Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I'm Voting Straight-Ticket Democrat on Tuesday

Because I want to support President Obama's agenda and continue his string of domestic and foreign policy successes, including:
1) Getting the federal budget deficit under control

2) Getting our economy back on track

3) Guaranteeing universal health care, while making sure everyone who likes their current health plan gets to keep it

4) Reducing unemployment to near-record lows

5) Getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and getting our enemies abroad to stop hating us

6) Fighting for the rights of gays serving in the military

7) Changing the rancorous tone in Washington and moving us in a "post-partisan" direction
...Wait, what's that? ...Hang on a sec

[Quick internet search]

...Um, never mind

Friday, October 29, 2010

Two Doctors In The Washington Times

The October 27, 2010 Washington Times carried two good health care OpEds by physicians.

Dr. Daniel Johnson, Jr. wrote, "Patient beware of accountable care organization".

Johnson warns how ACO's being promoted with government help will set physician practice standards and payment incentives that will likely lead first to capitation -- then a single-payer system.

Dr. Mark Neerhof of Docs4PatientCare wrote, "Repeal president's ploy".

Neerhof shows how the insurance regulations will drive private insurers out of business and herd Americans into single-payer, government-run health care.

ObamaCare thus constitutes a two-pronged attack on the freedoms of American patients and physicians.

If Americans don't like this prospect, they should let their elected officials know next Tuesday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Humorous Look at ACOs and Medical Homes

The Disease Management Care Blog has posted two short videos on ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) and "Medical Homes":

For a more serious look at ACO's, read Dr. Beth Haynes' recent post at the Black Ribbon Project.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Schwartz: Amendment 63's Foes Only Want You for Your Body

The October 26, 2010 Huffington Post has just published Brian Schwartz's latest piece, "Amendment 63's Foes Only Want You for Your Body".

Here is the opening:
Should Colorado mandate that each car owner buy a comprehensive lifetime vehicle warranty? By the logic of a common argument against Colorado Amendment 63 and for mandatory medical insurance, the answer is "Yes." Mandatory insurance treats your body as a means to political ends, rather than respecting your rights as an individual.
He goes on to show how the mandatory insurance in ObamaCare is both a form of exploitation as well as a restriction of basic freedoms.

(Read the full text of "Amendment 63's Foes Only Want You for Your Body".)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quick Links: MLRs, Employers, Alternatives

David Hogberg at the 10/21/2010 Investors Business Daily looks at the proposed new "Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rules and asks, "Will New ObamaCare Regulation Reduce Insurance Competition?"

This 10/24/2010 AP story reports, "Employers looking at health insurance options".

As those first two stories indicate, ObamaCare rules will slowly strangle the current insurance market, thus herding Americans into the state-run "exchanges". The inevitable result will be a "single-payer" government-run system.

John Goodman at NCPA offers some positive alternatives to this bleak future in his 10/25/2010 post, "A Radically Different Approach to Health Insurance"

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Latest in Denver Post and CapMag

Two of my health care pieces have just been published:

The October 23, 2010 Denver Post has published "The 'Right To Health Care Choice'is right for Colorado".

Here is the opening:
Suppose the government required everyone to purchase their meals from state-run restaurants. The government would also select the menu items. If you liked spinach but their vegetable choice was broccoli, then tough luck. Everyone would also have to purchase dessert, whether they wanted it or not. And if some customers couldn't afford the overpriced meals, you'd have to cover their tab.

Most Coloradans would be outraged at such a violation of their basic freedoms. But this is precisely what ObamaCare does with health insurance -- and which the "Right To Health Care Choice" Initiative (Amendment 63) would help prevent.
(Read the full text of "The 'Right To Health Care Choice'is right for Colorado".)

Also, Capitalism Magazine has just posted "A Medical Doctor Explains the Pros and Cons of ObamaCare: An Interview with Dr. Paul Hsieh".

(Thank you, Joshua Lipana, for that nice interview!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hsieh/Armstrong on Personhood and Health Choice

The October 22, 2010 Denver Daily News published the OpEd by Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong, "A62, A63 Reveal Ideological Rifts". In this piece, they discuss Amendment 62 (the "personhood" measure) and Amendment 63 (the Health Care Choice measure).

They discuss why a proper approach to individual rights leads them to oppose Amendment 62 and support Amendment 63. In particular, they note:
Both the left and the religious right, then, express contradictory views about liberty and individual choice. They support it in some cases, but not in principle. Why is that?

