15 Feb Your State Senator May Soon Be Your Primary Care Physician: Retirement Boomers Alert
Retirement boomers beware. Congress is at it again, and this time their target is the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The economic stimulus bill passed by Congress, named H.R. 1 – the bill number reserved for the piece of legislation deemed a number one priority in the House by the Speaker – quietly highlights several specific changes that will dramatically affect retirement boomers and members of the population with typical elderly problems. Although not eligible for Medicare for a minimum of two years, the baby boomer generation will be unfortunate enough to fall under the new health and human services health plan initiative that will tie the federal government to every patient nationwide.
At greatest risk for bureaucratic dappling in the healthcare business are those with particular elderly problems, which will eventually include retirement boomers. Our friends on Capitol Hill have agreed through the approval of the President’s economic stimulus bill that federal oversight of healthcare, most notably Medicare, is the right choice for all citizens. Of primary attention for boomers in the 2009 economic stimulus bill is the electronic Health Information Technology (HIT) portion that supports the creation of electronic health records for all healthcare patients to minimize duplicate testing and reduce or eliminate errors. Both healthy retirement boomers and those retirees with elderly problems are affected by the bill’s construction. Nestled among the text regarding the efficiency of the new and improved healthcare system is the proposition of a “National Coordinator” who will essentially be the national health czar.
The proposed system will manage the national healthcare organizations. Although that seems rather insignificant on the surface, a full one-third of the nation’s healthcare is regulated by the federal government (Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Administration, et. al). And how can this affect those with elderly problems? Physicians will be paid incentives for the “adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology (511).” The earlier a physician adopts the practices recommended by the National Coordinator and respective offices, the greater the incentive. Essentially, your doctor can be bought for a price by Uncle Sam.
So what does this mean to boomers in general? The bill itself is riddled with comment after comment regarding the “National Coordinator.” The head of the Department of Health and Human Services will preside over the nation’s health care system, likely imposing his ideas of reasonable care, rates, and procedures on those who are least able to tolerate what feels like a socialized approach to healthcare. Fortunately for the baby boomer generation, Senator Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for the prestigious post. Daschle’s opinions regarding healthcare and his opinions regarding federal healthcare administration are a red flag for anyone assuming private healthcare is exempt from federal influence. The bill gives the department authorization to review previous uses and impose “more stringent measures (541)” if deemed necessary. What could eventually result is a reduction or removal of certain tax benefits for those who choose to opt-out of compliance.
Retirement boomers and Medicare patients with significant elderly problems need to know that the new electronic HIT program plans to “improve(s) the coordination of care and information among hospitals, laboratories, physician offices, and other entities through an effective infrastructure for the secure and authorized exchange of health care information (442).” What exactly are these “other entities” and who is behind the “authorized exchange” many retirement boomers will be asking. According to the bill, seemingly every action taken by hospitals and physicians will be funneled through the Secretary of Health and Human Services: “to the satisfaction of the Secretary (498, 517, 540, 568).” Rather than reducing problems within the healthcare system, the stimulus bill will essentially increase them, but not for the federal government. It is the patient who will ultimately suffer.
How do you feel about the President’s economic stimulus bill? How do think you and your loved ones will be affected? Let us know at BoomerYearbook.com.
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