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Two years later, ObamaCare looks like a failure

January 8, 2016
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor:

I'm a physician in Clemson, S.C. and a native of Mayville. After medical school at UB I "almost" joined Dr. Bob Storms' practice. Sometimes I wish I had. He delivered me at WMH in 1943 and a part of my heart still resides in Chautauqua County. You don't forget your roots.

Two years ago I wrote a letter to the editor critical of ObamaCare- "ObamaCare not real reform." I thought I would write a follow up letter and examine the current status of health care under ObamaCare.

I had previously stated that a bill that limits access to doctors, hospitals and clinics, costs more than our current system and would still leave 30 million Americans without health insurance was indeed a bad idea. I also said that the quality of our care would diminish and that the bill was forced upon people who were mostly happy with their care and their insurance.

And I was very unhappy that the bill was sold to us based on several lies-i.e. "You can keep your doctor if you like him/her. Period!"; "You can keep your plan and your hospital"; "Families will save $2,500 each" ; "The bill will not increase the national debt one dime"; "premiums and deductibles will go down with time"; "the overall costs would be less than our current system."

Our health care system, according to the World Health Organization, was ranked 37th in the world. (The WHO report was debunked years ago; even the authors said the data was inappropriately manipulated - an outright lie used for political advantage).

Our health care system is the best in the world, bar none. Obama said there were 50 million uninsured Americans-a lie-there were really only 15 million! Believe it or not, over 25 million Americans are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, SHIP and the like but for some reason have NOT signed up for these programs. And 11 million Americans don't want any part of insurance-they consider it a poor return on their investment.

So where are we now? All of the above falsehoods have turned out to be just that. Enrollee numbers are incredibly low. The American people still are not sold on it and it remains very unpopular. People with high deductibles (a Bronze plan for a family of four is $0,400 plus co-pays) are NOT getting care because it's too costly. Major health centers (i.e. Cleveland Clinic) will not take ObamaCare. Smaller hospitals are closing because the reimbursements from ObamaCare are below their costs, especially with Medicaid, which represents about 70 percent of ObamaCare sign-ups.

More than half of the ObamaCare co-ops are closing and rates are soaring, and will skyrocket even more after the government payments to insurance companies (to cover their ObamaCare losses) stopped after Dec. 31, 2015. Congressional Budget Office estimates confirm this.

I know my accusations may seem harsh but the facts are the facts. This bill was entirely partisan at birth and has done and will continue to do considerable damage to what I consider the most important aspect of health care-the doctor-patient relationship. When the government and its bureaucracy tell doctors what they can do, where they can do it and how they can do it, you have reached a new low in the delivery of that most precious aspect of our lives-our health!

The Hippocratic Oath that I took stated, in short: First, do no harm ( advocate and represent the patient above all else). If the government is controlling what I do for you, I can't advocate for you, the patient. And ObamaCare also brings an all controlling rationing plan ( IPAB) into the equation, and its decisions are irrevocable, even by Congress.

I might also add again that 70 percent of enrollees are Medicaid-the most scandalous of health care delivery systems ever constructed. Low quality care with very limited access. And it's unsustainable. A high percentage of doctors will not take Medicaid, severely limiting access. The reason-reimbursement by Medicaid is below costs.

Yes, I know many people have benefited from some aspects of ObamaCare and that's good. But in the overall, down-the-road big picture, for the benefit of all Americans, it needs a huge redo or even a repeal. Some elements are good ( pre-existing conditions, portability, etc) and should be implemented in a restructuring, for sure. But buying insurance across state lines ( when has competition ever hurt the consumer?) and serious tort reform ( malpractice issues) need to be implemented--two suggestions by the Republicans in 2009 which were rejected by Obama, inexplicably.

We may very well evolve into a two-tiered system ( single payer + private insurance), depending on the congressional and presidential elections. That could happen, but I hope not.

So, in the final analysis, what happened? We were told many falsehoods. We did not address what is real reform: making health care affordable so everybody can participate and be cared for by the greatest health care system in the world, by any objective metric. We were sold another government entitlement that would make several million people dependent on the government and therefore "beholding" to the government and inclined to vote for that government. The Founding Fathers would be shocked!

For the record, we are No. 1 in the world in treating: heart attacks, stroke, elevated blood pressure, cancer (and cancer research), psychiatric disease, as well as what's called "responsiveness" ( attention to privacy, respect and timely access). Our wait times for care and our outcomes are the envy of the world.

Why would we ever want to throw this away?

Dr. Terry Clark

Clemson, S.C.

(formerly of Mayville)



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