Doc­tor’s or­ders pa­tient-cen­tered care, not Oba­macare

Amer­i­cans need

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - By Sen. John Bar­rasso

Amer­i­cans have been wait­ing for this mo­ment for two years. The Supreme Court fi­nally is hear­ing ar­gu­ments this week about the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care law. The Amer­i­can peo­ple have made up their minds; an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of peo­ple across the coun­try say that Washington has no right to force them to buy a gov­ern­ment-ap­proved prod­uct.

As a physi­cian and a U.S. se­na­tor, I have warned since the very be­gin­ning about many trou­bling as­pects of Mr. Obama’s un­prece­dented health-in­sur­ance man­date. Not only does he be­lieve he can or­der you to buy in­sur­ance, the pres­i­dent also in­cor­rectly equates health in­sur­ance cov­er­age with med­i­cal care. Af­ter caring for pa­tients for 25 years, I know that’s an­other empty Washington prom­ise. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Med­i­cal Col­leges es­ti­mates that this coun­try faces a short­age of 63,000 doc­tors by 2015. In­stead of solv­ing this care­giver cri­sis, the pres­i­dent’s health care law gives more power to Washington bu­reau­crats. The law pro­vides for thou­sands of new In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice agents to make sure peo­ple have health in­sur­ance but fails to deal in any mean­ing­ful way with the short­age of nurses and doc­tors to ac­tu­ally take care of them.

Se­niors face ad­di­tional road­blocks to care. Be­cause the law cuts $500 bil­lion from Medi­care, the pro­gram’s ac­tu­ary ex­pects up to 40 per­cent of Medi­care providers will be­come un­prof­itable. Many of them may have to drop out of the pro­gram en­tirely. Once that hap­pens, how far will se­nior cit­i­zens have to travel or how long will they have to wait to see a doc­tor?

The un­ac­count­able, un­elected bu­reau­crats who will serve on the pres­i­dent’s new In­de­pen­dent Ad­vi­sory Board, (IPAB), will also harm se­niors’ care. This board will set lim­its on how much Medi­care pays for a doc­tor’s visit, by­pass surgery or a hip re­place­ment. Just like with other cuts, once the Ipab-rec­om­mended re­im­burse­ment falls too low, some hos­pi­tals may no longer be able to af­ford to pro­vide those ser­vices.

The pres­i­dent’s plan also would put mil­lions of unin­sured peo­ple on Med­i­caid. Al­ready, nearly half of all doc­tors will not see pa­tients on Med­i­caid be­cause of very low re­im­burse­ment rates.

If this law stands, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans will be left with health in­sur­ance “cov­er­age” that makes the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion feel bet­ter — and the Amer­i­can peo­ple feel worse. Amer­i­cans of all ages will find that a weak White House-man­dated in­sur­ance card will not pro­vide the care they ex­pect. When they go to find doc­tors and nurses, they will dis­cover bu­reau­crats and po­lit­i­cal prom­ises.

Our health care sys­tem was not per­fect be­fore this law was signed, but it will be dis­as­trous if it stays in place.

The good news is that Amer­i­cans have rea­son to be op­ti­mistic.

The Supreme Court’s rul­ing could be the first ma­jor op­por­tu­nity for Washington to start over and fi­nally de­liver re­form that truly im­proves health care in our coun­try. If the in­di­vid­ual man­date is deemed un­con­sti­tu­tional, the rest of this bad law will crum­ble and it will be prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble for Mr. Obama to put the pieces to­gether again.

Repub­li­cans stand ready to lead on this im­por­tant is­sue. It’s time to go back to the draw­ing board and fo­cus on pa­tient-cen­tered re­forms. We must make it le­gal for Amer­i­cans to buy health in­sur­ance from com­pa­nies across state lines. We must re­store their free­dom to make their own health care de­ci­sions. We must end junk law­suits that drive up the cost of ev­ery­one’s care.

If the Supreme Court does not find that the law is un­con­sti­tu­tional, Repub­li­cans will con­tinue to fight to repeal the en­tire law. We are com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing health care re­form that is pa­tient-cen­tered — not gov­ern­ment­cen­tered.

The pres­i­dent’s health care law will be an an­chor around the necks of Democrats in this fight for the White House and Congress. I pre­dict that af­ter this elec­tion, Repub­li­cans will have the seats we need in Congress and a pres­i­dent in the White House to strike down this bad law. If the Supreme Court doesn’t do it, Amer­i­can vot­ers will.

Ei­ther way, we must end Mr. Obama’s dan­ger­ous ex­per­i­ment be­fore it does ad­di­tional harm to our coun­try. We need to pro­vide real re­form that gives peo­ple the care they need from the doc­tor they want at a price they can af­ford.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY LI­NAS GARSYS

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