American Medical Association Continues Obamacare Meme That Insurance Coverage Is Equivalent to Health Care Access

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 05: A doctor speaks with a patient about her high blood pressure, or hypertension, on September 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Doctors in the country are demanding higher payments from health insurance companies (Krankenkassen). Over 20 doctors' associations are expected to hold a vote this week …
Fil e Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

As the Republican-led Senate considers Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare replacement bill, left-wing lobbying groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) continue to use the “number of Americans covered by insurance” as a criterion for successful health care – even if those with an insurance card have no actual access to health care.

The AMA – one of the nation’s largest healthcare lobbying groups and supporters of Obamacare – announced its opposition to McConnell’s bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, saying it violates the charge to “do no harm.”

AMA president Dr. David O. Barbe continues the narrative created by Obamacare and single-payer supporters that when more Americans have health insurance coverage, the same Americans have health insurance access. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth – and it has not been the case with Obamacare, supporters of which like to tout the number of individuals enrolled in former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

Barbe bemoans the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) scoring of McConnell’s bill:

A lot of big numbers have been tossed around in the days since Senate leaders unveiled a “discussion draft” of legislation—dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA)—that would dramatically reshape how our country’s health system is financed.

23 million is one of those figures. That is how many more people the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would be uninsured by 2026 if the American Health Care Act were enacted, relative to current law. And today, the CBO weighed in with its projection that 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the BCRA, again relative to the law as it stands. When such a figure is in the tens of millions, it is a number too high for America’s physicians and their patients to bear.

The AMA sent a letter Monday to McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, expressing its opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The letter reads:

Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or “first, do no harm.” The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels.

[W]e have consistently urged that the Senate, in developing proposals to replace portions of the current law, pay special attention to ensure that individuals currently covered do not lose access to affordable, quality health insurance coverage.

Once again, the AMA continues the meme that insurance coverage is equivalent to health care access.

The AMA also states in its letter that it opposes defunding Planned Parenthood – America’s largest abortion provider:

We also continue to oppose Congressionally-mandated restrictions on where lower income women (and men) may receive otherwise covered health care services – in this case the prohibition on individuals using their Medicaid coverage at clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.  These provisions violate longstanding AMA policy on patients’ freedom to choose their providers and physicians’ freedom to practice in the setting of their choice.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) – a group of independent, patient-centered physicians – recently noted the readily observed fact that Obamacare’s reported success by its supporters has been “based on enrollment numbers.”

Orient wrote:

Millions more have “coverage.” Similarly, the predicted disasters from repeal have to do with loss of coverage. Tens of thousands of deaths will allegedly follow. Activists urge shipping repeal victims’ ashes to Congress—possibly illegal and certainly disrespectful of the loved one’s remains, which will end up in a trash dump.

Orient points to Democrats’ and liberal Republicans’ projections of medical bankruptcies for those with serious conditions, and she alerts to the often misattributed cause of such horrific circumstances:

These happen because patients got their treatment, and then got a bill. Often the bills are outrageous, and hospitals may be ruthless in collection efforts. That is a serious problem, but it is not caused by lack of universal coverage. And remember, bankruptcy is a way out of debt. Creditors take a haircut. In contrast to medical debts, student loans cannot be discharged by bankruptcy but follow a person for life.

Medicaid expansion may have alleviated fears of medical bankruptcy, but we don’t know that more patients got treatment. In single-payer Canada, there is no fear of a medical bill. But there might not be any treatment either.

Orient – who practices internal medicine – says those promoting universal health insurance know resources are limited and costs have to be kept down.

“They also understand that the burgeoning bureaucracy and its minions and retainers must be well paid,” she adds. “So the answer is to cut services.”

“When the money is gone, treatment is canceled,” Orient explains. “There will be fewer beds, fewer CT scanners, fewer drugs, and fewer doctors. But all will be fair. No rationing by price, just by waiting lines, political pull—and death. There will be no medical bills to pay after a service, if you get any service. Only taxes in advance, service or no service.”

Similarly, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) condemned the continued collapse of Obamacare and emphasized the difference between insurance coverage and access to actual health care.

“[A]mericans don’t want to buy what Obamacare is selling: expensive insurance that fails to meet their health care needs,” Brady said. “So far this year, nearly two million more people didn’t keep their coverage through Obamacare’s individual insurance marketplace – in large part because of doubling premiums, dwindling choices, and less access to the care that’s right for them.”

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