Consumer Power Report #220

Published May 7, 2010

I was at a health care event in Barrington, Illinois this week when a participant made a statement that I have been thinking for weeks, but have never said out loud. He said, “I think we will hear a new revelation about this health care law every week for the rest of the year.”

No doubt. In fact, this week yielded much new information that dealt with President Obama’s health care law, the law financing, and information about the people President Obama has chosen to administer large portions of the legislation.

Americans learned this week that several corporations may decide to cut health care coverage for their employees. This is mostly due to the expensive mandates and penalties that the health care law is imposing on them, but it is also related to the mandate that keeps dependents up to 26 years old on their parents’ coverage. Reports indicate that Caterpillar expects to pay out an additional $20 million per year in health benefits because of this provision alone. If corporations follow through with cut health benefits, we will see more people end up on government subsidies further inflating the price tag of the law. This particular revelation could help to break the bank and send President Obama’s health care law into a fiscal tailspin.

The American people were also hit with news that conservatives have been screaming about for months. The Medicare doc fix was famously taken out of the Democrats’ health care bill months ago because it added another $207 billion to the cost of the President’s health care plan. Economists and fiscal conservatives assailed this move as dubious and called on the President to acknowledge the cost in his bill, but they were rebuffed. The Congressional Budget Office came out with an updated calculation of the cost of the doc fix that put the cost at $276 billion – 33 percent above the original estimate. The American Medical Association’s support of health care reform hinged, in part, on the President’s promise to permanently fix this issue, but the cost will continue to rise and the cash to fix it is nowhere to be found. The only place left to look for cash is the seniors themselves. Seniors should expect increased Part B premiums (which helps finance physician care) to help cover the cost of the doc fix.

Finally, over the course of the health care debate of the last year, we have heard countless horror stories about the great lengths the United Kingdom’s health care system goes to ration health care. Normally this wouldn’t concern us too much because we are not in Great Britain, but President Obama’s nominee to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “loves” the British health care system. In a 2008 paper, Dr. Donald Berwick said, “Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.”

This quote should give every American pause. It should also make us vigorously oppose his nomination to run an agency that is responsible for the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It is up to us as citizens to make sure Congress hears our disapproval.

I wonder what we will learn next week.

–Peter Fotos, Consumers for Health Care Choices at The Heartland Institute



The balanced budget law passed in 1997 was the birth of the sustainable growth rate formula. The idea was simple, doctors in groups hurt medicare therefore if their pay is docked the difference would be made up in the future. But in reality the “doc fix” is broken. For the third time this year, the 21 percent cut in pay to doctors has been averted. The debate continues over what to do about medicare payments to doctors. Physicians are working repeal the sustainable growth rate formula however, success is highly unlikely.

On last Friday, the CBO estimated it would cost $276 billion to freeze the current Medicare payment rates to doctors. CBO’s estimates stem from now until 2020. “Aides on both sides of the aisle attributed the cost increase to assumptions of an improved economy, which tends to add more to the cost of health services, as well as demographic changes that foresee increased numbers of retirees in 2020 over the previous year.”

The “doc fix” bill, if passed by Democrats, would forestall cuts for as long as five years. The “doc fix” comes at a cost of roughly $89billion, however, scheduled cuts will take effect June 1 if no decisions are made.

SOURCE: Kaiser Health NewsKaiser Health News;


The American Medical Association is clearly supporting the wrong team. A recent Wall Street Journal article labels the AMA as ObamaCare’s biggest cheerleader, who’s agenda is to silence physicians to serve their selfish interests.

A few months back, a Florida physician posted a sign making it clear that patients who voted for President Obama were not welcome. Following the incident the AMA issued this statement: “Physicians might reflect on how to properly balance their obligations as members of the medical profession with their rights as individual citizens who will be affected by reform. In particular, physicians may wonder whether it is appropriate to express political views to patients or their families.” The statement goes on to say that while the AMA “supports the right of physicians to free political speech and encourages them to exercise the full scope of their political rights . . .physicians should conduct political communications with sensitivity to patients’ vulnerability and desire for privacy”

The irony of the AMA’s statement is that by supporting ObamaCare and trying to muzzle physicians from their political emotions, they have forgotten its own mission statement: “To help doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues.” Doctors patient relationships require a level of honesty and trust, which means telling the truth about ObamaCare.

SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal


According to the Health and Human Services Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming have decided not administer temporary relief to people with preexisting medical conditions. These 18 states decided to leave the task of providing coverage to the HHS. “Some governors said they were unwilling to take on the task because it appears that Congress has allocated too little money.”

SOURCE: Washington Post


As if there isn’t enough problems with the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173) Congressman Waxman has injected language that would expand the powers of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Reportedly the FTC targets nutritional supplement companies and extorts money from them.

Under H.R. 4173 Congressman Waxman wants to give the FTC the power to write its own laws without Congressional approval. The FTC would be able to circuvent DSHEA (1994 law providing protections to vitamin and supplement manufacturers). Alliance for Natural Health has decided to fight back started a petition ( to protest Waxman’s deceptive actions.

SOURCE: Natural News


Obama Administration Views on Doctor Shortage
Kathleen Sebelius is quite skilled at avoiding questions. She recently spoke at a
Health Affairs Briefing using the same tired talking points, stating that if there were more preventive services, more health information technology and better coordination of chronic diseases more physicians would flock to the profession. Major concerns come as a result of a recent health industry report from The Heritage Foundation. Report says that the existing number of primary-care physicians will not be able to keep up with demands ObamaCare.

SOURCE: Heritage Foundation

Invisible Burdens
A new study says that a change is needed to how primary care physicians are paid. Primary care physicians are uncompensated for the enormous pressures they face. Nearly less than 10 percent of medical school graduates choose so-called primary care, which includes general internists and pediatricians. Comparatively modest salaries and rising patient numbers are major challenges facing new graduates.

SOURCE: New York Times