More People Confused About ObamaCare

A CBS News poll conducted last weekend shows that 51% of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, yet 55% of them oppose defunding the health overhaul law.

One reason for this contradiction: People are confused about the law. A growing number of them — 44% — are unsure what the law actually does and doesn’t do.

This is exactly the change the White House is hoping for. If people think ObamaCare really was only about keeping kids on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26, or providing “free” preventive care, or helping people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance, then what was the big deal?

They need to know now the damage it will do to our health sector and economy — the $500 billion in new taxes, more than $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, expensive mandates on business, unconstitutional mandates on individuals, a federal takeover of health insurance, a budget-busting expansion of Medicaid, soaring health costs, a loss of current coverage for tens of millions of people, and federal budget deficits that will explode with massive new entitlement spending.

All of this is coming as the regulation writers steamroll their way toward implementation in 2014 — if they aren’t stopped by Congress, the courts, or a new president.

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Straight talk on ObamaCare: We sponsored a briefing last Friday morning for Gov. Mitch Daniels to talk with health reporters about ObamaCare and the enormous challenges it presents to the states.

He said the health care overhaul law is “misguided” and “a terrible mistake” and predicts it will lead to a “slide into top-down single payer by another name.” The only hope, he says, is to start over. “I sincerely hope that we will hit the reset button.”

Peter Suderman of Reason magazine has an excellent summary of some of the governor’s policy prescriptions:

[T]he GOP should get specific with the public about what the country can and cannot afford to do — and push policy accordingly. For starters, he wants to make Medicaid look more like his Healthy Indiana Program. He also favors “rigorous” means testing of all entitlement programs and a shift toward “concentrating resources on people who are the most vulnerable.” Too many politicians, he says, have “fanatically held onto the idea that you have to send a pension check to Warren Buffet.”

But the biggest change he says he’d make is to delink insurance from employment — a change that has been politically impossible because it would require many individuals to let go of their current health insurance. Letting individuals buy coverage when they’re healthy and keep it, even through job changes, would go a long way toward addressing current problems with individuals not being able to get coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

More broadly, he says he’s looking for “ways to restore the autonomy of individual Americans.” There is a “big body of evidence,” he argues, showing that when it comes to medical care, “people behave like the smart consumers they are in every other circumstance.”

Gov. Daniels was in Washington to deliver a keynote speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that was praised in a column yesterday by George Will, who concluded Daniels has the “charisma of competence.”

Daniels, who served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush before running for governor in Indiana, had grave warnings about the threat to our country’s future and prosperity of the new “red menace” of deficit spending.

America faces “a survival-level threat,” he said. No enterprise, public or private, “can remain self-governing, let alone successful, so deeply in hock to others as we are about to be.”

On both the health law and the burgeoning federal budget deficit, immediate corrective action is essential, he insisted.

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Doctors’ Distress: I attended a virtual briefing yesterday about a survey of physician attitudes in 11 countries, conducted by APCO Insight for Pfizer. It paints a chilling picture of the dissatisfaction in the U.S. and other countries where doctors feel they are losing their authority to make medical decisions to bureaucracies that dictate how they must practice:

  • Nearly half of doctors surveyed in the U.S. and three-fourths of those in Germany believe the practice of medicine is going in a negative direction.

  • Doctors, especially in the most developed countries, are most concerned about administrative burdens and outside interference in medical decisions.

  • Large majorities of physicians in the U.S., Germany, and France believe that the condition of their health systems will be worse in the future.

  • By a two-to-one margin, U.S. physicians rate the new health law as unfavorable (50%) vs. favorable (24%).

  • Doctors in the U.S. were more likely than those in any other country to say they expect to leave medical practice sooner than they had originally planned.

  • While doctors in most countries have a generally favorable view of clinical assessments of treatments and technologies, they want them to be voluntary. The survey found that 51% of physicians in the U.S. believe treatment guidelines that come from government or insurance companies have a negative impact on patient health.

The conclusion is clear that doctors want to spend more time with patients and not paperwork, and they want to treat patients according to their best medical judgment, not the dictates of outside payers.

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Budget double cross: Politicians are generally terrible business partners, as many of those who supported passage of the health law now are learning.

President Obama wooed many biotechnology companies to support passage of the massive health overhaul law that included a promise that new biologic drugs would have 12 years of “market exclusivity” before other companies could offer copies of their drugs.

But in his very first budget after passage of the law, the president proposes cutting the period of market exclusivity to just seven years, giving many companies too little time to recoup their $1 billion-plus investments.

Biologic manufacturers rightly fear that cutting the time of patent protection for biologic drugs will upend their business models and dry up resources to invest in research to develop new treatments.

