Archive for March, 2015


Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Dr. Lee Hieb: ‘I think it’s an intended consequence’ By Paul Bremmer 3-24-15

The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is forcing many rural hospitals to close – just like it was meant to do, according to the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
“I think that’s what the ACA was really designed to bring about,” said Dr. Lee Hieb. “You can say it’s an unintended consequence. I’m not sure; I think it’s an intended consequence.”

Forty-eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and 283 others are in danger of closing, according to the Washington Post . Most of those closures were in the South, with 10 of them in Texas alone.
Hieb, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and author of “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare,” believes leftists want health care to be as centralized as possible. This means fewer hospitals and fewer specialists.
Rural hospitals are ripe for closures because they tend to serve more elderly and poor patients, which translates to more Medicare and Medicaid patients. Many of these hospitals have been losing money lately because the federal government, under the Affordable Care Act, has cut back on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.

“Up until now, hospitals have failed and succeeded, they’ve come and gone just like businesses,” Hieb said. “Some are better-run than others, but the economic deck was not totally stacked against them. Now, unfortunately, the economic deck is stacked against them in such a way that, universally, smaller hospitals are disenfranchised.”
Dr. Hieb went so far as to compare the shuttering of rural hospitals to the infamous Reichstag fire, which some believe was a false flag attack by Nazi Germany.

“This is going to be like the Reichstag fire,” Hieb proclaimed. “It’s going to be an excuse to say, ‘Look, the free market failed, and now we can go in and institute universal health care, because you see, these people in these rural areas need healthcare, and you’re not getting it to them.’

Hieb predicted the closure of rural hospitals in “Surviving the Medical Meltdown.” In the book, she warns, “In the near future, there will be many underserved areas. Finding a doctor will be harder and harder, especially for the poor, the rural, and the elderly.” She says the government often deems certain treatments “unnecessary” in order to avoid having to reimburse providers for them. Read the full report and get all the details in “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.”

The result is predictable: economic failure of hospitals and physician practices that have become dependent on government payment for large segments of their population,” Hieb says. “The hospitals and offices that will close are those with the least private insurance.” Hieb explains that “whereas private insurance might pay the surgeon $4,500 for a spinal surgery (my specialty), Medicare paid less than $1,200.” Once rural hospitals close, it creates a snowball effect, according to Hieb. Doctors will move to areas where hospitals are still viable – areas with a high ratio of private insurance to government insurance. The few doctors who remain in rural areas will see their workloads increase, leading to stress. Hieb herself experienced a situation like this when she worked at a hospital in Arizona that served many Medicare patients.

“In general medicine and other areas, hospital on-call nights were so brutal – keeping doctors up all night in spite of working all the next day – that all the doctors who could function outside the hospital chose to leave the hospital staff for purely outpatient practices,” Hieb wrote. “Those who could afford to retire did so. And in orthopedics, we were left with four surgeons doing the work that was being done elsewhere by 10 or more.” So the increased patient loads will take a toll on the physicians who remain, driving even more of them away. In fact, many of them will not simply move away or retire, but actually take their own lives. Hieb points out that physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession. They are 1.87 times as likely to kill themselves as the average American worker.

Once the supply of doctors in an area has been depleted, Hieb notes, it becomes harder to replenish the supply.
“In areas where fewer and fewer physicians remain, it is very difficult to recruit new physicians to the job – since the new docs do not want to be forced to cover impossible patient loads,” Hieb says. “Around the country, there are already these medical ‘black holes’ – areas without coverage for certain specialties.” One such “black hole” is in eastern Texas, where the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System ended inpatient care at the hospitals in the rural communities of Gilmer and Mount Vernon at the end of 2014. An ETMC official blamed the closures partly on cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, a product of Obamacare.

