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Thought Police (Oops, Medicare) For All

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by Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD

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  • The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock.
  • But as usual, bills contain hidden gems
  • The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.”
  • Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.”
  • This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth.
  • Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions.
  • We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

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The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock. Everybody now knows the basics: the government will take care of all medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, and long-term care services with no out-of-pocket expenses. The bill prohibits parallel private insurance, and has the glaring absence of a financing mechanism.

But as usual, bills contain hidden gems. Section 104 of the bill tracks the Affordable Care Act’s “anti-discrimination” rule, making it clear that no person can be denied benefits, specifically including abortion and treatment of gender identity issues “by any participating provider.” The bill does not correspondingly reaffirm the federal laws protecting conscience and First Amendment religious freedom rights of medical personnel. Such protections relate to participation in abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide, and other ethical dilemmas.

Most sane individuals agree that we do not want our government to control any aspect of our individual lives—particularly not our religious beliefs and moral codes. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sought to clarify such conscience protections, thousands of commenters offered evidence of discrimination and coercion to violate the tenets of the Oath of Hippocrates and their own ethics. Some left their jobs or left the medical profession entirely when their conscientious objections were not honored. More

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Obamacare: Sold to the Highest Bidder

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new-logo25By  Dr. Marilyn Singleton,

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The Affordable Care Act is like the television show Storage Wars, where unclaimed items in storage lockers are auctioned off after a quick peek through the door. People bid top dollar and hope for the best. Some find a goldmine, but the unseasoned bidders usually receive a Pandora’s Box.

Let’s look at some of the winners. The Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan public interest think tank in Washington D.C., estimated that $120 million was spent lobbying for health reform. Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) alone spent $26 million lobbying for Obamacare in 2009. And PhRMA has spent well over $100 million on ad campaigns promoting healthcare reform legislation.

Upon passage of the bill, the stocks of some of the largest health insurers, including Cigna, UnitedHealth Group,WellPoint,and Aetna climbed. Major makers of electronic health records (EHR) systems lobbied hard, locking out smaller competitors. Chicago-based Allscripts Healthcare Solutions former CEO Glen Tullman, who had served as health technology adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, made more than $200,000 in contributions to the campaign, and was frequent guest at the White House during 2009. With some nudging from the Stimulus mandate for EHRs, annual sales of Allscripts more than doubled from $548 million in 2009 to $1.44 billion in 2012. Cerner, another software purveyor, spent $400,000 lobbying for EHR. During the same three-year period, sales rose 60 percent.

Of course, AARP’s CEO, Barry Rand, wrote that the ACA was “vital” for the nation’s seniors. This makes no sense when the ACA in fact cut a half a trillion dollars from the popular Medicare Advantage program. It seems the ACA’s passage was vital to AARP’s insurance Medi-gap insurance products – which people with Medicare Advantage do not need. More

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