What’s Up Doc?

Ken Gorrell

by Ken Gorrell,
Weirs Times Contributing Writer

Bugs Bunny’s signature line, delivered nonchalantly – often at the point of Elmer Fudd’s gun – is the perfect response to Dr. Bob Kocher, one of the physician-architects of the medical abomination known as ObamaCare.
I’ll assume that Kocher is a better doctor than he is economist, though his resume is light on doctoring and heavy on government consulting. His bio at Venrock, where he is a partner, says he focuses on healthcare IT and services investments. But he was once a Special Assistant to President Obama for Healthcare and Economic Policy. Simply put, he helped shape the ironically-named “Affordable Care Act” which has failed spectacularly at providing affordable care.
The good doc has had an epiphany. He was “wrong about ObamaCare” and “how the change in the delivery of health care would, and should, happen.” He wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “I believed then that the consolidation of doctors into larger physician groups was inevitable and desirable under the ACA” but “now I think we were wrong to favor it.”
Given the well-documented examples of socialized systems failing to deliver on their promises, how could this MD have believed that forcing the consolidation of medical service providers into large health systems would lead to higher quality care at lower cost? As National Center for Policy Analysis’ John Graham pointed out, these consolidated systems are missing their promised cost and quality targets.

As too many Americans have discovered, the President’s repeated promises (“If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”) were not just false; they were lies. Nobody with any economic sense believed that expanding the power and scope of a government bureaucracy could reduce costs and make a system more consumer-focused. Yet the White House’s “Facts are Stubborn Things” blog still contains this gem from August 2009:
“For the record, the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them. There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there…rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation…If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”
What’s worse – that this lie was posted in the first place, or that it is still active even after it has been thoroughly exposed? Even Dr. Bob – who left his government gig for a partnership at a medical innovation company – has figured out that smaller medical practices are better able to meet patient needs. After helping to create so much chaos, he now understands that the only thing bigger, more bureaucratic health systems are better able to do is deal with massive regulatory schemes imposed by government. And when the focus is on bureaucratic compliance, it’s not on patients. Amazing how a stint in the private sector can help the benighted see the light.
Yet even as these creatures of government try to appease their masters, they fail. Thirteen of the original twenty-three ObamaCare exchanges have crashed. The ten co-ops still operating “reported a cumulative loss of $202.3 million” according to the Washington Free Beacon, so we can expect more failures in the future. Time for many to find another doctor again – if they can.
The WSJ reported that thanks to ObamaCare, “The entire states of Alaska and Alabama are expected to have only one insurer on the health law’s signature online marketplaces next year” and “the same is expected to be true in parts of several other states.” Soon more than 20 percent of the counties across the nation will have only a single insurance provider on their government exchanges, most with difficult-to-serve rural populations. This trend does not bode well for New Hampshire.
Why is this important? Because we have just one chance to act on Dr. Bob’s revelation. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported ObamaCare. Worse, she supports the so-called “public option” that would funnel more taxpayer dollars into a scheme setting up a government-run health insurance agency to compete with private insurance companies. If you believe that government can run a health plan better than private companies can, you haven’t been paying attention.
The public option was test marketed in Colorado nearly a decade ago. It failed. No matter how they tinkered with the numbers, government planners couldn’t make it work. John Graham points out on his indispensable Health Policy blog, “The political charm of a public option is that it can be funded by federal debt…like Medicare’s Hospital ‘trust fund’ which is on track for bankruptcy in 2028.”
More debt for your children to pay. $19,422,873,535,675 as I type this…and counting. We deserve what we tolerate.