“Poor utilization and declining reimbursements across the board make providing inpatient care unfeasible,” said Perry Henderson, ETMC senior vice president for affiliate operations, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph . “When you average only two to four patients a day, you can’t even begin to cover the overhead costs associated with providing quality inpatient care. This underutilization combined with declining reimbursements rates, especially from Medicare and Medicaid, led to unsustainable losses at the hospital.”



Monday, March 16th, 2015

Growing signs of U.S. health-care’s ‘catastrophic collapse’
WASHINGTON – The signs are everywhere of an imminent “catastrophic collapse” of the U.S. health-care system that will leave Americans clamoring for medical attention, medical supplies and hospital care, says the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Lee Hieb, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and author of a new book called “Surviving the Medical Meltdown,” says the evidence is mounting that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, is making health care scarcer and that the worst is yet to come:
• Shortages of everyday medical supplies – from tetanus toxoid to thyroid, not to mention standard medical equipment – are everyday occurrences now in both urban and rural areas;
• Wait time for routine specialty care is dramatically increasing;
• There are not enough specialists to cover emergency-room calls;
• Hospitals in inner cities and poorer rural regions around the country are closing their doors rather than face economic ruin; and
• It is difficult in some areas to find a primary care physician, especially for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“Catastrophic collapse due to a ‘doctor death spiral’ will occur when we drop below a critical number of practicing physicians,” Hieb predicts. “As our population ages, it requires more physician man-hours of medical care. But as our population ages, so too do our physicians. More than half of the surgeons who cover emergency rooms are over 50. And although they are some of the most productive physicians, they are being overloaded and overstressed, and are beginning to burn out. Many are retiring early; others are dramatically reducing their patient loads. Recent surveys suggest up to 60 percent of physicians are preparing to do one or the other within two years.”
Are you prepping for hard times ahead? Make sure “Surviving the Medical Meltdown” by Dr. Lee Hieb is part of your survival library.

Yet, the problems evident today, she says, represent the tip of the iceberg headed for the kind of medical care to which Americans have become accustomed. “The one certainty? Things will be getting much worse because the current system is unsustainable – either in manpower or in dollars and cents,” she explains.

Hieb doesn’t spend a lot of time in her book explaining how Obamacare will lead to this tipping point. Instead, “Surviving the Medical Meltdown” is written to prepare Americans to make it through the coming crisis – from insurance issues, getting the most from your doctor’s visits, how to avoid unhealthy foods and toxins that can make you sick and stockpiling the most important medical supplies for yourself and your family.

The one place to which Hieb argues Americans should not look for medical help is the government.
“As the current medical system collapses of its own internal inconsistencies, people who have been conditioned to look to government for solutions will predictably look to the federal government for help,” she says. “And government being government will never ignore the chance of using a crisis to further its agenda of power and growth. But let’s look around us. How has government done in the fields of education, banking, the post office or the DMV?”

She answers her own question: “Single-source medical care is lousy. The longer such a system exists, the worse it becomes. By the time the Berlin Wall fell and we could peek into the world of Soviet medicine, for example, 57 percent of Soviet hospitals had no hot water, and 36 percent had no running water at all. There were dead cats lying in the hallways, and a legion of babies were exposed to HIV because needles were reused without sterilization.”
One of the first signs of collapse of the medical system, Hieb says, will be hospital closings. And that is already happening, as WND previously reported.

In 2013, 18 acute-care hospitals across the United States shut their doors in 2013. In 2014, at least 12 more hospitals closed in rural areas alone.


Kill Obamacare now or you never will

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Kill Obamacare, or U.S. healthcare will suffer same fate as Britain

A colleague of mine, a Conservative MEP, was cremated last month. Except he wasn’t: the hospital had released the wrong body to the undertakers. A second funeral has just been held with his actual remains — though, of course, nothing can be done for the family of whoever was cremated in error.

We take such incompetence for granted; it doesn’t make the news. Even when something happens that is atrocious enough to generate headlines — the latest scandal being what an official report calls a “systemic cover-up” of baby deaths in a hospital in North West England — no one calls for the system to be overhauled. The truth is that, after 60 years of a state monopoly in healthcare, most of my countrymen are unable to imagine any alternative.

