The Ouch In Obamacare

Obamacare confused America’s best healthcare analysts


Navigating the nearly 3,000-page maze of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPAC), also known as “Obama Care,” confused even some of America’s best healthcare analysts.

Its twists, turns, promises and projections seemed to be leading us everywhere—and nowhere all at the same time.  By all accounts, these are undesirable destinations for something as important as the nation’s health.

So, we’re left scratching our heads and wondering what ever happened to Nancy Pelosi’s promise that if we just agreed to accept the provisions of Obama Care before we read it, we’d discover that we really liked it after it was the law of the land.

Of course, Ms. Pelosi was suggesting we blindly trust the same government that has mismanaged the bankrupt Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security programs with billions more taxpayer dollars.

But I, for one, subscribe to the Reagan school of thought, trust but verify.

Some Painful Facts

Now, more than a year into “reform,” businesses, patients, healthcare providers and all taxpayers are beginning to feel the sting of the hundreds of new regulations and mandates in Obama Care.  Many experts believe this is just the beginning, and that the long-term goal of Obama Care is to squeeze everyone into a Single Payer system.  This means that decisions about your healthcare and payment for it would come from Washington.

If this plan succeeds, eventually government-managed healthcare will cover most people in the nation—but it will be with little care.  Bureaucracy by its very nature does not show compassion to individuals.

In fact, continuing to implement government’s one-size-fits all “cure” for our healthcare ills is a prescription for disaster.

Here’s why:

Background Issues Underlying Reform

  • “Reform” sounds good (like hope and change) and there really are some problems with our healthcare system.  But in this case, we’re discovering that the remedy is worse than the problem.


  • Case in point, Obama Care is simply more socialized healthcare.  Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP (children’s health programs) already subscribe to a Canadian-style socialized/entitlement system of healthcare—and they are now stretched beyond their limits (and original intentions).


  • For example, South Carolina’s Medicaid program has more than 800,000 enrollees with thousands of new participants signing up monthly—this is nearly one in every four South Carolina residents.


  • Medicaid is already more than 20% of the state budget with an expected increase of 61% by 2019!


  • Nationwide, Obama Care is projected to cost one trillion dollars over the next ten years.  In perspective, it would take 190,000 + years to count to one trillion.

 The “Crisis” and the “Cure”

  • The “crisis” that preceded the Obama Care “cure” was based on a false premise.  There are not 47 million uninsured Americans (a breakdown of researched numbers suggests 8-10 million chronically uninsured).  In addition, all Americans have access to some healthcare


  • Before continuing to nationalize one-sixth of the U.S. economy, other options for mending the healthcare system should be more thoroughly investigated


  • Obama Care did not factor in Tort Reform (legal issues), yet billions in healthcare costs can be attributed to physicians practicing defensive medicine.  Their liability insurance is astronomical—and they must order certain tests or risk being sued.


  • The truth is, managed correctly, there is enough money in the system right now to handle healthcare for all.


  • Eliminating existing massive fraud, waste and abuse the federal government is already aware of (in the billions of dollars) would immediately allow for additional access.  This fraud and mismanagement is rampant in Medicare, Medicaid and Disability Insurance, among others.


  • Insurance company profits are growing while mountains of paperwork related to approval for procedures and referrals is an administrative nightmare for physicians.

In short, patients are dying while physicians and insurance companies battle over the details


  • We know competition drives quality up and costs down—but not when the cards are heavily stacked in favor of one provider.


  • Big government demonstrates an understanding of this business basic by requiring competitive bidding for government contracts.  What if one of the “competitors” was the government itself—guess who would win?


  • Imagine having no options for car insurance, cell phones or legal assistance


  • Therefore, the government prescription for reform will have the opposite effect: No private enterprise can compete with a government provided healthcare option—yet no government can provide the quality of care available through free market options.


With Obama Care, rationing is unavoidable.  Proposed (and already implemented) cuts in Medicare will result in additional reductions in services and benefits–and death among the elderly and disabled.


  • Continuing to expand Medicaid will result in increasingly burdensome taxes on most Americans (especially small businesses, the backbone of our nation) and the demise of major private insurance providers and individual choice.

