|Commentary by Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D.
In the 2008 campaign, we heard healthcare in this country is “broken” and must be “reformed.” We heard “healthcare reform” would be the signature piece of an Obama Presidency. We were promised no new taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 per year. We heard promises of transparency in government. We heard promises of a White House that would listen to all. Now that President Obama and a Democratic majority are in office, what have we gotten?
The healthcare proposals have become a massive power grab to control your money, your health options, your businesses, your liberty, and ultimately your life. It is not about insuring the poor. We already have Medicaid to cover the poor.
What the Democratic majority is doing to healthcare in this country is a crime. Punishment won’t fall on Congress and the President, who are excluded from the healthcare proposals. Punishment falls on the American people, especially the elderly.
Word of a new “stealth” strategy to ram healthcare “reform” through the Senate raises even more cause for alarm and adds to the crime of this massive power grab. The plan appears to be for Senator Majority Leader Reid to merge the two Senate
bills that have passed out of committee, and attach them as an amendment to a House TARP bill, already passed by the House but curiously gathering dust in the Senate. Once the Senate votes on this “TARP” bill with the healthcare amendment tucked neatly inside, the healthcare punishment is a “done deal” without further debate. Such an abuse of power and due process would be an unforgivable crime against the American people, perpetrated by the very people elected to represent us.
Instead of “health insurance for all,” the House and Senate healthcare bills have become punishment for all. Here is the list of Americans who face the healthcare “reform” punishment:
- The sick: Those who have medical expenses each year will no longer be able to deduct those expenses on taxes until the expenses reach 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The current deduction is set at expenses above 7.5% of AGI, so the Senate plan now ADDS a 2.5% tax on those who are already paying out of pocket for medical expenses.
- The elderly: Medicare cuts of $404 billion is the latest figure released by the Senate; cuts that suggest penalizing the elderly by delaying, rationing, or denying treatment.
- Young people: Young healthy people who do not buy government mandated insurance will be punished in the form of a excise tax – reported amounts have been from $1900 to $3800 per person. The IRS fine for non-payment of tax can be $25,000 and a year in jail.
- Insurance companies: Companies providing “generous health insurance plans” will be hit with a 35% tax passed on to purchasers.
- Those who buy their own health insurance: They would incur a new 40% tax.
- Low income seniors, Hispanics and Blacks: Those will lose their Medicare Advantage program under the new proposals.
- Those with Health Savings Accounts: HSAs will be extinct.
- Specialists who serve mainly elderly patients: Cardiologists and oncologists and similar specialists are slated to have their reimbursements for services slashed by 44% under the Senate bill.
- Medical device makers: They will incur new taxes (a tax that will be passed on to consumers).
For those who value their medical privacy, the Stimulus Bill requires all physicians, beginning in 2014, to send patients’ medical records directly to the federal health czar without further permission from patients. State governments face catastrophic increases in costs with Medicaid costs being shifted to them by the Federal government under the new proposals. And everyone would be affected by Speaker Pelosi's proposal to pay for healthcare reform by the creation of a national sales tax or VAT, this added to existing state and local sales taxes.
Those who would be exempt include members of Congress, the President and his family, trial lawyers, and Unions (SEIU, AFL-CIO, and others) who would retain their private care.
This reminds me of the Soviet Union when I visited there in 1974 and 1975. The Soviet ruling elite were the only ones with cars, comfortable apartments…and access to the best healthcare.
Don’t be fooled by the American Medical Associations endorsement of Obamacare. Only 17% of practicing physicians actually belong to the AMA. Last week’s “white coat” photo op at the White House was a carefully selected group of 2008 campaign donors, “Doctors for Obama.” Consider a recent poll by Investors Business Daily that revealed that 45% of doctors who responded said they would retire or resign from medicine rather than practice medicine under government control.
This crime against the American people is far worse than the Stamp Act levied by King George that set off the first American Revolution.
I am a supporter of Patients United Now. We are people just like you. We went to D.C. with questions about “reform”--- because we all favor policies which keep insurance costs down and help those patients with pre-existing conditions get coverage. Buying “care insurance” should be like buying car insurance: flexible, transparent and simple. We support health care for the poor through Medicaid.
But what we found shocked us: radical solutions, discussions behind closed doors, patients like we are not included, just big companies, lobbyists, unions and politicians.
Dr. Vliet is author of It's My Ovaries, Stupid! The Savvy Woman's Health Guide Series (Her Place Press, 2007) and other books on women and their raging hormones. She received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School and completed her specialty training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
The opinions presented here are those of the commentator and have not been substantiated by theJoplin Independent.