It’s a vivid demonstration of what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo”. In most fields of life, Britons lean toward the free market. Our political culture is Anglosphere rather than European, in the sense that even Leftist politicians have to cloak their schemes in the language of liberty and enterprise. But when it comes to the National Health Service, the reverse is true. Every party has to guarantee that the NHS budget will continue to rise, whatever the other austerity measures. No party will contemplate an end to the state monopoly.

Which is why this is probably America’s last realistic chance to ditch Obamacare. Several aspects of it are being challenged in court, and the GOP has rallied behind an alternative plan — the one advanced by Representatives Scott, Flores and Roe — understanding that there is no point in attacking a policy unless you have a better one to put in its place.

Many American conservatives fondly assume that, as the cost and contradictions of Obamacare become clear, voters will turn against it. But that’s not how it works. People are change-averse by nature. We cling to familiar mediocrity rather than risk the unknown. This is especially true when interest groups arrange their affairs so as to benefit from the status quo.

Physicians, for example, were among the strongest opponents of the nationalization of British healthcare in the 1940s; now, they are among its keenest supporters. A similar shift is underway in the United States among the big pharma companies, who love the idea of doing cosy deals with officials controlling vast budgets. Whole new bureaucracies are springing into existence and, as Upton Sinclair liked to observe, “it is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

Healthcare engages us emotionally. British people will often say things like: “I won’t hear a word said against the NHS: it gave my Auntie Nora her new hip”. Of course, it’s the clinicians concerned who replaced Auntie Nora’s hip, but leave that aside. The odd thing is that they maintain this attitude even when things go horribly wrong.
In 2013, a report into a Mid Staffordshire Hospital showed that 1200 people had died needlessly. It made for disgusting reading, in every sense. There were reports of people left lying in blood and urine, elderly patients left unassisted in toilets for hours and other things too nauseating to write about.

Twelve-hundred people. Imagine any other institution causing so many deaths. Suppose a corporation killed 1200 of its customers through negligence. Directors would go to prison and the company would likely close. Yet, more than any multinational, more than any bank, the NHS, with its 1.4 million employees, really is “too big to fail”. When abominations like those in Mid Staffordshire are exposed, people rally round. “Let’s work together to improve our NHS instead of undermining it,” they say – which is, of course, a polite way to shut down the argument.

Obamacare isn’t a precise copy of the British system. But there is one parallel on which its exponents are relying, namely the conflation of their healthcare model with the people who work in it. The chairman of the body in charge of overseeing care quality in Britain recently put his finger on the problem:
“The NHS became too powerful to criticize. When things were going wrong, people didn’t say anything. If you criticized the NHS — the attitude was ‘how dare you?'”

Having been on the receiving end of that attitude more than most, I’ve noticed that it comes from two quite different sets of people. First, there is a knot of hardline Leftists, many of them in public sector trade unions. These are the types who pour out furious abuse online, who harassed my elderly mother after I had criticized the system, who drove the Mid Staffordshire whistleblower from her home. They will back the NHS, whatever its failings, because it is the only part of the British state that operates on socialist principles: contribution by ability, distribution by need, total government control.

Then there is the wider constituency: people whose personal experiences have been satisfactory, who have found NHS staff to be friendly and helpful, and who therefore see criticism as ungrateful. People in this second constituency have no ideological attachment to a state monopoly in healthcare. They simply remember that their doctors and nurses were, for the most part, good-natured, and that their treatment went well. This second constituency has been passively conscripted by the first.

I can see precisely such an alliance taking shape in the United States. You now have an alternative model before Congress, one based on individual freedom, property rights and increased competition. This is your last chance to strangle Obamacare at birth; flunk it, and you won’t get another. Dan Hannan is a British Conservative member of the European Parliament.