The Federal government rollout of the Obamacare healthcare exchanges is an epic disaster. Disregarding a multitude of warnings, the overconfident Executive Branch knowingly unleashed an untested, unperfected massive data-gathering machine on the public for perceived political expediency, putting private medical, financial, and identity information and the actual lives of the American people at risk. President Obama’s hand-picked Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebilius, remains in charge in spite of unprecedented glitches, excuses, cover-ups and flat-out lies. Prior to 2008, I naively believed that the most exceptional country in the history of the world was infallible, incapable of such irresponsible, risky behavior, that a life serving the sick as a physician was the most noble profession, and that our government leaders must be even more exceptional, noble and dedicated to lives of service to others than average Americans. And then I collided head-on with reality.
My father overcame poverty through hard work and education to become a pioneering neurosurgeon dedicated to honoring the tradition, serving the sick and advancing the field. I followed in his footsteps as did two of my daughters. The rite of passage traversed to become a physician is beyond articulation, known only to those of us who have “been there, done that, live that”. Accordingly, I could hardly imagine the extent of Obama’s and Sebilius’ qualifications as they now control the practice of American medicine and 1/6 of the American economy. Yet, I can find no record of their superlative grades, test scores or testaments to their unwavering strength of character, virtue and moral compass as required of the very physicians they now regulate and control. I find no evidence that they have any experience with medicine whatsoever. Let me be clear, in medicine there is zero tolerance for glitches, excuses, cover-ups or lies, because that will kill patients; that is malpractice, period. They just don’t get that. They are hypocrites operating from the false premise that they are better than the rest of us, empowered to mandate edicts, grant waivers and enforce penalties in God-like fashion for the collective good. They are not worthy of our trust. I am deeply concerned for my patients, and as a patient I am deeply concerned for my own survival.
Secretary Sebilius, the privileged daughter of a Governor, graduated from Trinity Washington University with a political science degree (as did Nancy Pelosi, coincidentally) and earned a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. She served as executive director and chief lobbyist for the Kansas Trial Lawyers, was elected Insurance Commissioner and then Governor of Kansas, and ultimately appointed HHS Secretary by President Obama (whose grades and test scores remain sealed and whose strength of character, virtue and moral compass are reported as anything but unwavering-talk about glitches). Neither she nor Obama are physicians, and for all we know, neither have ever even taken a science class. In fact, I have realized that physicians and politicians are polar opposites of one another. Strength of character, humility, unrelenting pursuit of truth and respect for the dignity of life are at the core of the physician’s soul. Politicians of this administration are over-confident relativists who lack respect for the dignity of life-they are cold, calculating, and soul-less. Here’s the real glitch: these Alinsky-inspired politicians can’t provide the care they promise. They promise our services, which aren’t theirs to promise. The promise of insurance from a politician is not actual medical care from a physician.
My father gave me one of my favorite books, King of Hearts- The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery by G. Wayne Miller, described by Dr. Denton Cooley as “a great read about surgeons who made a lasting difference to their profession and to humanity”. I remain struck by the sheer genius, innovation, and courage of Dr. Walt Lillehei, the inventor of open heart surgery and savior of thousands of patients’ lives. I remain shaken by his professional and personal destruction, the loss of his medical license and conviction for tax evasion at the hand of President Nixon’s IRS. Coincidentally, Dr. Lillehei had supported Nixon’s opponent. Richard Nixon was ultimately impeached- Watergate and his infamous Enemies List, pieces of Presidential history not to be forgotten.
Flash forward to Obama’s IRS and his lawless agents, Lois Lerner and Sarah Hall Ingram, currently under investigation for targeting Americans while simultaneously charged with implementing Obamacare. My source of inspiration and hope, Dr. Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon and author of America the Beautiful, opposes Obamacare and voiced his opinion in front of Obama at The National Prayer Breakfast. My friend and colleague, Dr. Dave Janda, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and author of The Awakening of a Surgeon opposes Obamacare and voices his opinion on his freedom-based radio talk show. Both of these honorable, beloved, God-fearing American physicians were attacked by the corrupt, Obama/Lerner/Ingram IRS within a 24 hour period in June, 2013. (personal communication) No, we have not forgotten Presidential-IRS history.
