A question for the American Medical Association: What were you thinking?
Despite the national news media’s near-complete refusal to report it, the news was no less real. United Healthcare, a managed care health services company based in Minnesota, is underway with laying-off “thousands” of physicians in Connecticut.
The reason? The company won’t dare say this, but they had to do something to stave-off their decline in revenues, a phenomenon brought about by – you guessed it – the new federal healthcare law, AKA “Obamacare.”
President Obama once famously promised “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” but that promise is not being kept for Medicare patients in Connecticut. The physicians who are losing their employment are specifically assigned to treat Medicare beneficiaries there. And this may be only the beginning of Medicare patients “losing their doctor,” because the Obamacare law reduces funding for the elderly and disabled recipients of Medicare benefits, just as it takes on the burden of funding new websites, databases, subsidies for those who will receive health insurance “for free,” and lots and lots of new federal “administrators.”
The sad truth though is that the association that purports to represent the entire medical profession – the AMA – actually supported Obamacare for a time, before they officially and viscerally opposed it. And ironically, they opposed Medicare before they officially and viscerally supported it. Without any particular commitments to economic principles and with a seemingly naïve understanding of public policy, the AMA has welcomed the government’s encroaching control over their profession.
It started in the early 1960’s when the idea of Medicare was first proposed. The AMA warned their members that the government’s “intrusion” in to their profession could disrupt doctor-patient relationships, and lobbied Congress against passage of the Medicare legislation.
But soon after the implementation of Medicare, the AMA recognized the benefits of the government’s steady stream of revenues and began to support it. And for most of the last half-century or so the AMA has aggressively lobbied Congress against any and all proposed Medicare funding reductions.
In 2009 when Obamacare was originally proposed, the association opposed the idea. By 2010, however, amid social pressure and promises of good times for physicians from the administration, the AMA decided that they sort of agreed to the Obamacare “in principle,” and refused to oppose it. Then in 2012, after Obamacare had become law and a couple of months before the November presidential election, the AMA came out in full-force opposing Obamacare while urging its members to vote for Mitt Romney.
Too little, too late, AMA. As President Thomas Jefferson once said, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything you have,” and the results of the AMA’s foolish flirtation with the government’s redistribution of economic resources illustrates this profound truth vividly.
As if this folly isn’t sufficiently tragic, consider this: as featured on the Fox News channel, a private corporation called “Benefits Coordinators” is on the prowl for prospective staffers to educate government employees on how to utilize their health insurance benefits. Apparently the health benefits plans that the federal government offers its employees is so circuitous and confusing that the government “had to” hire a private corporation to educate the recipients on how to use the benefits.
The company advertises earnings of “$120,00 to $180,000 a year” for this kind of work. And the expansion of the administrators’ roster is happening in the same week as the reduction of the physicians’ list.
Our government is well on its way to producing less healthcare and more bureaucratic red tape, all the while the cost of healthcare rises for those who actually pay for it. Will Americans ever wake up to the most basic principles of economic and public policy issues? Or will we continue to childishly continue to believe in the magical promises of politicians?
Austin Hill is an author, consultant and host of “Austin Hill’s Big World of Small Business,” a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is the co-author of the new release “The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets,” and author of “White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History.”