdf.
((This was forwarded to me by a friend who is also involved with the local TEA Party/912/We the People groups of the Lehigh Valley....for more information about our local group, please click here: http://www.meetup.com/We-The-People-of-the-Lehigh-Valley-PA/ - and people say our kids don't "get it....." DBR))
TEA PARTY COMMERCIAL...A MUST SEE!
This resulted from a Mom in Alabama asking her high school son to help with a commercial for the Tea Party she was involved in organizing
A very Powerful video, turn up the sound and sit back....!!!!
GUARANTEED GOOSE BUMPS.....
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