When the so-called Obamacare legislation was being hustled through Congress with no public disclosure, no hearings, no consultation, no input from Republicans, and no amendments allowed (“We have to pass the bill so you can know what’s in it!”), many of us on/in the Right said that the promises being made about the legislation simply weren’t true. Medical services would NOT be improved or made more readily available, Americans would NOT be able to keep our current preferred coverage, and healthcare costs would NOT be contained as Democrats bragged they would, and quite likely would rise even higher and faster than liberals’ obviously dishonest estimates.
Well, with Supreme Court arguments on Obamacare less than a month away, there is growing evidence that the critics were right in our assessment, and Democrats were once again lying about the effects of their prize piece of legislation.
First, from the Washington Post:
Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a reporton the new program.
The health-care law set aside $5 billion for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to provide health insurance to those who had been declined coverage by private carriers. Since its launch last summer, nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in the program.
Those who have enrolled in the program are projected to have significantly higher medical costs than the government initially expected. Each participant is expected to average $28,994 in medical costs in 2012, according to the report, more than double what government-contracted actuaries predicted in November 2010. Then, the analysts expected that the program would cost $13,026 per enrollee.
The costs also are significantly higher than those of similar high-risk pools that many states have operated for decades. States spent an average of $12,471 on enrollees in 2008, according to the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans.
Next, from Bloomberg comes word that the number of imaging scanners, MRI and CT, for cancer and trauma patients is steadily diminishing as federal regulators limit, then reduce payment for imaging services:
Two years ago, Robert Rapoport, a radiologist in Albany, New York, spent about $1 million to replace a 10-year-old open MRI machine, the only one available within a 30-minute drive.
It’s an expense his imaging centers wouldn’t be able to recoup today, he says.
Rapoport, reeling from the effects of $6 billion in federal reimbursement reductions since 2007, says he’s reached the point where he can’t buy equipment for his patients that will be more effective or safer without taking a loss. And this year, he faces a new ruling: The U.S. has set a limit on how much it will pay for more than one scan per patient in a day…
Regulators say the reductions ensure that testing is efficient and necessary. Doctors, though, are pushing a lobbying effort in Washington to peel the cuts back, saying they’ve forced centers to close, limiting how many MRI’s and CT scans are available to cancer patients and trauma victims, particularly in underserved rural areas…
From 2009 to 2010, as the cuts were rolled out, the volume of imaging services decreased by 2.5 percent, according to CMS.
Since Jan. 2007, the number of mammography centers in the U.S. has shrunk by 209 to 8,624 on Feb. 1, leaving 1,319 fewer breast cancer scanners in place, according to U.S. data. While the U.S. doesn’t track data on how many facilities have MRI’s and CT scanners, radiologists such as Rapaport say the data reflects what’s happened with all imaging centers.
What’s happening in the healthcare field is exactly the same as with student loans and college tuition – when government takes over, costs escalate and quality diminishes. Left unchecked, the end result is rationing.
Improvement in a product or service doesn’t come from a government mandated monopoly. Just the opposite. Improvements in quality and reductions in cost come from free market competition. Period.