Sunday, July 25, 2010

Obama Hates Doctors, and Medicare Patients Too

As if we need more evidence that President Obama and Congress despise doctors and the current medical care system in America.  The July issue of Anesthesiology News (subscriber log in may be required) reveals that one of the provisions of ObamaCare states that physician owned hospitals are forbidden from expanding their facilities after March 23, 2010 (yes it is a retroactive law).  No new physician owned hospitals are allowed to be built after the end of the year.  And doctors have to tell patients their financial interests in the hospital or face a fine of $1 million. Because of these new restrictive rules, 39 new hospitals that were on the drawing books have been cancelled.  Another 45 hospitals that are now under construction are not expected to pass certification with Medicare before December 31, 2010 leaving their owners and investors in a quandary.

Is there any more confirmation of antiphysician bias needed than this new law?  What other industry in America is forbidden from expanding its perfectly legal and legitimate business?  The restrictions on boutique hospitals are almost as onerous as those aimed at the cigarette industry.  Isn't it ironic the government would lump doctors into the same class of people as tobacco companies?  Never mind that thousands of jobs have been lost because of the scuttled construction projects.  No hospitals also mean thousands of nursing jobs, back office staff, janitorial services, IT services, and other positions that makes up a modern American hospital have disappeared.  There doesn't seem to be any rational reason for strangling physician owned hospitals. 

Some people say these small hospitals (in general they are all miniscule compared to the behemoths of the university and nonprofit hospitals) siphon away the best paying patients from the tertiary care facilities that have to treat the poor and indigent.  But in my view this is what's called capitalism.  I know capitalism is anathema to this socialist administration but competition will only make the big hospitals more responsive to their patients' needs. 

Is there a way around these restrictive new rules?  Yes there is and it involves denying health care choices to Medicare patients.  Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas was undergoing a $104 million construction project to expand its current 24 inpatient beds by 60 inpatient beds, adding 12 ICU beds and 14 operating rooms.  They are not scheduled to finish until August 2011.  Since it will be illegal under ObamaCare to open the new facility after December 31, the doctors at Forest Park have decided that they are going to stop accepting all Medicare and Medicaid patients, thus exempting themselves from the new law.  The biggest losers are the Medicare and Medicaid patients.  They have just been denied the choice of being seen in a state of the art medical facility by some of the most successful doctors in the Dallas area.  Instead they will have to seek their health care in the older more crowded hospitals that are deemed worthy of government approval.  The big hospitals also just got a giant influx of poorly reimbursed patients onto their daily census, thus weakening their ability to modernize their facilities and compete effectively against boutique hospitals.  Isn't it funny how capricious health care laws written by lawyers have unintentional consequences?

President Obama, we already knew you hated doctors and the medical system with your discriminatory taxes on "the rich" but you just raised a big giant middle finger at the poor and Medicare patients in this country too.

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