Igor Berman’s grandmother died an American citizen after decades of suffering under Soviet rule. Despite all the hardships she faced she held on to her dream of America and freedom — a dream millions of people all over the world share, he said.
The country’s current political path could devastate those dreams, Congressman Tom McClintock’s chief of staff, who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1994, told guests at the Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills meeting Wednesday night.
“If we screw up this country there’s no place for us to go,” Berman proclaimed.
Applause and cheers filled the Lakehills Covenant Church auditorium where a receptive crowd of nearly 300 came to hear panel members discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, which was signed into law in 2010.
Joining Berman at the podium were Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Tim Sandefur, Physicians Council for Responsible Reform member Dr. Ronald Tachibana, Pam McDonald with McDonald Medical Consultants and Midtown Primary Care Associates, and Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes.
Taking a jab at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sandefur said, “I have not read the entire law, which means I’m qualified for Congress.”
Sandefur’s employer sued the federal government over the act — a lawsuit that ended with a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the law’s provision that allows the government to tax those who do not purchase health insurance but denying the government the power to mandate that everyone buy health insurance.
Despite what liberal media has reported, Sandefur asserted, “We did not lose.”
Sandefur waited in line to hear the arguments made before the Supreme Court earlier this year and, he said, the fight to repeal Obamacare is far from over. He couldn’t elaborate on PLF’s next legal move but told the audience they could help by telling their representatives to put a halt on state Health Insurance Exchanges.
On HealthCare.gov the exchanges are described as “a mechanism for organizing the health insurance marketplace to help consumers and small businesses shop for coverage in a way that permits easy comparison of available plan options based on price, benefits and services, and quality. By pooling people together, reducing transaction costs, and increasing transparency, exchanges create more efficient and competitive markets for individuals and small employers.”
California was the first state to enact legislation creating a health benefit exchange under federal health care reform, according to the state’s website. “Starting in 2014, the California Health Benefit Exchange will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to compare plans and buy health insurance on the private market,” the site states.
But Sandefur compared exchanges to an airport shopping mall “where you only have two choices and the prices are sky high.”
Panel members stressed that not only will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act make health care more expensive — the Congressional Budget Office reported that the average family of four would see a $2,100 premium increase — it could also make health care less accessible.
Pipes, who has written two books on the healthcare law, grew up in Canada where she said the demand for health care outpaces the supply. Patients who want to see a specialist wait an average of 19 weeks, according to Pipes, and treatment from that specialist takes another nine weeks.
Pipes’ mother died of colon cancer — a result, she said, of the lag time between her mother sensing something was wrong and when she was able to receive a diagnosis and treatment.
Just getting to a primary care doctor could become an issue under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Dr. Tachibana, who has practiced in Sacramento for the last 33 years, used himself as an example.
“Because of Obamacare it may be impossible for me to continue my practice,” he said.
The act’s proposed reimbursement rates and regulations have made the profession less appealing and inspired some doctors to retire, said Tachibana, who also teaches at UC Davis and the University of Southern California. It was noted earlier in the evening that President Barack Obama back-pedaled on his guarantee that the law would allow patients to keep their chosen doctors. Provisions snuck into the bill before it passed might have violated that pledge, the president said in a taped interview played at the Tea Party meeting.
Tachibana said he feared the best and brightest doctors would choose to practice somewhere else, adding, “I’m afraid for all of the patients who will be exposed to that.”
On a local note, Marshall Medical Center CEO James Whipple said the local healthcare provider expects to see a $58 million cut over the next 10 years because of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Local doctors partnering with Marshall would take an additional $15 million to $20 million hit and, like Tachibana and Pipes predict, that could mean a doctor shortage in El Dorado County, he added, lamenting, “Which is terrible because most doctors love practicing medicine.”
Reform in the area of medical malpractice — doctors spend about 50 percent of earnings on insurance and malpractice-related costs — would significantly help doctors stay in business, Tachibana stressed. He encouraged the audience to support legislators who want real reform and “sweep out the rest of the trash on Nov. 6.”