Monday, June 17, 2013

What the rush toward Obamacare means to Delaware patients with spinal problems

My recent post recounting the talk of Dr. Vince Schaller (Medical Director of Hockessin Walk-in in Lantana Square) about what's happening due to the failure of Insurance Commissioner Karin Weldin Stewart to rein in insurance companies in a so-called "regulated" market was met with some skepticism.

One commenter suggested that it was a "weakness" that my post depended on the recounting of a single physician speaking at a political gathering.

Well, let's add a few more Delaware physicians, in the form of a letter from EIGHT physiatrists or neurologists to their patients, warning them about what may happen soon due to the "savings" that President Obama pulled out of health care for the elderly:

Dear [patient] 
As our patient, you know how effective your spine injections have been in treating your pain.  The CMS, the agency that administers the Medicare program, is considering limiting or eliminating coverage for these injections.  They have made a list of coverage guidelines called the NCD (National Coverage Determination) list.  Spine injections are on the list and may be limited or eliminated from coverage.  This means that injections would no longer be covered by Medicare.  Furthermore, all of the other insurers are sure to follow their lead, so the injections would not be covered by any insurance carrier if the CMS follows through. 
This would be devastating since it would severely limit, or possibly eliminate, your ability to continue with your treatments.  Others with similar conditions to your would also face limited means to treat their back pain--they may be forced into surgery or have to make do with addictive pain medications, which as you know are not most patients' first choice. 
We are asking your help in trying to prevent this from happening.  Members of Congress pay attention to the opinions of their constituent--your voice matters ...

The letter is signed by
Dr. Anthony Cucuzzella
Dr. Tony Cucuzzella
Dr. Anton Delport
Dr. Elva Delport
Dr. Ann Kim
Dr. Nancy Kim
Dr. Scott Roberts
Dr. Frank Selo
Why is this such a big deal?  Simply because it is a graphic reminder that we are already starting to go through the first stages of rationing care by eliminating procedures from the "covered" list on Medicare, which then gives the impetus to all other insurance carriers to follow suit.

Because we are in a "rigged" rather than "regulated" insurance market (thank you, delacrat, for that observation), the government is now actively colluding with health insurance corporations to curtail what medical services you can and cannot access.

Read that letter again:  spine injections are a time-tested, economical, and safe way of maintaining patients with chronic pain who would otherwise be forced to (a) undergo expensive and potentially risky surgery; (b) switch over to addictive pain medications; or (c) simply suffer.

There's only one party interested in fighting this in our State:  the Libertarian Party of Delaware.

Subscribe a donation of $5/month today, and help us keep getting out the word that the State's captive newspaper won't touch.


Delaware Watch said...

When I had oral surgery, I was shocked to hear an elderly man be told that oral surgery (or was it false teeth?) wasn't covered by Medicare. I knew instantly who to blame. It's not the government who couldn't possibly have an interest in covering it as long as they have sufficient funding to do so. No, the blame belongs to small government types and their lackey politicians. And exactly how are small government Libertarians going to solve these outrages?

Steven H. Newton said...


That not just a disingenuous argument, that's an intellectually dishonest one.

I posted about how the cuts demanded in Medicare by President Obama as the price of extending coverage to more Americans has turned out to be a reduction in services. Further, those cuts when made in Medicare will be mirrored by for-profit insurers because they were included in the structuring of Obamacare in the first place.

So you can blame "small government types" for that by WHAT stretch of the imagination?

Then you demand that I provide a "small government Libertarian" solution to these outrages, since--if I can't--this somehow invalidates the harm being done to people by big government?

Sheesh. Try again when you've finished your antibiotics. Hope you feel better soon.

tom said...

Even though Dana is (as usual when commenting here) being disingenuous and deceptive, I can provide one more anecdotal data point which sheds some light on how we "small government types" would make healthcare affordable.

Recently I was prescribed a drug that is not new but has no low cost generics yet (thanks to the FDA delays and overly lengthy patents).

I pay out of pocket for nearly all my health care needs because i have a high-deductible insurance plan w/o drug co-pay, so I shop around to the greatest extent possible to get the best prices.

After calling all the local pharmacies for price quotes, I was shocked to find that while most of them charged about $220 (from $193 at Acme to $290 at Christiana Hospital's pharmacy), one pharmacy (Costco) could fill it for $25.

While I picking it up I asked the pharmacist how they could afford to charge so much less than everyone else.

She explained that they don't accept Medicare/Medicaid and don't sell extremely regulated drugs such as narcotics, so not only is their overhead much lower than other pharmacies, they can sell prescriptions at a reasonable markup over wholesale, rather than the 5-10 times wholesale that other pharmacies need to bill Medicare just to recover their expenses.

Delaware Watch said...

I'm sorry, but I don’t see how my argument was intellectually dishonest. Of course there were pressures to reduce services through Obamacare because 1) Small government types DO advocate cost curtailments (if not eliminations like many libertarians do) all the the time. So Obamacare had to keep costs low to mitigate the knee jerk big government complainers like Tom below in order to have a chance to get the thing passed--a program that will cover tens of millions more people than any free market fantasy program could. 2) Costs had to be kept down precisely because Obamacare (stupidly in my view) utilizes mechanisms in the free market that show little incentive or inclination for cost containment. The only sensible solution is single payer universal care. Now here is where you are dishonest. You act as if reduction in coverage of services only stems from the. government when you know perfectly well that long before. Obamacare was conceived, insurance companies reduced could coverage of services all the time. There are many examples. One is the reduction in coverage of mental health services. Apparently, insurance companies are allowed to make business decisions but governments are not.

tom said...

Pray tell us exactly where in Obamacare is this coverage for "tens of millions more people than any free market fantasy program could"?

Forcing people (who would otherwise chose to go w/o insurance and people who cannot afford insurance but do not qualify for Medicaid) to purchase approved insurance plans or pay a fine is a far cry from providing coverage. So is forcing marginal businesses that cannot to provide insurance benefits to downsize or cut wages in order to get below the size thresholds or pay for the now mandated "benefit".

Obamacare is a thinly disguised bailout for insurance companies that will actually end up reducing the number of people with health coverage. Budgeting for it has already caused massive cuts in Medicare/Medicaid. It will also increase unemployment,

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.