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Physicians Speak Out Against New Federal Health Care Law

July 30, 2012

Helena, Mont. — With the aid of Americans for Prosperity-Montana, today a group of Montana doctors and health care professionals launched the Montana Medical Free Choice Coalition (MMFCC) at the front steps of the Capital in Helena.  MMFCC opposes government-run health care, President Obama’s PPACA law, and supports market-based and patient-centered reform.

There are few better qualified people who would know how the President’s new health care law will diminish the quality of medicine than those who practice medicine,”  said Joe Balyeat, AFP-Montana State Director.  “That is precisely why we launched the Montana Medical Free Choice Coalition and the reason why many courageous physicians are speaking out against the new law.” At least a dozen prominent Montana physicians have already joined the coalition, and they spoke out at the press conference in person, or via written statements. The rally was the lead story on Montana CBS TV news statewide. (Click the image below to see news report.)
Rally was Lead Story on MT CBS TV News Statewide

Robert Flaherty, a family physician from the Bozeman area, commented about the need for patient-centered medicine rather than the top-down approach of a government-run system inherent in the new health care law:

“The fundamental unit of health care is the physician and the patient, making and discussing the diagnosis together and jointly deciding the best diagnostic and treatment paths, based on a free and open consideration of desired patient outcomes, effectiveness, benefits, risks and costs.

This does not and cannot occur from the top-down, by government directives nor insurance rules, but must occur at the grassroots, where a knowledgeable physician unites with an informed patient… Unfortunately many features of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act intentionally or unintentionally disrupt and prevent these effective physician-patient relationships.”

Annie Bukacek, an internist, spoke at the press conference criticizing the impact of government-run health care on patients.

“As a passionate patient advocate, I dread the lower quality, higher cost, lack of choice, loss of privacy and self-determination that always comes with government-run health care. Rationing of heath care is inevitable. If you look into the documented history of government-run health care in other countries, you can see that 100 percent of the time the sickest patients, most in need of health care, get the shaft. In those counties, you have to wait six months or more for your knee replacement, heart bypass surgery, or chemotherapy, if you can get them at all. As stated by a Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, who ruled in favor of a patient against the government: “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”

Carter Beck, a practicing neurologist from Missoula, commented on the financial impracticality of a government-run health care system, in light of the current national debt, and its ultimate impact on the quality of care:

“While PPACA promises to provide more people with affordable health insurance, this is an empty promise from a federal government already facing financial insolvency…With even more American’s receiving free or heavily subsidized health care, ever more American’s on disability, and fewer and fewer in the work force, something has to give. Unfortunately, if we follow this course, that will be the breadth, scope, quality and availability of medical care. Innovation will cease while existing treatments will be rationed, restricted, and disallowed. Unfortunately, there will be nowhere to turn when Washington says what you need is not what you want.”

Mick Lifson, an obstetrician and gynecologist with over 30 years of experience, wrote about the impact of moving away from a market-based health care system towards one which is centralized.  Citing the Economic Freedom of the World index, Lifson revealed that countries shown to be more economically free have a higher quality of life, longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than countries who have less economic freedom:

“Most closely related to my medical field is the measure of infant mortality. Countries considered most free have an infant mortality rate of 6 per 1,000 live births. Countries considered least free have an infant mortality rate of 70 per 1,000 live births. That’s almost a 1200 percent infant mortality rate increase in countries with command-and-control economies rather than free enterprise. So, if better health care is our goal, why is America taking one-sixth of our economy—the health care sector—and moving it out of the free economy and into the command-and-control government sector?”

As Lifson noted, the more our nation moves further away from a free market medical system and closer towards a centralized, government controlled system, the people will lose more economic freedom and the quality of medical care will in turn suffer.

Al Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon from Kalispell and former candidate for Lt. Governor, wrote about the impact of increasing the number of Medicaid patients on patient access to care.

Medicaid was designed to provide health care for the truly poor and sick. Medicaid access to physicians is limited. The projected doubling of Montana’s Medicaid population will significantly reduce the ability of our truly poor to see their doctors due to the increased demand for limited appointment access.”

AFP-MT Director Joe Balyeat further elaborated on the Medicaid issue, pointing out PPACA requires that states expand their Medicaid roles substantially “to the point where 1 in 4 people, 25% of all Americans will be on a broken program originally designed to help the poorest among us. Will their health care be better? Recent studies reveal this startling fact – health outcomes for Medicaid patients are not only far worse than health outcomes for privately insured patients, they’re even worse than outcomes for uninsured patients. Here’s the data:

  • Surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die than even uninsured patientsand 97% more likely to die than privately-insured patients. Patient Health Outcomes will be worse. Source: University of Virginia study
  • Individuals on Medicaid that have coronary artery bypass surgery are 50% more likely to die than patients with private coverage or Medicare. Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2005)
  • Medicaid cancer patients are 2 to 3 times more likely to pass away than other patients. Source: Journal Cancer (2005)

Please note the key fact — Medicaid patients are far more likely to die than even uninsured patients. Why are Obama, Tester, and Baucas forcing 1 out of 4 Americans into that system?  Since Montana’s average wages are near dead last in the country, far more than 1 in 4 Montanans will be forced onto this substandard, life-threatening system. This data belies the entire premise that government controlled and subsidized health care is better than free medical markets, and belies the entire premise that compulsory insurance laws mean better health care. Compulsory insurance, especially government-run insurance, does not mean better health care…. The research suggests it means far worse health care.” 

Although the US Supreme Court ruled that the new health care law is constitutional, the court also ruled that Congress may not coerce states to expand Medicaid.   Many states are choosing to not comply with expansion of the Medicaid.

AFP-MT and MMFCC will continue fighting for hard-working Montana taxpayers who deserve the best care that medicine can provide. And the best care available is provided by a free, real economy; not by a centralized command and control program like Medicaid.

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