The left rejects America’s founding ideal of liberty as each person’s freedom to pursue his own life and happiness using his own property. They regard rights as entitlements to goods and services provided by others, not freedoms to think and act without coercive interference.

...The religious right claims to support individual rights, but its conception of rights is little more than sectarian dogmatism. Rights are whatever God declares them to be, on this view.

By contorting some Bible passages and ignoring others, advocates of Amendment 62 claim that newly fertilized zygotes -- even before implantation in the uterus -- must be declared persons with full legal rights. By similar methods, they ignore the Bible's overt hostility to individual rights and capitalist values.

The consistent, secular view of individual rights is opposed to both the entitlements of the left and the dogmatism of the religious right. Rights, on this third view, define the individual's proper sphere of freedom in a social context. They enable each person to act by his own judgment and for his own life and happiness.

Such rights are based on the facts of man's rational nature, not the whims of the majority or the arbitrary commands of God. They apply equally to every person, to individuals living in society, as opposed to an embryo or fetus entirely contained within a pregnant woman’s body.
(Read the full text of "A62, A63 Reveal Ideological Rifts".)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wolf: Obamacare's Unkeepable Promises

Dr. Milton Wolf has a new OpEd in the 10/22/2010 Washington Times, "Obamacare's Unkeepable Promises".

In it, he debunks all of the promised benefits, including cost savings, "you can keep your own insurance", "no rationing", an open legislative process, etc.

Read the whole thing.

I doubt the President will take Dr. Wolf up on his invitation for a chat. But it never hurts to ask!

You can read more from Dr. Milton Wolf at his blog, The Wolf Files.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Killing Marcus Welby

Scott Gottleib discusses how Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will destroy independent small private practices and lead to indirect rationing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Otis On WA Regulations

Maryallene Otis of Lynwood, WA responds to her state regulators forcing insurers to sell child-only policies.

This is her LTE in the October 19, 2010 Seattle Times:
State regulator orders Regence to reinstate child-only plans

Profit motive more dependable than government bureaucrats

State insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler has ordered Regence BlueShield to resume selling child-only insurance policies ["WA orders Regence to resurrect child-only plans,", Oct. 15].

Regence (and insurance companies across the country) recently made the sound business decision to stop selling these policies because of the new federal law forbidding them to exclude children with pre-existing conditions.

To force a company to sell policies without considering pre-existing conditions, means that what Regence would be selling would not be insurance. Insurance takes risk into account. Kreidler is forcing Regence to make a bad business decision, on which they cannot possibly make any money.

Government is strangling the business of medicine and the business of medical insurance with more and more regulations. Then, when the regulations create a disaster, bureaucrats vilify medical professionals and insurance companies for wanting to make a profit.

Capitalism, the political system that protects individual rights to property and contract, is the moral and practical way to provide goods and services. I would far rather depend on the profit motive than the whim of a bureaucrat.

-- Maryallene Otis, Lynnwood
I especially liked how she linked the specific regulatory issue to the broader theme and proper definition of capitalism.

Thank you, Maryallene, for speaking out in Washington state!

Schwartz and Novack on Amendment 63

Brian Schwartz debunks the latest anti-A63 alarmists at the 10/18/2010 Huffington Post: "Amendment 63 vs. the Unlicensed Vampire Alarmists"

Dr. Eric Novack discusses in the 10/14/2010 Boulder Daily Camera why "Amendment 63 is good for Colorado".

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Just Bad PR

The Obama administration has been spending millions of dollars on advertisements to promote the alleged benefits of ObamaCare. (Via David Catron.)

But as the 10/15/2010 Wall Street Journal notes, "Voters on ObamaCare: Informed and Opposed". Many Americans actually understand that ObamaCare will hurt them by raising their costs and limiting their freedoms -- and they don't like it.

The problem with ObamaCare is not just bad PR.

Friday, October 15, 2010

ObamaCare Unravelling

The October 8, 2010 Investors Business Daily discusses "The Unraveling Of ObamaCare".

As more companies and special interest groups get waivers from ObamaCare rules, it highlights two facts:
1) The rules are bad.
2) Those with political pull will get special treatment.
At best, this will create rule by men, rather than rule by law. At worst, this is a recipe for widespread political corruption.

Maybe the entire country should request a waiver from ObamaCare...

Legal Scholars On Latest ObamaCare Ruling

Hadley Heath has a nice round-up of various legal scholars' reactions to the latest court ruling allowing the multi-state lawsuit against ObamaCare to go forward.

