Chamber told health care promises will fail

The goals set by government officials through the Affordable Care Act will not be met.

That was the message Dr. Roger Stark, a health-care policy analyst for the Washington Policy Center, delivered June 14 during the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting.

Stark, who was a co-founder of the open-heart surgery program at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, said government officials claims during the 14-month debate before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 are not factual. Perhaps the most significant is that the act would provide universal health-care coverage.

Stark said the Affordable Care Act also will not allow everyone to keep their existing health-insurance plans. He said employers, which would be faced with escalating costs and more government regulations, will have to make an “economic” decision on whether to continue to offer benefits to employees.  Nationally, Stark said an estimated 6.3 million retirees receive drug benefits from their former employers. He said if employers elect to stop offering drug benefits, retirees could be forced into Medicare. Stark said that would break President Obama’s promise that no one who wanted to keep their health coverage would lose it under his plan.

Government officials also proclaimed the Affordable Care Act would save money and reduce the country’s deficit during the first 10 years. While the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health-care law will cost $940 billion during its first 10 years, Stark said the largest part of the funding will come from $455 billion in cuts to Medicare.

He said many doctors already lose money when they see Medicare and Medicaid patients because they are reimbursed significantly less. Stark said making cuts to these programs would compound access problems that already exist.

He said the new law gives federal government “unprecedented” control over health care.

Stark said that might mean the President’s advisory board will make recommendations on care to provide and patients based on controlling costs in addition to what might be the best remedy. For example, his report indicated that heart surgery for anyone more than 70 years old could be prohibited with medical care redirected to younger patients.

Stark’s report also indicated that the Affordable Care Act will not curtail “waste, fraud and abuse.” He noted that young adults, which are classified as being 18 to 34 years old, are the least likely to need health coverage because they have survived childhood illnesses and generally are not as susceptible to cancer and heart-related problems as their elders. Because of that, Stark said their insurance premiums will be “artificially high.”

“Everyone goes into the same risk pool paying the same premium-company rate,” he said. “Private insurance must offer you insurance no matter how sick you are. That is why we have insurance premiums going up as insurance companies anticipate risk.”

Finally, he said the Affordable Care Act will violate a person’s fundamental rights with the requirement to purchase a private product. Stark discounts the argument that it should not be an issue because people are required to purchase automobile insurance. He noted that is a state — not federal — law.

“You have the option not to drive,” Stark said.

He said the 2,700-page Affordable Care Act is so vast that he could spend days “talking about what’s in it.”

But he acknowledged that might be a fruitless exercise. After all, the law could be ruled unconstitutional later this month by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“A lot of what I told you this afternoon may not come true,” he said. “This will be one of the most important rulings by the Supreme Court, at least in our lifetime.”


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