Michael F. Cannon, health policy analyst for the Cato Institute, says President Obama lied told “whoppers” when he declared in his big Sept. 9 speech to Congress that once he creates “a publicly-sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare…I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.”
Sorry, says Cannon, but goverments bureaucrats already “come between patients and the care that they need.”
Cannon quotes correspondence from a friend who describes himself as “a government bureaucrat” who reviews cases in which the government systematically inserts itself between patients on Medicare and Medicaid and the care their doctors prescribe, via audits (sometimes by independent consulting firms) of hospital admissions that bureaucrats often deem unnecessary. Here are some cases from the bureaucrat’s files, all involving chronically sick, mostly elderly people ruled undeserving of Medicare or Medicaid coverage for their hospitalization:
I happen to have six of those cases now, from three different hospitals. In all six cases the patients had significant chronic health problems and all were having acute episodes at the time of admission. Of the six, five were senior citizens, and one was having problems with a pregnancy. In each case a “panel of experts” determined that, based on the medical evidence, the hospital’s admitting doctor was unjustified.
Setting aside the medical issues, which in each case were significant, you and I both know that a large factor in the admitting doctor’s decision is the potential liability for the hospital. I am sure in each case the doctor considered just what would happen if he sent the patient home they died. Even if liability would not ultimately attach to the hospital, the cost of fighting such a lawsuit would be considerable. Of course, the so-called panel of experts does not have to worry about medical malpractice, so that issue does not figure into their consideration.
It is extremely rare for the patient to be held financially liable in such cases. So, one could argue that they got the treatment they needed and didn’t even have to pay for it. But, how long will it be before hospitals become so “gun-shy” that they refuse to admit patients for care, fearing that they will not be reimbursed by Medicare?
And of course, as Cannon points out, once Obama’s pet proposal, the Independent Medicare Advisory Commission (IMAC), becomes law, it would have even more sweeping powers to get between senior citizens and the medical care their doctors think they should have–except that this “panel of experts,” unlike that reviewed by Cannon’s friend, would be answerable to no one.