The Edmond Sun

Nation & World

January 3, 2014

Lankford says health law breaks doctor-patient trust

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The trust relationship patients have with their longtime physicians has been broken by the Affordable Care Act, Congressman James Lankford said.

“That doctor knows you — they know your file — they know how you talk to each other,” said Lankford, R-Edmond. “If you lose someone and you know how to talk to them, you’ve lost a lot of medical gain for your family.”

Americans do not like being told what to do whether they are liberal or conservative, he said. And the congressman said Americans will hear more of these types of problems as they learn more in 2014 about their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act.

With his presidential legacy on the line, Obama vowed to improve the federal exchanges to protect his landmark piece of legislation. Improvements to the federal health care exchange in December brought 1.1 million more health insurance consumers to the market place, according to the White House.

“More than half a million Americans have enrolled through healthcare.gov in the first three weeks of December alone,” Obama said.

This did not include expanding Medicaid coverage and ACA enrollments due to state-based exchanges. Enrollment surged in December with more than 2.1 million people enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the federal and state-based exchange marketplaces.

Health care insurance kicked-in for these enrollees Jan. 1. The White House still calls for a projected 7.1 million enrollees by March 31.

Obama’s goal had been to enroll 3.3 million consumers by Dec. 31. The federal website serves 36 states. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin resisted the creation of a state exchange and Medicaid expansion for Oklahomans.

By November, new eligibility and renewals for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program grew by 3.9 million, in the U.S. Additionally, young adults are able to stay on their family’s plan until they turn 26.

Lankford described a likely scenario for a cancer patient covered by the ACA. A patient covered for cancer treatment at a large area hospital will not necessarily be denied coverage there by an insurance company, Lankford said.

If an Oklahoman living with an advanced stage of cancer wanted to go to a comprehensive cancer treatment center such as M.D. Anderson in Houston, it is likely their insurance company would deny their treatment there and send them to a local hospital, Lankford said.

President Obama’s administration will blame insurance companies for being the problem, Lankford said. The next day, the administration will have a meeting with top insurance executives from the largest carriers and will promise them tax dollars to subsidize them, he added.

“Obamacare has built into it a huge bailout from insurance companies,” Lankford said. Obama is choosing winners and losers who are friendly with the administration, he said.

“This administration has gone out of its way to subsidize banks, to subsidize car companies and now also subsidizing insurance companies with federal tax dollars,” he said.

A physician whose practice does not honor federal exchange markets told Lankford last week that all of his patients on federal exchange programs are no longer his patients. The insurance companies are paying physicians a lower rate than what Medicaid pays, which has historically been the lowest rate paid by anyone, Lankford said.

Patients will have to pay cash if they choose to continue as the physician’s patient. The insurance companies pick and choose the physician to fulfill the ACA plan, Lankford said.

“That’s what’s happening now in January. People are now finding out their deductible is higher, the rates they have to pay each month is higher. Many people are finding out the doctor they went to for years is no longer on the plan they have,” Lankford said.

So insurance companies will choose younger doctors with newer practices, Lankford said.

Some insurance coverage has been made illegal to purchase because it does not meet all of the requirements of the ACA. More than 6 million people nationwide have received notification that their private insurance has been canceled, Lankford said

“They had to go then to find insurance through the federal exchange or state exchanges,” he said.

Whether or not they have lost their insurance or are merely being redirected to a plan that is compatible with ACA standards will be answered on a person-to-person basis, Lankford said.

Some of those individuals are finding they’ll have to pay significantly more with higher deductibles, he said. Other people have learned they will pay less.

“So they might have had a $500 deductible and they paid $300 a month. Now they’re finding out they’re going to pay $450 a month and their deductible is $2,000 or more.

“And, they have (less) access to doctors.”

More than 70 percent of Americans covered under the ACA will receive subsidies to offset their coverage, according to a report by Families USA, a Washington, D.C., think tank supporting the ACA.

Open enrollment began in October for the federal exchanges.

Obama apologized for the early roll-out failures, saying computer glitches had caused the system to fail.

Meanwhile the Affordable Care Act has helped keep health care costs growing at their slowest rate in 50 years, Obama said.

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