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Obama Talks of Cutting Healthcare Costs

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President Obama has promised to trim the growth of healthcare-spending by 1.5 percent over the next decade, yet the New York Times stated on Nov. 10, 2009: “The [congressional] bills, including one passed Saturday night by the House, are unlikely to meet that goal, analysts say.” Also on Nov. 10, the Wall Street Journal declared: “No wonder many Americans are upset. They know they are being lied to about ObamaCare and they know they are going to be stuck with the bill.” The Journal’s editorial alluded to statements that John Cassidy of the New Yorker (who supports Obama’s plan) wrote on that magazine’s Web site: “The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment. Let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won’t. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration…is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind.”

Obama keeps repeating that the savings gained from reducing Medicare fraud would be used to fund healthcare reform. Yet, the office of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has provided records showing that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) failed to respond to half of the 30 warnings received from its own inspectors regarding the theft of millions of dollars by swindlers. One of most egregious cases was CMMS’ lack of response to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding complaints about a program under which Medicare patients whose home-medical equipment had been lost or damaged in hurricanes had their equipment replaced without first getting a physician’s order. A Houston-based firm, now facing indictment, billed Medicare for almost $1 million worth of power wheelchairs. Not one of the claims filed by this firm was legitimate, but Medicare paid out $5,000 per chair.
A federal report stating that more than $47 billion in “questionable Medicare claims” have been paid notes that new, aggressive action launched by the current administration has done little to combat fraud. Would this ineptitude be tolerated in the private sector?
According to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, writing in the Wall Street Journal, a poll conducted Oct. 2-3, 2009, found that only 45 percent of Americans favored the administration’s healthcare plan. “There is a clear bipartisan majority who favor a less costly bill that incrementally increases coverage, provides insurance reform involving pre-existing conditions, and experiments with tort reform and competition across state lines,” Rasmussen said.
The CEO of the National Associations of Health Underwriters, Janet Trautwein, noted on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal that, starting in 2013, the Senate legislation pushed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., would impose a fine of $200 on anyone who fails to buy health insurance. By 2018 that fine would swell to $750. As Trautwein points out, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by the time the health-insurance mandate is in full force, the average individual health-insurance plan will cost $5,000 a year. This, she believes, will persuade many to cough up the fine and buy health insurance only when they require expensive medical care.
Given that Americans already spend more for health/medical care than does any other industrial nation, it would seem that staying well is the best antidote to a system that currently rewards sick-care. No wonder so many Americans are willing to pay out of pocket to see integrative practitioners with their common-sense approach to keeping patients healthy.

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