Dr. Atlas: Obamacare Exchanges Will Leave Patients With Fewer Choices

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 08:34 PM

By By Bill Hoffmann and Kathleen Walter

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The federal government will have an even bigger role in Obamacare than anticipated because of the 26 health exchanges it must operate for states declining to set up their own, a top public policy expert says.

“If the federal government were to run the exchanges the states may be marginalized, actually, in the process,’’ Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

As well, the process of setting up the exchanges could very well be chaotic, Atlas suggested.

“It’s such a large task to get that kind of bureaucratic set-up accomplished, it remains to be seen if that can even be initiated appropriately,’’ he said.

Republicans have introduced to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board — a panel of federal employees assigned to reduce Medicare spending — which Rep. Paul Ryan warns would lead to the rationing of benefits.

“Congressman Ryan is absolutely correct … Their sole call is to reduce the medical payments for procedures,’’ Atlas said.

“If you reduce payments at a point at which doctors or hospitals will accept, the treatment for diagnostic tests will simply not become available and therefore it’s de facto rationing.’’

Story continues below the video.

Atlas said another concern about the IPAB is it is not bipartisan.

“It’s an appointed panel by the president,’’ he said. “The panel has really unprecedented authority … immune from Congressional oversight, judicial oversight.’’

Atlas said he wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s news that Dunkin Donuts wants the government to change its definition of full-time work from at least 30 hours per week to 40 or more hours per week.

“It’s just an illustration of something that was predicted and remains very predictable, and that is that the Affordability Care Act has significant downsides in terms of employment,’’ he said.

“The taxes and new regulations of Obamacare are not only … encouraging employers to actually reduce full-time workers to escape those penalties, but also the higher taxes make workers unable to afford to offer jobs.’’

Atlas believes Americans have not taken seriously the prediction that at least 7 million people will lose coverage when Obamacare is implemented.
“The president promised that no one will lose their insurance, no one will lose their coverage … It’s clearly not the case,’’ he said.

“Not only will employers drop … coverage to employees, they’ll also start possibly accepting the punishment of say $2,000 per employee rather than offer far more expensive benefits.

“They will lose their coverage and have it substituted for some other coverage … Their doctor availability or doctor of choice may change,’’ he said.

Atlas said surveys reveal doctors are negative about Obamacare and how it will impact patient-physician relationships and the availability of tests and treatments.

“Twenty percent of doctors already do not accept new Medicare patients and that’s not counting the more than the third of doctors who do not accept new Medicaid patients,’’ Atlas said.

“So Obamacare can talk all it wants … about adding insurance to people who are uninsured. If you give someone insurance that is not accepted by doctors and hospitals what have you given them?

Atlas fears this will lead to “what I call the dumbing down of the medical system in the United States.’’

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