Consumer Power Report #224

Published June 4, 2010

Well, how quickly the mighty have fallen. The American Medical Association invested time and millions of dollars supporting President Obama’s health care agenda only to anger its members and alienate itself from state medical societies across the country. In what was supposed to save patients and doctors from the fiscal danger of the current system, the AMA is once again heading to the Hill hat in hand to beg for passage of yet another Medicare “doc fix.”

Congress is considering a measure that would provide a 2.2 percent increase in reimbursement for the remainder of 2010 and then an additional 1 percent increase for 2011. At the end of the day, the package will cost $25.2 billion and it will guarantee a funding cliff in 2012 when Medicare payments to physicians would be cut by 33 percent. This two-year “patch” will also add $23 billion to the deficit. The whole scenario poses the question: Why did the AMA throw its weight behind President Obama’s health care legislation if it didn’t address the organization’s biggest issue of the last 10 years?

Today brought disconcerting news regarding the effect of “reform” on consumer-driven health care. In an email from Roy Ramthun of HSA Consulting Services, I learned that nHealth, a Richmond, Va.-based insurance company that specializes in HSA-qualified high deductible health insurance plans, will be closing its doors due to the regulations imposed by the new health care reform law. CEO Paul Kitchen has been a great friend and resource to CHCC for years and he was gracious enough to speak at Heartland’s Health Care Roundtable in Richmond back in February where he gave a stellar presentation highlighting his success in obtaining quality affordable health care coverage for his clients. Now, he and his 50 employees will be out of the job because President Obama perpetuates the myth that HSA-qualified health care plans are “not real insurance.” This blow to consumers in Virginia will leave them with less choice in a market that is already dominated by a single health insurer. To learn more about how the so-called health reform killed this small business with 50 employees, please read the article at Richmond BizSense.

Sadly, we will see less choice in health care going forward. We have already seen numerous reports of businesses cutting health care benefits because it is more fiscally feasible to pay the penalties under the new law than to actually provide the benefits. This means more Americans getting their health insurance from the government’s insurance exchange via subsidies. No wonder 60 percent of the country would like to repeal the law. Things only get more complicated when the New York Times reported this week that data used by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which President Obama used to tout his health care reform plan, was “shaky.”

Conservatives in Congress need to continue talking about health care with their constituents. Even though media reports dispelling the myths of President Obama’s health care plan are only now coming out, we should not ignore them. These reports support everything that has been said all along: More spending by the government does not equal lower premiums or better health care outcomes. We must continue to educate the public about what this health care law really means and how it will only bring them a tidal wave of debt and frustration, not a healthier life.

– -Peter J. Fotos, The Heartland Institute



As stated in the introduction above, The United States Congress is considering a tax package that includes a Medicare reimbursement fix for physicians, known as the “doc fix.” Kaiser Health News gives a breakdown of the legislation that will provide a reimbursement rate increase of 2.2 percent for the remainder of 2010 and a 1 percent rate increase for 2011 at a cost of $25.2 billion. We should not forget that the Congressional Budget Office recently found that a 10-year “fix” of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) would cost $275.8 billion – a 33 percent increase over last year’s estimates.

SOURCE:Kaiser Health News


Considered to be anther broken promise by President Obama, American families are learning that college graduate will still be subject to coverage gap and now the Obama Administration is insisting employers comply immediately. The new health care law requires that “children” up to age 26 must be able to remain on their parents’ health plan, but the requirement for employers does not take effect until January. Caterpillar recently announced that this requirement with costs them up to $20 million per year. These types of regulations are the reason so many businesses are considering dropping coverage altogether.

SOURCE: New York Times


Chalk one up for transparency! Even though they were not legally required to provide the information until 2013, Medtronic disclosed the amount of royalties and consulting fees paid to doctors in the first quarter of 2010. Lack of transparency on all levels of health care has been a massive barrier. Now, only if doctors and hospitals would do the same for their prices on a more widespread scale


SOURCE:Wall Street Journal


What is striking about this article is that Canada’s health care system is falling victim to the exact same problems the U.S. has with its entitlement programs – an aging population and skyrocketing budget deficits. The difference is that Canada is trying to reining its spending whereas the U.S. continues to borrow money for more government-run programs.

SOURCE:Yahoo News