Archive for Obama

Obamacare dead for 2009?

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy, Medicolegal with tags , , on November 3, 2009 by drbobbs

Is Obamacare, for the present at least, dead on arrival?  According to ABC News, it is:

Senior Congressional Democrats told ABC News today it is highly unlikely that a health care reform bill will be completed this year, just a week after President Barack Obama declared he was “absolutely confident” he’ll be able to sign one by then.

“Getting this done by the by the end of the year is a no-go,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told ABC News. Two other key Congressional Democrats also told ABC News the same thing.

This administration seems to have been totally unprepared for the resistance to their proposed health care reforms.  The town halls of this past summer will go down in American political history as the model of how not to sell an idea to the American people.  And the series of health care reform bills, culminating most recently in a 1,990 page behemoth that “runs more pages than War and Peace [and] has nearly five times as many words as the Torah,” are bloated and bureaucratic.  The $1.2 trillion price tag does little to inspire confidence that health care costs will in any way be lowered by it.

Of course, we don’t really seem to inclined to lower health care costs in the United States anyway.  Are fast food restaurants going out of business due to a lack of customers?  Is there a public outcry for loser pays medical malpractice reform?  Is there bipartisan support to allow individuals and groups to purchase health insurance across states lines to create a truly national health insurance market with competition and lower prices?  Are there any substantive steps to increase the number of primary care physicians in the country?

So far, the answer across the board appears to be “No.”


Obama health care plan on the ropes

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , , , , on September 15, 2009 by drbobbs

From The Hill: Senate Democrats are going to have to move forward on healthcare without a single Republican supporter after Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she could not back the Finance Committee’s bill.

From the Associated Press: Health bill harder after Obama speech, says Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York.

President Obama doesn’t get it

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , on September 10, 2009 by drbobbs

“Now is the time to act,” President Obama said in regard to health care reform. “We have talked this issue to death. … The time for talk is winding down. The time for bickering is past.”

Mr. President, a majority of Americans do not agree with your proposed health care reforms and you heard the voice of that majority during the town hall meetings held this past summer.  The American people are not required to shut up and go along with your proposals if they think they are not good for the country.  As your predecessor learned, sometimes a President can feel very strongly about this or that health care reform or initiative and still be told “No!” by the American public and their representatives.

Administration throwing in the towel?

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , on August 16, 2009 by drbobbs

towelAccording to the Associated Press, the White House appears “ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.”  Everybody and his brother, including yours truly, has pointed out that the President’s healthcare reform plans were never economically feasible.  And it didn’t help that the summer has seen some of the worst political salesmanship in American history.  Running for office and being in office are two very different things.

President attacks health insurance carriers

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by drbobbs

After allowing these town hall meetings to become daily opportunities for healthcare reform opponents to scream at his fellow Democrats, the President finally went on the offensive:

“No one is holding the insurance companies accountable for these practices. But we will. We’re going to ban arbitrary caps on benefits. And we’ll place limits on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses,” [President Obama] said.

The practice of canceling or denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions will also come to an end, he said.

“No one in America should go broke because they get sick.”

I don’t find myself defending the insurance companies too often, but the President’s statements do invite some questions.  So we are going to ban “arbitrary” (whatever that means) caps on benefits?  Unless we also have tort reform with respect to medical malpractice, won’t this incentivize physicians to order all sorts of tests to cover themselves from liability?  If caps on benefits have been banned, why wouldn’t a rational physician do so?

And we’re going limit out-of-pocket expenses, too?  Great.  That dovetails nicely with the caps on benefits ban.  As a patient, don’t you want to get checked out as thoroughly as possible?  Especially if said checking out is on somebody else’s dime?

And denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions will come to an end?  One would have to be hard-hearted indeed not to sympathize with the poor soul who has multiple medical problems and cannot get health insurance as a result.  But how will a healthcare system work where the patient pays little or nothing, benefits are without limit, and patients with multiple medical problems who will inevitably draw more money from the system than they will ever contribute are guaranteed coverage?  The short answer is, it won’t work.  There will, of course, be rationing.  There already is rationing in healthcare just as there is rationing of any commodity.  The only question is, what or who will do the rationing?  I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the President or any of his political associates to give a straight answer to that question.

The President picked an easy target with the health insurance carriers.  Still, America’s love-hate relationship with private health insurance seems to tilt more toward the former when government intervention into healthcare is the alternative.  Mr. Obama and company have certainly seemed to have lost a lot of the political momentum they had just a few short months ago.

Talk to your plants

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 13, 2009 by drbobbs

First it was irate people shouting down the speakers at these town hall meetings.  Now there are allegations that some of the people at these meetings are Democrat plants.

An 11 year old girl allegedly chosen at random told President Obama at one such meeting that there were people “outside saying mean things about reforming health care”.  The girl’s mother was reportedly an Obama organizer.

And at a Texas town hall meeting attended by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx), a questioner who was purported to be a “pediatric primary care physician” is reportedly a graduate student in social work and an Obama delegate.

Another gross inaccuracy from President Obama

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , on August 13, 2009 by drbobbs

DrObamaHat tip to Dr. Wes for his post on a press release from the American College of Surgeons regarding the President’s latest piece of misinformation on the economics of medical practice.  The money quote (literally):

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

As with his prior remark on ENTs allegedly taking out the tonsils of patients who just have allergies so as to make more money, this President just doesn’t have his facts straight.  Overestimating how much a surgeon gets reimbursed for a procedure by a factor of 26 times is alarming in a President who wants to reform healthcare delivery.