(Via David Catron.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carrots and Sticks for Electronic Medical Records

The AMA has summarized the various financial carrots and sticks that the government will wield against doctors to get them to adopt electronic medical records (EMRs, also known as EHR for "electronic health records").

The laws require "meaningful use", to prevent doctors from buying the machinery but just letting it sit on the shelf. Initially, the inducements are in the form of carrots (rewards), but later they turn into sticks (penalties):

These EMRs will be used to track physician compliance with "practice guidelines".

When Big Brother watches your doctor and decides whether or not your doctor will get paid, it could lead to a chilling effect on physicians' ability to use their best independent judgment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quick Links: Costs, Rebellion, Greeks, Wolf

Dr. Beth Haynes of the Black Ribbon Project discusses, "The Real Reason Medical Costs Are Rising".

Jeffrey Anderson describes rising discontent within the medical profession against ObamaCare at, "Battling ObamaCare: The Health Care Industry Starts to Awaken".

The Greek health care system announced the following gruesome policy:
...[T]he nation's largest government health insurance provider would no longer pay for special footwear for diabetes patients. Amputation is cheaper, says the Benefits Division of the state insurance provider.
And on a personal note, last week I had the pleasure of meeting in person Dr. Milton Wolf, who coincidentally happened to be attending the same medical conference as myself. We had a nice chat about his activities and goals. All I can say is that it's too bad we can't clone 50 more of him.

(But then, Mizzou alumni might not want that many more Jayhawk fans roaming the earth...)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Catron: The Criminal Intent of ObamaCare

David Catron warns about a provision of ObamaCare that undermines the legal rights of physicians and a core principle of our justice system.

Read his piece, "The Criminal Intent of ObamaCare".

Friday, October 8, 2010

Preventing You From Spending Your Own Money

Dr. Eric Novack discusses how the "no cost sharing" provision in ObamaCare will drastically curtain your ability to spend your own money for some legal health services.

Read his 9/23/2010 piece, "ObamaCare: The Used Car Contract of Lawmaking".

(Dr. Novack is the author of the Arizona Health Care Freedom Act, which is a 2010 ballot initiative similar to Colorado's Amendment 63.)

Update: Some readers commenting on Dr. Novack's piece have asked about the "no cost sharing" rule and whether that amounts to banning spending your own money (as opposed to merely obliging insurers to provide certain services "for free".

Here's something I wrote earlier on this topic, from "ObamaCare: Tightening the Noose Around Private Health Care":
Similar restrictions against "cost-sharing" or out-of-pocket spending are already established policy for Medicare -- the federal government’s "universal heath care" program for the elderly.

Under current federal law, if a doctor accepts Medicare patients (i.e., he is a "participating physician"), he must accept the payment set by Medicare. If the doctor can't make ends meet on the low Medicare fees, then that's his problem. Medicare rates are currently so low that many physician practices would go under if they had to rely solely on Medicare -- which is why many doctors currently limit the number of Medicare patients they are willing to accept.

But suppose a patient tells his doctor, "I know that Medicare doesn't pay you enough to cover your costs of performing the surgery which you and I both agree is necessary. I'll pay you extra in addition to Medicare to get it done."

By law, the physician cannot accept this offer. If he did, he could face stiff fines (or possibly jail) for illegal "cost-sharing." As long as he is a "participating physician" in Medicare, he may not accept any out-of-pocket money from his patients for covered Medicare services.
So a combination of "no cost sharing", pending government price controls, and physician exclusion from "qualified plans" if they accept money from patients creates the problem of patients being effectively prevented from spending their own money.

It's already the case for Medicare patients. As ObamaCare is implemented, this will likely affect millions of non-Medicare patients as well.

Lawsuits Update

As many know, a federal judge in Michigan has just upheld the Obamacare insurance mandate.

At the Volokh Conspiracy law blog, Ilya Somin offers his initial critique. So does Randy Barnett.

As many observe, this issue will likely end up being decided in the US Supreme Court.

If you're interested in more information, the Health Care Lawsuits blog and their main website look like promising sources.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Schwartz Rebuts Semro on Amendment 63

The 10/6/2010 Huffington Post carried Brian Schwartz's latest piece on Amendment 63, "Colorado Amendment 63: Freedom Is Too 'Haphazard' for Bell Policy Center".

In it, he rebuts the various objections raised by Robert Semro of the Bell Policy Center in Semro's earlier Denver Post OpEd, "No on Amendment 63: It won't hold down health care costs".

