Obamacare was passed with the strong support of the Democrats and brilliant statement of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi who said, "We must pass it to find out what's in it." Of course, the bill was about 13,000 pages long, while both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible is just over 1,000 pages. In any event I'm sure no member of Congress ever read all 13,000 pages. Is this the way we should legislate laws in this country?
In many ways this bill is designed to drive private insurance companies out of business and to bring about a national healthcare system similar to that in Canada and some nations in Europe. This bill calls for an Independent Payment Advisory Board which will have the power to make almost unlimited decisions about what kind of healthcare we will receive.
There will be 15 members on this advisory board who will be appointed (not elected). They are to come up with ways to reduce the cost of Medicare. Whatever this politically appointed board comes up with must be acted on by Congress by Aug. 15 of each year. Suppose Congress does not act in a manner that achieves the level of cost containment called for, (remember, it's difficult for Congress to agree on anything) then what?
If Congress does not act in the manner dictated, the recommendations of the Independent Payment Advisory Board are no longer recommendations but they become the law. All this occurs without congressional approval or being signed into law by whoever is president at the time.
President Obama says that the IPAB can't make decisions about what medical treatments might be given to the patient. However, since the all-powerful IPAB can control payments to hospitals and doctors this, in itself, controls what medical measures may be used to treat the patient or to ultimately save one's life?
However, according to President Obama, Congress can repeal IPAB, but only during a seven-month time frame in 2117. Congress has rarely been able to do anything in seven months, and again according to Obama's terms, any repeal would call for a three-fifths majority in both the House and the Senate. And, if congress can't achieve this, according to Obama, they are banned from ever altering IPAB proposals.
If this isn't a dictatorial policy, given birth by Nancy Pelosi, and a Democratic controlled congress in 2010, I don't know what would be. Couple this with an Imperial President directing laws from the White House, and it's hard to tell if we still have some sort of democracy operating in this country or not.
Bottom line seems to be that we now have a non-elected advisory board (the IPAB) that can actually make laws. It has the power to dictate what the powers of future Congresses will be. The citizens of this nation are being told we have to accept all of these Obamacare orders, no matter what we the people want. This is because a wonderful advisory board has been established to handle these things and keep us ignorant citizens from having to worry about making our own decisions.
There's no question that something has to be done to rein in the rising cost of Medicare, but the dictates of Obama or some all-powerful advisory board is not the answer. Experts have pointed out the major problem with Medicare is the amount of fraud that is taking place and the outrageous cost of this fraud. We are also advised that computer programs can be made available to red-flag these frauds and save enormous sums of money. Let's do it.
IPAB must be stopped from making laws, which has been described as being "the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress."
This subject was brought up strongly by Mitt Romney in the first Presidential debate and caused Obama to fumble all over the place, trying to come up with logical answers to address this 800-pound gorilla of a problem.
Under Obamacare even more income will be taken away from primary-care doctors who, in many cases, are losing money by taking Medicare and Medicaid patients. It is estimated that the income of many doctors could drop by 15 percent to 20 percent. How many of us would like for the government to dictate this type of salary cut for us?
(Bob Harper is a local resident who writes a column of general interest.)