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January 22, 2010

Former FDA Chief: Obamacare Would Hurt Healthcare Quality


Although it appears that the current health care bill is dead, I wanted to share this article on what this version of the bill currently circulated would look like in America if it passed. By the way, if you think President Obama does not want a single payer system, you might want to think again.

On December 30th, the former head of the FDA appeared on CNBC to discuss what the health care bill would do to the American healthcare industry. He noted that one of the mechanisms the administration has taken to cut costs is to shift away from a Bush administration policy regarding Medicare costs. Under the Bush administration, additional costs not approved by Medicare were the responsibility of the consumer. Now, the additional costs not covered by the health care plan would be the responsibility of the physician. This New York Times article explains how this would work for hospitals.

So, if your physician believes that a certain procedure is in your best interest, and the federal government (like private insurance today) doesn’t agree, then the physician doesn’t get paid for that procedure. In case of it being a hospital doctor, insert the hospital where the doctor is in the above example and the same applies. The former FDA chief argued that this would reduce patient’s quality of healthcare as physicians would have to only go with treatments approved by the federal government. This would truly put the government between the patient and the doctor.

Under the old plan, patients could choose whether or not they want to do a procedure, and in the cases where the patient had supplemental insurance, they could cover the costs. Now, these options may not even be available or known to the patient, as the doctor may avoid presenting options that could lead to higher costs for the physician or the hospital. This could potentially reduce the quality of care that the patient receives and may not control all costs.

I believe that had Obamacare existed starting ten years ago, my life would be drastically different. In 2002, my grandfather was diagnosed with a very serious cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his treatment, his blood cell count fell too low to continue chemotherapy treatments. It was decided, at this point to try an experimental drug known as Procrit. The drug boosted my grandfather’s blood cell count, and several months later, he was clear of cancer. If federal healthcare had not approved of this drug in an Obamacare world, my grandfather’s doctor may not have presented (or even known) these options, because the hospital or doctor would bear the cost. My grandfather would have likely not survived the cancer.

Hospitals and clinics write policies to cover costs, just as any institution would. How would doctors at these places handle Obamacare? I believe policies will be written against using procedures that the government doesn’t approve of because it raises the liabilities of the clinics and hospitals. This would decrease patients' options and in the long-term, would pose a threat to the quality of health-care.

Choice is a center-piece of capitalism, eliminating it by these methods (or the part that forces Americans on healthcare) fosters a centralized environment.


robmx said...

Last year I was paying $1200 for a cadilac healthcare plan in the free market. I was then diagnosed with cancer. I crossed my fingers and prayed that I would make it to the SINGLE PAYER system that is called Medicare.

I made it as of June 2009 when I turned 65. NOW I can see any doctor I want. NOW I find that I have access to all the medication I need without a DEATH PANEL at my free market Healthcare company turning me down.

The US should have a single payer healthcare system. Medicare should be extended to all. It is just that simple.

Jeremy said...

Would the technology that has kept you alive existed in a single payer system? If the single payer system was so good, why not travel to Europe, Canada, or China where it has been for years to seek medical treatment? That's what I would have done if my "death panel" insurance company would have refused my treatment.

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