Healthcare

ObamaCare endorsements: What the bribe was

· The American Medical Association (AMA) was facing a 21
percent cut in physicians’ reimbursements under the current law. Obama promised
to kill the cut if they backed his bill. The cuts are the fruit of a law
requiring annual 5-6 percent reductions in doctor reimbursements for treating
Medicare patients. Bravely, each year Congress has rolled the cuts over,
suspending them but not repealing them. So each year, the accumulated cuts
threaten doctors. By now, they have risen to 21 percent. With this blackmail
leverage, Obama compelled the AMA to support his bill … or else!

· The AARP got a financial windfall in return for its
support of the healthcare bill. Over the past decade, the AARP has morphed from
an advocacy group to an insurance company (through its subsidiary company). It
is one of the main suppliers of Medi-gap insurance, a high-cost, privately
purchased coverage that picks up where Medicare leaves off. But President
Bush-43 passed the Medicare Advantage program, which offered a subsidized,
lower-cost alternative to Medi-gap. Under Medicare Advantage, the elderly get
all the extra coverage they need plus coordinated, well-managed care, usually
by the same physician. So more than 10 million seniors went with Medicare
Advantage, cutting into AARP Medi-gap revenues. 

Presto! Obama solved their problem. He eliminates subsidies
for Medicare Advantage. The elderly will have to pay more for coverage under
Medigap, but the AARP — which supposedly represents them — will make more
money. (If this galls you, join the American Seniors Association, the
alternative group; contact sbarton@americanseniors.org.)

· The drug industry backed ObamaCare and, in return, got a
10-year limit of $80 billion on cuts in prescription drug costs. (A drop in the
bucket of their almost $3 trillion projected cost over the next decade.) They
also got administration assurances that it will continue to bar lower-cost
Canadian drugs from coming into the U.S. All it had to do was put its
formidable advertising budget at the disposal of the administration.

· Insurance companies got access to 40 million potential new
customers. But when the Senate Finance Committee lowered the fine that would be
imposed on those who don’t buy insurance from $3,500 to $1,500, the insurance
companies jumped ship and now oppose the bill, albeit for the worst of motives.

The only industry that refused to knuckle under was the
medical device makers. They stood for principle and wouldn’t go along with
Obama’s blackmail. So the Senate Finance Committee retaliated by imposing a tax
on medical devices such as automated wheelchairs, pacemakers, arterial stents,
prosthetic limbs, artificial knees and hips and other necessary accoutrements
of healthcare.

So these endorsements are not freely given, but bought and
paid for by an administration that is intent on passing its program at any cost.

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