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Member Questions of the Week of June 28, 2010

D. Andy Buffington of Haslet, TX asks: “What are the top 10 issues that private pay physicians — as we know them today — will have to deal with as the Obamacare bill is implemented?”
OUR ANSWER: Heritage experts wrote a series of Web memos to address Obamacare’s impact on various segments of the population. One of those papers specifically addresses Obamacare’s impact on doctors. Check it out for an in-depth answer to your question. As the paper makes clear, “No class of American professionals will be more negatively impacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act than physicians.” A few doctors might be able to sustain their practices with patients who can afford to pay for their medical care outright, but most private pay physicians will have to accept some government-funded patients (as they do already). Unfortunately, that means they’ll be underpaid. Presently, physicians in Medicare are paid 81 percent of private payment, and physicians in Medicaid are paid 56 percent of private payment. Obamacare does not substantially change the general pattern of the government’s systems of physician payment, but it does expand their reach — and adds new regulatory restrictions. The bill also creates numerous new federal agencies, boards, and commissions that will directly affect doctors. It’s no wonder, then, that, according to a recent survey of physicians conducted by Athena Health and Sermo, 79 percent of physicians are less optimistic about the future of medicine.

Emma Brown of White Bluff, TN asks: “What are the most damaging parts of the financial overhaul bill that just came out of (conference)?”
OUR ANSWER: The financial reform bill, as it stands now, would create a 10-member Financial Services Oversight Council that “would have wide powers to determine which financial institutions must meet tougher regulations and … to break up large financial firms if they pose a grave threat,” according to a June 25 AP article. The bill also creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As we’ve written in the past, such a bureau is not only not ideal — it could also be harmful. According to Heritage expert David John, “A new Consumer Financial Protection Agency … would raise costs for consumers, reduce the number and type of products available to them, increase the micro-management of financial services firms, and greatly increase the confusion caused by differing and conflicting consumer laws in the different states.” But, the bill doesn’t stop with a CFPA. It also addresses capital standards, derivatives, bank restrictions, executive pay, ratings agencies, and mortgage loans — in some cases, to detrimental effect. To read more, check out these highlights from our research on financial markets.

Bernard Huizenga of Palmyra, WI asks: “Please provide the basis for saying that the governmental spending by the FDR administration prolonged the Great Depression, which was only ended by the onset of WWII. Why is massive stimulus the wrong way to bring the nation out of recession/depression?”
OUR ANSWER: Even FDR’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr., eventually acknowledged spending is not the way to recover from a recession. “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work …” Morgenthau said in a speech to the House Ways and Means Committee in 1939. “[A]fter eight years of this Administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot!” As Heritage expert Bill Beach and Heritage fellow Ken McIntyre put it in this Human Events article, it’s time to “Get Over It” because the “New Deal Didn’t Do the Job.” Sadly, so far, neither have the massive stimulus bills. Obama’s first $862 billion stimulus bill, for example, was supposed to create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. Instead, millions of Americans lost their jobs, according to this Heritage factsheet. Heritage has literally hundreds of products to demonstrate this simple truth: New taxes and more regulation — part and parcel of any stimulus bill — only threaten businesses, which creates great uncertainty over rising costs for entrepreneurs who want to hire workers or create new enterprises. But, better options than stimulus bills exist, including — yep, you guessed it — lower taxes. “Washington can encourage growth by cutting spending so it can further lower taxes in a way that will actually encourage economic growth and spur job creation,” according to the factsheet.

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