It seems lately in America we are going around one mulberry bush or another. If it isn’t unemployment, the debt crisis, unconstitutional executive orders, NSA spying or the various other problems including the numerous scandals overshadowing the Obama administration, it’s the Affordable Care Act aka the UnAffordable Care Act or Obamacare.
The State of Georgia, one of 25 that rejected to expand its Medicaid program, is now coming under fire since the fourth hospital in two years is about to close its doors in favor of becoming an “urgent care center” due to the major financial difficulties imposed upon it because of the Obamacare’s payment cuts for emergency services.
Lower Oconee Community Hospital, a 25 bed critical access hospital in southeastern Georgia, is experiencing severe cash flow problems. The area has an uninsured population of 23 percent. Many small rural hospitals across the nation face the same problem. In the past, the federal government has provided payment to hospitals who provide services to those without insurance or the inability to pay when those patients present to the emergency room for treatment. Federal law mandates that hospitals must care for all patients despite an ability or inability to pay for those services.
So, what has changed?
According to the Daily Caller:
Because the Affordable Care Act’s authors believed they’d forced all states to implement Medicaid expansion, Obamacare vastly cut hospital payments, the Associated Press reports.
The Supreme Court ruled that states could reject Medicaid expansion in 2012, as part of the decision that upheld Obamacare generally. Since that decision, the Obama administration has so far instituted 28 unilateral delays and changes to the health care law’s implementation without congressional approval, Fox Business reports.
Rural hospitals are not the only tragic victims of Obamacare. Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital has been, for decades, a regional trauma hospital serving patients across the state. It is also a hospital that serves primarily poor patients. In fact, 60 percent of the patients seen at Grady are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.
While many individuals throughout Georgia may have a poor view of Grady, as someone who has had the privilege of training at Grady, I can say that Grady has one of the best trauma centers and specialists of any hospital in the state. Many top physicians have privileges at Grady and many top area universities use Grady to train their medical and nursing students. Because of Grady’s unique position, patients from all over the state with a variety of illnesses and diseases, some not seen anywhere else, are afforded care and provide up and coming young doctors and nurses with a knowledge base incomparable to other hospitals in the state.
The financial problems being experienced by these hospitals are the result of governmental interference into a business that no career politician or administrative official has any experience or authority. It is highly unlikely any of these individuals have ever provided a health care service or know anything about health care in the slightest; yet these individuals have taken it upon themselves to draft a health care law, which in itself is unconstitutional. Everyone in America deserves to have quality health care. However, it is not the federal government that should be mandating any health care law, making payments to cover the uninsured and those unable to pay, or providing any health care insurance whatsoever. As the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Health care and health care insurance is big business. It is no wonder the federal government would want to tap into such a lucrative business, as health care accounts for 6 percent of the economy, and not just for money, but for the control of the population.
America does have an issue with individuals being uninsured or being unable to afford health care services. However, it is not the federal government’s place to solve those problems by appropriating money for health care, providing health care insurance, controlling the acquisition of health care services or subsidizing institutions with funds. This issue is best addressed at the state level or by the people themselves.
As a long time health care professional, it is my opinion that members of the health care profession and industry would be better suited to formulate a solution to the problem of health care services for individuals than any government ever could. These individuals are on the front lines of the issue in their respective geographic areas. They know best their population base, income base and economic status in order to formulate a solution beneficial to all residents who rely on their facilities for services. Regional hospitals, such as Grady, that provide services throughout the state could best determine a solution that would provide for advanced services to those individuals requiring more care than could be provided at a local community medical center or hospital.
Doctors and nurses in private practice are very familiar with their patient base and could offer a form of self-insurance to their patients with monthly fees based on income or provide services to individuals who do not have the ability to pay. Some doctors in some areas have already instituted a monthly payment fee to patients for services provided. There are several clinics in the Atlanta area that offer services at no charge to uninsured patients and those unable to pay; however, these services are limited but could be expanded given some forethought and planning.
It is not just doctors, nurses and hospitals either. It is pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies and other industries tied closely to the medical community that must recognize their place in providing care/services for those who are uninsured, under-insured or have the inability to pay.
I cannot definitively say why this has not happened. We all have our theories but for myself, I think many in the healthcare profession see it as a job, not a calling – a way to earn a living without actually taking stock of their importance in a humanitarian profession. I may be wrong on that assessment and if I am, so be it. However, I have seen enough in my years of practice and as a patient myself to come to that conclusion. Granted, it is not all health care professionals but it is enough that creates a gap in health care today.
The solution to the problem of not only accessible health care but a provision of health care for everyone is a complex one; but, it is not one that is out of reach if we look for the solution where we should – the people – and not any form of government.
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