Politics

Doctor: GOP Health Care Bill Will Lead to Government Takeover

Prominent cardiologist predicts Obamacare fix will pave way for single-payer, fail to reduce costs

The Obamacare repeal package being pushed by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives will eventually lead to a full government takeover of the health care system, a prominent Washington cardiologist predicted Thursday.

Dr. Ramin Oskoui, who also is LifeZette’s health adviser, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” the Obamacare replacement bill that the House is set to vote on Thursday is fundamentally flawed and will not reduce health care costs.

“They need to go back and start from scratch. We’re on our way to single payer, which will be also incredibly inefficient. We’ve seen what happens at the VA.”

“They need to go back and start from scratch,” he said. “We’re on our way to single payer, which will be also incredibly inefficient. We’ve seen what happens at the VA.”

The Republican-sponsored effort to replace the Affordable Care Act would reform the Medicaid program and substitute age-based tax credits with the income-based subsidies in the current law. It would keep the regulations that critics contend drive up the cost of health care but allow states to opt out of some of those rules if they can meet certain conditions.

Oskoui said those regulations will continue to raise the cost of health care, as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office — at least in the short run.

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“The CBO is often off the mark but always in the same direction,” he said. “They underestimate costs, and they overestimate revenue.”

Oskoui said the bill needs to design a health system that fosters non-government, market-based reforms. Reforms could include allowing more drugs to be sold over the counter and removing regulations from specialty hospitals, he said.

“We’ve got to tear down these regulations that really impede care being provided but, more important, cost us a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “We’ve fundamentally got to start treating health care [insurance] like auto care and use it only for catastrophic and extraordinary means.”

Oskoui said the bill does nothing to reform malpractice abuse, does not allow insurance policies to be sold across state lines, and does not address drug price inflation.

Oskoui rejected the contention of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that the regulations cannot be included in this bill because the legislation must be tied to spending in order avoid the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. He said Ryan never consulted the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, to determine how much wiggle room lawmakers had on that rule.

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“Even if she had said there is no wiggle room here, which he never asked to find out, both he and Vice President [Mike] Pence can overrule them and push this through,” he said. “This is a pretend obstacle.”

Oskoui said the Republican bill also will be costlier because of an 11th-hour concession to moderates to spend billions of dollars on high-risk pools to help people with pre-existing conditions. Before Obamacare, most of those state-run programs were collapsing, and the new law took on that responsibility. Oskoui noted that the original repeal bill would have divested the federal government of that responsibility.

“Unfortunately, you’ve got a moderate group of, you know, fairly liberal Republicans who don’t want that giveaway to go away,” he said.

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