On April 17, Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young admitted he doesn’t know squat about Obamacare.
Referring to a Bloomberg article on Obamacare polling, he asked his Twitter followers to enlighten him as to one woman’s claims.
And then he revealed that he has no idea whatsoever as to Obamacare’s impact on Medicare.
“Eventually” deducing that she’s “almost certainly on Medicare,” not Obamacare, he writes off her report as nonsense.
Why, it’s as if Medicare and Obamacare are two distinct and unrelated programs!
His reasoning? On the one hand, some poor schlubs lost their plans and had to sign up for lousy coverage in the exchanges. On the other, there’s Medicare, the insurance plan for the elderly and disabled. And never the twain shall meet, right?
WRONG, Mr. Young. And Ms. Stone isn’t a befuddled octogenarian who doesn’t know the difference.
Ms. Stone was treated at physicians’ offices through Russell Medical Center, which has partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System (UAB) since August, 2012. At the time, RMC agreed to a plan of “working together to solve problems in health care delivery.” In September, 2013, UAB embraced Obamacare’s ambition to reduce health care costs.
Ms. Stone has never had heart problems, but during a routine blood draw, her triglycerides tested at 600, almost 10 times her usual result. Her internist put her on multiple medications and referred her to one of RMC’s cardiologists.
She then became a cardiac patient.
With three master’s degrees and two specialty degrees, including one in psychometry, Ms. Stone was no fool. “I knew the lab was wrong.” But she couldn’t convince her doctors to retest her.
“They told me I couldn’t get another test for three months and that I’d need to take all of these medicines in the meantime. They said Obamacare was the reason.”
And they explained how Obamacare is influencing patient care: “The doctors are very dissatisfied, and many of them are not able to give their patients the attention that they feel that they need because they can’t have too many appointments, too many tests.”
The unaware and uninterested Jeffrey Young, HuffPo’s Obamacare expert, admits he’s “puzzled” by this. And this revelation is surprising since he’s written about the donut hole repair, Medicare costs, and the increasing out-of-pocket costs Americans are enduring. He even weighed in on King v. Burwell. One could fairly assume he’s researched the law in its entirety.
Did he stop reading Obamacare when it came to its reforms of Medicare? Did he get sleepy?
As a national health care reporter, Mr. Young ought to know that no other group is as affected by Obamacare as are seniors on Medicare. The law created a variety of pay-for-performance experiments in Medicare, including the following:
Section 3001: Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program
Section 3002: Improvements to Medicare’s Physician Quality and Reporting System (PQRS)
Section 3003: Expansion of Medicare’s Physician Feedback Program
Section 3007: Application of Medicare’s Value-Based Physician Payment Modifier (VBPM) to Physicians Payments
Section 3022: Medicare’s Shared Savings Program for Accountable Care Organizations
Section 3023: Bundled Payment Pilot
The goals of these experiments are to reduce costs (in large part by limiting tests and procedures) and to improve the quality of care by “rewarding value” rather than the number of services delivered.
The problem? Federal government bureaucrats, not health care professionals, are the ones defining quality treatment. And when health care providers don’t attest to their compliance with government-approved standards, they’re penalized.
This is what ophthalmologist and Obamacare rebel Kris Held means when she refers to the law’s perverse incentives that shift focus away from what’s best for the patient to what’s best in the eyes of The System’s cost-cutters.
As physician editor of The Hospitalist Danielle Scheurer cautioned last year, “there is a legitimate concern that physicians will be overwhelmingly motivated to play to the test, so that their efforts to perform exceedingly well at a few metrics will crowd out and hinder their performance on unmeasured metrics. This tendency can result in lower-value care in the sum total, even if the metrics show stellar performance.”
And lower-value care is just what Dell Stone received, thanks to bureaucratic interference with her treatment. When her triglyceride levels tested alarmingly high, her physician clicked the boxes in his electronic health record and prescribed heart medications, including a potentially dangerous statin drug. And due to the drive to keep testing expenses low, a second lipid panel had to wait.
Thankfully, when Ms. Stone returned to her cardiologist two weeks ago, her three-month wait paid off and she was granted a retest. This time her triglyceride reading was 67.
So, yes, Mr. Young, Obamacare did cause harm to this senior — and is in the process of harming countless others.
When The System begins experimenting with your grandmother’s care, Mr. Young, will you bother to research Obamacare a bit more?