Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Time to Re-Educate Us On ObamaCare

Despite their best efforts in the past to convince the American public that ObamaCare is the kind of “change” we all need, the White House is quickly realizing their talking points aren’t sticking. Public opinion polls are reporting sustained opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform plan more than five months after the president signed it into law.

But they’re not giving up–Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the administration will use “reeducation” to try and convince voters heading into the midterm elections. According to the Obama administration, the sweeping health care overhaul remains unpopular due to lingering “confusion.”

“Unfortunately, there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in [the reform law] and what isn’t,” Sebelius told ABC News Radio in an interview Monday.
With several vulnerable House Democrats touting their votes against the bill, and Republicans running on repeal, Sebelius said “misinformation given on a 24/7 basis” has led to the enduring opposition nearly six months after the lengthy debate ended in Congress.
“So, we have a lot of reeducation to do,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius also told ABC that she “strongly” disagrees with what her predecessor, former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last week, suggesting that ObamaCare’s changes to Medicare merely create the “illusion” of reform.

Meanwhile, Mary Katharine Ham of the Weekly Standard and Guy Benson of Townhall.com offer a breakdown of ObamaCare’s promises and realities–a thorough assessment that will not likely to make it into the administration’s “reeducation” curriculum. Read it here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Valued Patient,

Medicare is the program that provides health insurance for most older Americans. Whether you, a family member or a friend has Medicare coverage, what happens with Medicare affects all of us ultimately and directly. In addition, you may know someone who gets insurance through TRICARE, the program that covers members of the military and their families. There is a serious and fundamental problem with Medicare that impacts TRICARE patients as well, and I’d like to ask your help in getting it fixed. This will mean your writing your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators in Congress.

Here’s the problem. Right now, the federal government pays physicians like me for health care services provided to my Medicare patients using a complicated formula that is out of date. This formula, called the “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR), is based on U.S. economic factors that are not related to the cost of patient care. The formula was put into place many years ago to save on health care costs, but it no longer works or makes sense. It isn’t based on older people’s health care needs, or on how much it costs to keep my practice up and running. When the government uses this formula, I effectively get paid less and less every year because the formula does not keep pace with the cost of providing services. And since the payment rate for TRICARE health insurance program for military members and their families also is based on these rates, this issue affects the health care of military families as well.

For example, right now, I pay my staff 2010 wages. I pay for electricity, heating and water at 2010 rates. I buy medical supplies and equipment at 2010 prices. However, the government is paying me to care for Medicare patients at rates equivalent to those of 2001. I will not be able to keep this up for long. If changes do not occur this November, I will be forced to drop all Medicare and TRICARE insurance.

The U.S. Congress has to change federal law to fix this formula. The federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has recommended that Congress replace the old formula with a new one based on realistic and relevant information. Unfortunately, each year, rather than fixing this complicated formula, Congress has voted to postpone real reform to the system. This has happened many times over the past few months, so I knew what payment I would receive for caring for my Medicare patients for only a few weeks at a time.

In fact, I received no payments for Medicare visits for the entire month of June, 2010, until mid-July. I know of no other business that can function without getting pain for services until 1-2 months after the services are rendered.

Here’s what Congress needs to do to solve the problem:
• Permanently fix the SGR formula.
• Provide better payment in that formula for primary care physicians, who are the doctors who coordinate health care for the whole person at every age, not just for a certain body part or particular age group.

Here are a few closing thoughts for you, as my patient:
• Yearly or monthly Medicare payment cuts — nearly 30 percent next year due to this formula — create an unstable program for everybody: patients and doctors.
• Because of the financial strains that these cuts impose on many physicians’ practices, they may be forced to stop seeing Medicare patients. This will make it more difficult for new Medicare patients and even some current ones to find a primary care doctor who can provide them needed care. Elderly people should not have to worry about their health care.
• Many of America’s family physicians are small businesses. We are very committed to our patients but, like you, we need to make enough money to stay afloat.

I would deeply appreciate it if you could send a letter to your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators on this issue.

There are two easy ways you can do this:
• Go to http://capwiz.com/aafp/go/patients, enter your zip code and email a letter from you to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative.
• If you’d like, my office can fax the letter for you while you are at the office.

Thank you very much for your help in keeping me in business.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Government Attacks Parental Rights

Through activist courts and the threat of ratifying the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), big government intrudes on families more and more. Already, the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children has greatly eroded in federal courts and in such settings as public schools, local libraries, and your doctor’s office.

The traditional right of parents to make decisions for their children (absent abuse or neglect) is now "substantially diminished" at the federal level, and its demise is trickling down to the states. Only an amendment to add this liberty to the text of the U.S. Constitution can give back to our families the legal protections they deserve.

Please take action. Click here to stop big government’s takeover of the family by supporting Senate Resolution 519 (which opposes ratifying the CRC) and the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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