A few weeks ago, my 73-year-old mother received a letter from her internist announcing his retirement from the medical profession. Being that the man is 78 years old, this comes as no suprise. However, he had originally planned on working a few more years until he realized that Medicare reimbursements were not enough for him to stay afloat. Now my parents are worried about finding a new doctor. They think that further Medicare cuts resulting from ObamaCare will create a shortage of doctors who are willing to take Medicare patients.
How about that! My mother and father are not experts on health care or ”policy wonks,” but they are on to something that the Beltway is oblivous to. They have a better idea of what ObamaCare will do to the system than the seasoned, career politicans who passed it. My parents are like any other seniors; they realize the challenges and costs associated with the Medicare program, but they want to know where their health care will come from, how much it will cost them, and how accessible physicians and specialists will be to them.
It appears that these concerns, and those of other seniors, are well founded. According to the Associated Press, a new report from the Health and Human Services Department finds that the touted Medicare cuts (that are supposed to save ObamaCare from becoming a gr
eater financial behemoth than it is) could cause institutional providers to lose money and jeopardize health care access for seniors. In my own unsugarcoated words, hospitals would either have to turn down seniors or simply go out of business.
There is no doubt that Medicare is expensive and has an unfunded liability of trillions and trillions of dollars. But there are ways to reform Medicare without kicking seniors to the curb. The Medicare “reforms” in ObamaCare completely ignore what free-market health policy experts (including those here at NCPA) have talked about for years: health care costs can only be controlled through free-market mechanisms – that is, those ideas that don't stand a chance in an ObamaCare scheme – including allowing seniors to control more of their own health care dollars through health retirement accounts, reimbursing physicians for innovative treatment and consultation methods that are cheaper but just as effective (such as phone and e-mail consultations) and allowing the pre-Medicare generation to save for and fund some of their own retirement health care costs in universal tax-free accounts. But those ideas reek of common sense and will not likely be featured anytime soon in the left's unrealistic “pie in the sky” world of health care reform.
Thus, all I can tell my parents right now is, “Be prepared.”