 The Devil Is in the Details

  • Expanding government control over healthcare will not be limited to simply a choice of insurance providers.


  • It will also involve impersonal medical boards that dictate decisions about whether to treat—or not to treat patients based on Quality of Life (QOL) formulas such as the one used in Great Britain.

This saves money—not lives.

  •  These boards ignore the importance of physician-patient relationships, replacing this human aspect of healthcare and decision-making with pre-planned prescriptions for treatment.


  • Obama Care includes a push (and incentive funding) for all physicians and hospitals to use electronic medical records (EMR) which will be used to help implement rationing.  Physicians will not be able to order a medication or procedure that is not on the pre-approved list.  The elderly, disabled and unborn children will be the first victims of this “reform” mandate.


  • Lack of physician control over their patients accompanied by controls on their income will lead to fewer available physicians as liabilities increase and  incentives to practice diminish


  • Rising costs, less availability of care and services are natural progressions when the free market is taken out of the equation


  • Even if South Carolina and other states choose to participate in proposed state exchanges (pools of insurance providers), these exchanges, meant to provide expanded options, will still be controlled by federal mandates and regulations

Free Market, Consumer-Driven Solutions

The 3 big issues in Healthcare are: Cost, Access and Quality of Care.


Cost has become an issue in part because of the illusion that no one has to pay.  Small co-pays or the availability of “free” healthcare means there is little incentive for people to practice healthy lifestyles or to save on healthcare costs.  Encouraging individual Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or vouchers for government subsidized healthcare programs empowers the individual to manage their own healthcare, and make free market choices. Competition for more clients encourages insurance companies to lower cost, and provide greater access to care.


Competition creates options.  Why not allow individuals to choose their own insurance and healthcare providers?  Whether it’s the employer or government that subsidizes care, individual choices should not be limited.  Also, when physicians compete for the same patients, quality of care increases while prices decrease.  Patients, not bureaucrats, need to evaluate price and quality to decide what is the best value for them.

Quality of Care

True competition drives quality up by encouraging innovations and new technology.  Research supports the fact that customer service is better when consumers have options.

Productive Healthcare vs. Healthcare Management

  • Prevention vs. prescription: with  a more consumer-friendly plan,  employers could offer their employees discounts for participation in wellness and prevention programs; fewer physician visits reduces premium costs
  • Rather than penalize employers for not providing healthcare, they could be offered tax incentives for providing options tailored to each individual
  • Privacy rights are more guarded and there’s less exposure to exploitation when individuals control their own healthcare plans
  •  Catastrophic pools:  State-based (as each state has unique healthcare issues) for major medical and chronic illness expenses.  Individuals could pay a nominal amount monthly to be included in this extended insurance

The bottom line for South Carolina and the nation is that we must reject the disastrous collectivism concept: “from the masses to the masses.”

We live in a nation of amazing healthcare providers who for the most part care deeply about their patients.  Maybe that is why none of us are rushing to other countries for healthcare—in fact, citizens of other countries are flocking here.

Yet even at this juncture, there is hope for America and can experience positive changes–just not through more government intervention.

Instead, real hope and change that actually endures will be the result of continuing to exercise our freedom of choice, legacy of independence and our spirit of ingenuity.  To do otherwise is to take another giant step down the road to enslavement.

About Dianna Lightfoot

A member of the Palmetto Liberty PAC board, Dianna Lightfoot is the founder and president of the National Physicians Center (NPC). She has also worked as Executive Vice President of the South Carolina Policy Council and Director of the Alabama Policy Institute’s Physicians Resource Council. Ms. Lightfoot holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Community Relations, a counseling license and a secondary teaching credential. Dianna’s public service experience includes acting as chief advisor to the Bush White House’s Adolescent Health Initiative, and appointments to serve on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Advisory Council on Domestic Violence; Chair for U.S. Health and Human Services’ National Review Board on Infant Adoption and the U.S. President’s Family Justice Initiative. In addition, she has spoken at numerous international health and education conferences and partnered with Chinese and African government leaders on multiple projects related to health and child welfare. Dianna is passionate about promoting and supporting the principles of limited government, free enterprise and personal responsibility in South Carolina and throughout the nation.

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