Texas doctors try to shove Obamacare off a cliff

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Two Texas physicians are trying to spark a doctor-led, coast-to-coast push against Obamacare’s takeover of the doctor-patient relationship.

Their initial, self-funded TV ad shows an actor, portraying President Barack Obama, throwing a frightened grandmother over a cliff.

The grandmother say she wants a pacemaker to save her life, but Obama’s voice announces that “maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer.”

Obama made that comment at a White House event in 2009, while talking about a 100-year-old woman who got a pacemaker that kept her alive for five years.

“We wanted to give him credit … in his own words,” said Dr. Kristin Held, an ophthalmologist in San Antonio, Texas, and a co-founder of AmericanDoctors4Truth, which favors a more free-market medical system.

The ads are running in Texas and in Virginia, but they’re also prompting other doctors to donate funds for broadcasts in other states, she said: “We’re getting it from individual doctors — [they’re saying], ‘Take $5,000, take $10,000, take $20.'”

Future ads will use other quotes from Obama and will show doctors saving grandmothers from Obama’s health care policies, she told The Daily Caller.

“We will not let her go — the doctors will stop and save granny.” (RELATED: Full coverage of the health reform law)

But the hard-edged theme was also chosen because it uses dark humor to highlight a serious subject, Held explained. “Where the Republicans fail miserably — miserably — is that they will not take this on in 2012 in a way that 2012-people can relate to.”

The theme was copied from an earlier Democratic-funded ad that portrayed GOP budget-maven Rep. Paul Ryan throwing an old woman over a cliff. “That ad was misleading,” Held asserted. “If anyone was throwing granny off the cliff, it was the Affordable Care Act.”

Under the Obamacare takeover, appointed officials will decide reimbursement rates for medical procedures, and doctors are already being pressured to sell their practices to health-conglomerates, Held said.

In the future, a “government appointee will be deciding who gets care … patients and doctors will no longer be making decisions about treatment.”

The House GOP has taken up that cause, and on March 22 passed legislation abolishing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

The board was intended by Obama to shrivel payments to doctors with Medicare patients. The Democrat-dominated Senate will likely oppose its elimination.

Once the IPAB starts curbing Medicare payments from 2014 onwards, fewer doctors will take Medicare patients, creating a disguised rationing system for older Americans, Avik Roy, a medical expert at the free-market Manhattan Institute, told TheDC.

Obama’s attitude adds personal insults to doctors’ financial injury, Held said, because he has repeatedly portrayed doctors as mercenaries.

“If … your child has a bad sore throat, or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out,’” Obama said in July 2009.

“We spent our lives trying to heal… [and] when he says that, that hit me at my primal core,” Held stated.

However, Helds’ advocacy task is difficult because few doctors understand the impact of the Obamacare legislation, Roy said.

Doctors, he continued, have earned a lot of revenue from Medicare, and so they’ll easily recognize the threat posed by the IPAB.

But few, he added, recognize that government-regulated healthcare will reduce their autonomy.

“If you want to have less interference in the way you practice medicine — either from government or insurers — you need to support consumer-driven health care” rules, such as health savings accounts, even if that also cuts current payments, Roy concluded.


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Neil Munro