Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have refused to publish the final text of their health care reform bill online prior to voting on it. They claim the language is too technically difficult for ordinary people to understand, and that releasing the text would just lead to confusion.
Yeah, right… I suspect it has more to do with them not wanting us to see language like what appears at pages 80-81 of the bill. Where it says:
“Beginning in 2015, payment [under Medicare] would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician’s resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization.” Thus, in any year in which a particular doctor’s average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor’s payments by 5 percent.”
As the Washington Times explains in its editorial what that means in English is:
… in any year in which a particular doctor’s average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor’s payments by 5 percent.
Forget results. This provision makes no account for the results of care, its quality or even its efficiency. It just says that if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked. And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year’s end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties.
Bottom line, this is a form of rationing… While there are no formal death panels, this bill will ultimately give us the functional equivalent by arbitrarily punishing doctors who are trying to provide the best quality of care for their patients.