In 2009 Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid performed the Healthcare Overhall Road Show to sell the very suspicious public, the Affordable Care Act. During this Road Show, a term known as Death Panels was uncovered by the Republicans ( I believe Sarah Palin to be exact). Most of you have heard this term, I think it was blown out of proportion mainly in an effort to make Mrs. Palin appear out of touch and uneducated. Her assessment, however was correct…in a roundabout way. There may not be a healthcare death panel which determines whether you receive the necessary treatment in order to live or die, but there will be a determining body who will financially influence the delivery of necessary healthcare, here is how.
In the near future, before the 30-45 million more patients are added to the roles of the “now covered”, there will be very little change. As the cost of treating these new patients and all others grows, then there will have to be a means of minimizing the cost of public health coverage, programs like Medicare and Medicaid. About a quarter of all spending by Medicare, more than $100 billion, takes place during a patient’s final year of life. President Obama has made multiple references to the fact that his grandmother received an expensive hip replacement while she was terminally ill with cancer, holding this example as an unaffordable Medicare spending which takes place near the end of life. He questions whether this country can afford those kinds of bills. So what will happen is: a “Medicare board” for lack of a better term, will determine if the provider (hospital, clinic, or individual doctor) will be reimbursed for the end of life service which they provided. So, if an oncologist provides ongoing cancer treatment to a patient who does not survive, and Medicare is the primary payor, then this “medicare board” will determine if the provider will be reimbursed for the treatment they already provided. So, what happens if these Doctors keep providing patients the necessary care, but the claims they send off to Medicare are repeatedly denied and not paid. You guessed it, the doctors will be forced to spend their limited time doing procedures which they know they will be reimbursed for. The hospital systems they work for, will limit these doctors (who are employees) from providing these procedures because they’re money losers.
The Sacrificial Lamb
Unfortunately the healthcare industry will take the brunt of the blame. The argument will be framed, by way of the media and the politicians, that the heartless healthcare industry is the culprit for no longer providing these end-of-life services. The unsuspecting public will believe it, and the rift between patient and provider will grow deeper.
So, medical care will be dictated by reimbursement, not need. This is the opposite of how the best healthcare system in the world originated, this is a fundamental change. We will wake up in 10 years, and the current $2.7 trillion we spent on healthcare annually, will have ballooned to $3.5-4 Trillion, all with worse care. This is just a testament that the more money you throw at something doesn’t necessarily mean you get a better result, often times it is just the opposite. This is just one illustration of how the Federal Government controls the delivery of Healthcare and increases cost, see here. As a result, I believe our freedoms are eroding because for the best medical results, care should only be between the doctor and the patient not include a healthcare death panel.