According to the American Medical Association, one in three primary care doctors currently limit the number of new Medicare patients and more than one in eight are forced to refuse new Medicare patients altogether. Even with this information, the provisions in ObamaCare cut $575 billion from Medicare, including $233 billion from Medicare Parts A and B and $145 billion from Medicare Advantage plans. These figures come directly from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) chief actuary report on the financial effects of ObamaCare. These are facts provided by the Obama administration on the future funding of Medicare. Additionally, beginning in 2015, ObamaCare will impose caps on the spending growth of Medicare each year. With access already an issue for many seniors, these cuts and caps on future growth will lead to further reductions in access to vital medical services.
If over half a trillion dollars in cuts were not enough, ObamaCare included another provision that could result in a European style of rationing of care based on age or severity of health problems. This 15-member bureaucratic panel appointed by the president, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is intended to control future Medicare spending. If Medicare grows beyond its yearly target, then IPAB will make a recommendation of cuts. The only authority granted to Congress to prevent these recommendations from taking effect is to create our own package of cuts equally as large as IPAB’s or override the recommendations with a three-fifths super majority in the Senate. At the end of the day, cuts to Medicare will be all but guaranteed. With the previously mentioned cuts to Medicare, the only real option left is to begin rationing care to seniors by controlling the way physicians practice medicine. There is no reason to have unelected bureaucrats invading the doctor-patient relationship and manipulating medical decisions based on costs.
One ironic result of IPAB is the strong bipartisan support for its repeal. Several House Democrats were opposed to the formation of this board. Dr. Phil Roe of Tennessee, a fellow physician, introduced a bill to repeal IPAB, which has received the support of 221 members, including Barney Frank and 14 other Democratic Members of Congress.
In addition, ObamaCare does not adequately address the need to increase the number of physicians and other health care providers that will be required to care for an aging population. While there are provisions to incentivize medical students to become primary care physicians, other physician specialties are largely forgotten. Cardiothoracic surgeons, general surgeons, neurosurgeons and many others are needed to provide the specialized care our seniors deserve and have come to expect. It takes over a decade to properly train physicians in many surgical specialties and rural areas are already seeing physician shortages.
At one time, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Well, the American people have been paying attention and, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, support for ObamaCare is at an all-time low. The truth about the future of Medicare is this: ObamaCare creates access issues for those in need of quality medical care.
As the baby boomers begin to retire, we can no longer continue to delay important decisions about the future care of our nation’s seniors, but it is clear that ObamaCare is the wrong prescription.
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a physician, represents the 8th District of Indiana.