Obamacare destroys the sacred, truth/trust-based patient-physician relationship and replaces it with the money/power-based government-patient relationship. Government panels of appointed bureaucrats such as the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), PQRI, IPAB and The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research now supersede physicians, the standard of care that has made American medicine exceptional, and recommendations of the likes of The American Cancer Society and all medical specialty societies. The prime example of this medical travesty brought to us by Obamacare is the 2009 USPSTF debacle regarding mammogram recommendations. The 2009 recommendations used faulty data selection and analysis, factored in allocation of resources (money and rationing) and strategically did not note in their report that patient outcomes were 70% better under the old recommendations-the very ones which have given American women the earliest diagnosis and longest survival rates in the world. There were no breast cancer experts of the panel. You see, convoluted government mentality is counter to medical reasoning. The government does not want experts in the respective fields to serve on the panels, because they think (based on their illogical behavior) the decisions will be self-serving. Conversely, in medicine we desire experts on the panels, because they serve what’s best for the life of each individual patient (based on common sense and ethics). The USPSTF gave mammograms a C rating for women under fifty and an I rating for women over 74, meaning they would not be fully covered as preventive care under Sec. 2713 of Obamacare. Obamacare’s fate in Congress was on the line, and public outcry was tremendous. For political expediency, Kathleen Sebilius called this a “little glitch” and flippantly added a vague one sentence, nonspecific stipulation to Obamacare disregarding the 2009 recommendations. By Sebilius-fiat, the 2002 USPSTF trump the 2009 recs-at least for now, and who knows for how long. The arrogant USPSTF never admitted their mistake. Sadly, newer, safer, better technology exists but is trumped by eleven year old USPSTF government recs. A sole woman, a political science major–public administrator-nondoctor-career politician-Presidential appointee has unlimited power and money to do whatever she wants to 314,000,000 Americans at her whim via power granted her by Obamacare. The potential for abuse of power by her and Obama through her is unprecedented. Now that Obamacare is “Law of the Land” and there is less need to be politically expedient, no doubt, we will be stuck with glitchy government recommendations going forward, with no recourse. That the USPSTF gave the PSA test for men a grade of D (not covered) and will not change their recommendations supports this contention. We will see thousands of men suffer and die needlessly over the next ten years as a result of this Obamacare glitch.
The current exchange rollout glitch is not so “little”. It is a very big glitch which appears to be beyond the scope of Sebilius’ scepter. She spent hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on a Canadian company, that had no competitive bidders and whose product does not work. While it would be politically expedient for her to “fix this glitch”, she can’t. She is out of her realm with insurance, computers and patients. She is not a doctor; she is a career politician, appointee of a President who wants single payer medicine AKA socialized medicine. As Obama stated, he wants to fundamentally transform the United States of America, and Obamacare, his signature legislation, is the manifesto to do just that. Obama and Sebilius are the hostage takers, and we, the American patients and physicians are the hostages. They are the extorters; we are the extorted. They pick who lives and who dies, and we wait, and wait until it’s too late…unless enough of us will stand strong in the manner of noble, courageous, pioneering physicians, the likes of my father, Dr. Lillehei, Dr. Carson and Dr. Janda, and say NO to these glitching usurpers and their IRS hit list. The only way not to lose is not to play. Will we refuse to comply and refuse to play this most dangerous game? Or will we cower as unwitting accomplices on a quest for a false medical Utopia, as American medicine suffers the same glitched-up fate as the Obamacare exchange rollout under Secretary Sebilius and President Obama’s reign of political expediency. They can’t do it without us. We’ve got what they want, we’ve got what they need, and they can’t have it. Our lives are a glitch-free, snitch-free zone.
Kris Held, MD
October 19, 2013