Section 1311(h)(1)(B) of the health law gives the secretary of Health and Human Services blanket authority to dictate how doctors treat patients. Not just patients in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but patients with private plans they pay for themselves. On Dec. 2, 2013, we learned from the Federal Register that the rules are now being written. Starting in 2015, insurance companies will be barred from doing business with doctors who fail to comply. The rules will be offered in the name of ensuring “health-care quality,” which of course could mean anything.
“The powers given to the secretary are so broad, he or she could literally dictate how all physicians nationwide practice medicine,” warns Congressman Phil Gingrey (R. Georgia), himself a physician. Gingrey is sponsoring a bill to repeal Section 1311(h)(1)(B). Otherwise, he says, the HHS secretary – a Washington bureaucrat with no medical training – could, for example, bar doctors from doing routine mammogram screenings until female patients turn 50. In short, the federal government will be calling the shots on what patients get.
We don’t yet know what those rules will be. But you can be sure that the vast cost overruns of Obamacare will mean extreme pressure to cut medical treatment, especially for people the government deems unworthy of investment. Those Obamacare navigators have to be paid, and there are thousands of new IRS agents who don’t come cheap. So grandpa and grandma will just get pain pills and be told to lie down and die. With the likes of Ezekiel Emanuel offering advice, human life is not going to be the first priority. After all, he is on record that that Hippocratic Oath really is a wasteful approach to allocating resources:
The rules have not been announced, but we have some hints from the president’s key health advisor when the Affordable Care Act was written, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Early on, he suggested that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.”
His point was that so long as doctors are in charge, cost control would not be possible. “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely lipstick cost control,” he said, “more for show and public relations than true change.” In contrast, ObamaCare empowers the HHS secretary to limit care by imposing top-down regulations directly on doctors and hospitals.
Obama’s nominee to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr. Donald Berwick, also insisted the federal government must step in between doctors and their patients to curb and redistribute the use of medical resources. Berwick said resources should be allocated based on “important subgroups.” These groups, rather than the individual patient in the doctor’s office, he said, should be the “unit of concern.”
Putting the federal government in charge of who gets lifesaving medical treatment is an open invitation to tyranny. We are in for a worse ride than anyone now understands.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky