No One Knows What Goes On Behind Closed Doors —

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Or do they?  You know politicians like to talk – a lot. And those who work with them seem to always be jockeying for position and/or attention. So, if you just get people to talking, you’re bound to find out something that “the powers that be” wouldn’t want you to know.

The Obama Administration has claimed the endorsement of the AMA for Obama’s healthcare reform, but as many physicians will tell you, most practicing physicians are not members of the AMA.  Do you remember the staged doctors’ meeting in the Rose Garden at the White House?  Where the hundred or so doctors were given white lab coats to wear so they would “look” like doctors?  Nice photo op – except the there weren’t any hospital or practice logos or names embroidered on them and the unfortunate pictures of staff handing out lab coats didn’t lend any credibility to the effect, either.   If one was so inclined, they could assume (as seen from the back anyway) that these may have been lab techs — or butchers from local grocery stores!  Apparently that gathering wasn’t an accurate representation of a wide-ranging support of physicians for Obamacare. 

As you know, the Senate elite plus Rahm Emanuel have been holed up behind closed doors  – and EVERYONE knows this is in direct opposition to the promise of total transparency Candidate Obama promised (everything would be on CSPAN – indeed!) –  trying to hammer out a Senate healthcare bill that will be acceptable to the wary moderates in the Senate.  On Day Seven of the closed door sessions, the White House and the Senate leaders came up with this brilliant idea of ordering Congress to pass a $247 billion bill (S1776) as a payoff to doctors to try and gain their support for this comprehensive healthcare reform. 

In regards to the “Secret Bill”, as reported by The Hill, “The White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal:  They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctor’s support of health care reform.”  The $247 billion “Doc Fix” bill totally excluded any public debate, or for that matter, any public knowledge.  This “secret” bill was designed to get a large block of physician support – only it didn’t work as planned and Harry Reid blames the AMA, though not by name.   (Apparently the AMA lobbyists were supposed to “deliver” about two dozen Republican votes for this bill, but that didn’t materialize even though some Republican Senators have supported short-term freezes to Medicare cuts in the past.)

Physicians have been forced to take cuts in medicare payments for quite some time and now a promised half-trillion dollars more in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next ten years.  The only place that cuts can come from is from the payout to doctors who are treating Medicare and Medicaid recipients.  However, I would imagine that the doctors would much rather see the Medicare/Medicaid payment structure be a part of the reform and not be the “backbone” of how Obama/Pelosi/Reid plan to pay for their healthcare system. 

Anyway, this week the Senate used cloture to bring the “Doc Fix” Bill S1776 to a vote, but it failed 47 to 53.  So, it looks to me like perhaps our lawmakers are aware that the public has become more enlightened about what is going on in Washington and ordinary citizens have become focused on their legislative activities. Perhaps this closer scrutiny and the sharing of information between people and groups are making lawmakers squirm a bit when it comes to ramming something like this “Doc Fix” bill through without much semblance of debate or use of “legal trickery” to move a bill through quickly…. afterall, it is their political futures that are on the line!