Biologic drugs are complex and expensive medicines derived from proteins manufactured in living cells. These are 21st century medicines that Europeans understand need longer patent protection if they are going to make the tremendous investment. This could be an industry we lose to Europe if the president’s double-cross prevails.

The budget contains hundreds of pages of other hidden gems, including the call for a new government institute to do drug research and bring new medicines to market. The reason? The administration is concerned at the decline in the number of new drugs from private companies.

The contradiction is rich. Drug companies must navigate the lengthy and extraordinarily expensive approval process to bring new drugs, biologics, and medical devices to market. And now they are facing disturbing new regulatory hurdles that can block access to markets even after the FDA has determined their product to be safe and effective.

Patients and taxpayers would be better served if the government would instead use the money to modernize the regulatory process that is discouraging private investment and clogging the pipeline of new drugs and devices, as I explain in a piece I wrote today for Real Clear Markets.

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A tragic loss: We were shocked and saddened to learn that our dear friend and valued colleague, Jack Calfee, died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday night. Jack was a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a preeminent expert on pharmaceutical policy and economics.

He was a generous, kind, and loving husband and father who spoke his mind but who always had kindness and good humor in his heart. We will miss Jack terribly. May he rest in peace.


Grace-Marie Turner on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal

In this interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Grace-Marie Turner speaks about the recent legal decisions regarding the health law.
Watch now >>


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What Causes Drug Shortages?

Grace-Marie Turner
The Morning Journal, 02/14/11

While Washington wrestles with the mind-numbing details of implementing the new health overhaul law, there is a growing problem in the health sector that could seriously compromise patient care: drug shortages. Reports recently submitted to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) indicate that there’s widespread alarm among doctors and nurses that shortages of medically necessary pharmaceuticals are harming patient health. In September alone, nearly 50 pharmaceuticals were on the Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortage list. And this list doesn’t even tell the full story since it only reports on drugs that treat or prevent serious medical conditions for which no alternative treatments are available. The FDA, pharmaceutical companies, medical practitioners, and other experts need to join forces to analyze the sources of drug shortages and develop a plan to solve them. Without coordinated, determined action, drug shortages could soon become one of our most critical public health problems.
Read More »


Health Reform’s Central Flaw: Too Much Power In One Office
Michael O. Leavitt, The Washington Post, 02/18/11

Obama Administration Seeks Clarification on Scope of Health-Care Ruling
Andrew M. Harris and Tom Schoenberg, Bloomberg, 02/18/11

Broken Promises: How Obamacare Undercuts Existing Health Insurance
John Hoff, The Heritage Foundation, 02/07/11

Accountable Care Organizations: The End of Innovation in Medicine?
Scott Gottlieb, American Enterprise Institute, 02/11

Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law
Michael D. Tanner, Cato Institute, 02/14/11

On the Wings of Their Court Victory, States Should Advance Health Care Freedom
Robert Moffit, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation, 02/10/11

President Should Heed Court and Stop Implementing ObamaCare
Michael F. Cannon and Ilya Shapiro, The Providence Journal, 02/16/11

Who Tries to Find Objective Information on Health Care? Findings From the 2010 Health Confidence Survey
Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, 02/11

Debunking the Leading ObamaCare Litigation Myths
Cory L. Andrews, The Examiner, 02/11/11

The Contradictions of ObamaCare
John Hoff and John E. Calfee, The American, 02/10/11

Does Health Care Reform Help U.S. Business?
Thomas P. Miller, Council on Foreign Relations Expert Roundup, 02/10/11

Medical Treatment, Out of Reach
Andrew Pollack, The New York Times, 02/09/11


New System Limits Medicare Patients’ Provider Choices, 02/11

Improving Ryan’s Medicare Reform Plan
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 02/10/11

Medicare Spending and Financing: A Primer
Lisa Potetz, Juliette Cubanski and Tricia Neuman, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 02/11


Easy Access, Quality Care: The Role for Retail Health Clinics in New York
Paul Howard, Manhattan Institute, 02/11


ObamaCare Anniversary Video Contest
Independent Women’s Voice Contest
Deadline is March 19, 2011

Deciphering the Marketing Impact of Health Care Reform
University of St. Thomas Event
Thursday, February 24, 2011
7:30am – 9:00am
Minneapolis, MN

Next Steps in Health Reform
KaiserEDU Essay Contest
Deadline is February 28, 2011

Reforming America’s Health Care System: The Flawed Vision of ObamaCare
Cato Institute Book Forum
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Washington, DC
Grace-Marie Turner will discuss her contribution to this new book from Hoover Institution Press.

Regulation in a 21st Century Economy
Mercatus Center at George Mason University Event
Thursday, March 3, 2011
8:30am – 1:00pm
Washington, DC