One excerpt from Schwartz's piece:
Semro also does not like Amendment 63 because it would "tie the hands of policymakers who want to reduce costs by expanding health care coverage in Colorado." Yes, and this is a good thing. "Reducing costs by expanding coverage" is code for turning health insurance into a tax, or compulsory charity. Mandatory insurance doesn't mean just any kind of insurance, but policies loaded up with mandated benefits and minimum copayments and deductibles. All of these drive up premium prices and force many people to buy more insurance than they'd otherwise want. This "cost-shift" or hidden tax is larger than that from the popular scapegoats, the uninsured.

Semro continues with Orwellian Newspeak. Amendment 63 would prohibit government from forcing you to buy an insurance plan designed by politicians. It also protects your right to pay cash for medical care. But Semro claims Amendment 63 "will obstruct the ability of Coloradans to make decisions about their health care." Nonsense. Amendment 63 does just the opposite. It obstructs the ability of the Colorado politicians and bureaucrats to make decisions about your health care.
(Read the full text of "Colorado Amendment 63: Freedom Is Too 'Haphazard' for Bell Policy Center".)

Thank you, Brian!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lawsuits Update

The September 29, 2010 Christian Science Monitor discusses the status of the various anti-ObamaCare lawsuits in "Lawsuits to undo key parts of health-care law move forward, so far".

Some excerpts:
State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, was filed in federal district court in Pensacola and joined by 12 other states via their attorneys general. In May, four states via their governors and three states via their attorneys general joined Florida's suit. Also joining the suit were the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals from Florida and Washington State.

Mr. Cuccinelli's suit was filed on behalf of Virginia alone in US district court in Richmond. Cuccinelli, a Republican, has championed conservative causes since taking office in January...

Further, the states claim that Congress is commandeering traditional state powers under the 10th Amendment, such as regulating intrastate insurance programs.

To bolster their 10th Amendment claims, Virginia and five states in the Florida suit -- Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Utah, and Arizona -- created conflict between federal and state laws by passing laws prohibiting government from compelling their citizens to purchase health insurance.
More information in the full article.

The October 3, 2010 Washington Times has more information on the separate voter initiatives in CO, AZ, and OK to exempt residents from the ObamaCare mandatory insurance requirements. Read more at "Voters in 3 states to consider opting out of 'Obamacare'".

Update: USA Today has its own summary, "Lawsuits over health care law heat up".

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Milton Wolf on Election Day Tea Party

Dr. Milton Wolf promotes the Election Day Tea Party:

As the good doctor says, "The quickest way to stop the Obama big-government agenda is to pry the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi's hand."

More information at the official website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Commentary On Amendment 63

As the election draws closer, we've seen more commentary on the proposed Amendment 63 to protect health care choice in Colorado.

The September 30, 2010 Salida Mountain Mail published Linda Gorman's piece, "Amendment 63 protects right to spend money on your own medical care".

The October 3, 2010 Denver Post has a point-counterpoint segment on Amendment 63 including:
"Yes on Amendment 63: Stand up to D.C. on health care choice" by Jon Caldara and Linda Gorman.

"No on Amendment 63: It won't hold down health care costs", by Bob Semro.
The October 3, 2010 Boulder Daily Camera published Brian Schwartz's piece, "Amendment 63: Refuting the opposition".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Interview with Free Enterprise

Joshua Lipana interviewed me for the Phillipines-based Free Enterprise periodical. Thanks to Joshua for the opportunity to spread free-market health care ideas to his readers in the Phillipines!

Read the interview here. Here's the PDF version.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hsieh PJM OpEd: "2010: Dawn of the Terran Empire?"

PajamasMedia has just published my short, tongue-in-cheek piece, "2010: Dawn of the Terran Empire?"

My theme is that we must have entered a bizarre political parallel universe if Democrats are now running on how they voted against universal health care, and France is now telling us that we're being too soft on our enemies.


Why the MLR Rules Matter

The MLR (medical loss ratio) rules of ObamaCare are showing up more frequently in the news.

In the 9/29/2010 Forbes, Avik Roy explains "How ObamaCare May Disrupt Your Health Plan".

The 9/30/2010 Wall Street Journal shows how McDonalds insurance for employees may be the first casualty at, "McDonald's May Drop Health Plan".

Although many commenters call these "unintended consequences", there are undoubtedly many single-payer advocates who are cheering the demise of private health insurance -- so as to eventually force Americans into a monopoly government plan.