Constitutional Health Network:
Big Government is Practicing Medicine Without a License
When the Affordable Care Act was first proposed, I said that it wasn't just a first step but a flying leap down a slippery slope. I warned that forcing us to buy health insurance whether we wanted it or not (for our own good, of course) was just the opening salvo in a war on our rights. If we could be forced to buy health insurance, I asked, what else would we be forced to buy later? 
 
The "it's for your own good" argument can be used in an unlimited number of situations. I predicted that at some point it will be a question of, "have X procedure or take X drug, or lose your insurance" with X being whatever the flavor of the week is. Or "buy a gym membership and go to the gym X times per month or pay a fine." The Act gave Big Insurance and the IRS a direct line into our wallets. Forcing us to have the current "recommended" tests and treatments for whatever conditions we have or face a penalty seemed like the next logical step. 
 
People scoffed at the idea. They told me it would never happen. But having already watched too many personal choices be taken out of our hands and put into the hands of government because it's "for our own good," I couldn't imagine that our fearless leaders wouldn't cash in on the opportunity. 
 
Of course they will. It's already happening. It's happening slowly, quietly, but it's happening. All over the country, "trial runs" of policies mandating us to have certain tests or face penalties are underway. 
 
For example: insurance giant Aetna has rolled out a "workplace wellness" program that makes my blood run cold. Among other things, it requires employees to give a sample of their DNA. The company says it's voluntary. But employees who don't "voluntarily" give up a DNA sample can be fined up to $2000 per year. Why are they being forced to submit to something so invasive? To test their risk for "metabolic syndrome." Of course anyone deemed "at risk" will have to complete a program to address the problem. 
 
This nothing but practicing medicine without a license. 

Who's really calling the shots? Your doctor, your insurance company, or…your state legislature?

Big Insurance has always practiced medicine without a license. They tell doctors what treatments they're allowed to do, and deny payment for things they deem unnecessary — even if your doctor disagrees. They send letters to doctors saying, "Patient John Doe has high blood pressure. Why isn't he on medication? Get him on a drug or we're not paying." Or "We want you to start screening every patient for cancer starting this month and we're going to penalize you if you don't." 
 
A colleague actually got a letter from an insurer last month saying:
 
We want you to screen our members for cancer. Please do the following:
  • Contact the member to discuss colorectal, skin, and prostate cancer screening.
  • Refer the member for colonoscopy, or schedule an appointment for skin and prostate cancer screening.
  • Flag each member's chart with a reminder to discuss cancer screening at his or her next appointment.
 
This was accompanied by several pages of patient names. The insurance company is deciding which of my colleague's patients should have expensive and invasive tests they may or may not need. He's wondering why he spent half his life becoming a doctor if a bureaucrat can do his job. 
 
Big Government, too, has hung out a shingle and set up practice. From requiring flu shots for healthcare workers to mandating invasive tests in certain situations, state legislatures have donned the white coat and picked up the prescription pad. Several states have laws making it illegal for your doctor to tell you you've been exposed to toxic chemicals from "fracking" — or to discuss your own treatment with you if you have. New York forces doctors to discuss "end-of-life options" to all terminally ill patients, whether they think it's appropriate or not. 
 
The list is long. But the worst is yet to come. An often-overlooked clause in the so-called Affordable Care Act gives government bureaucrats a free pass to practice medicine without a license. In fact, it allows Big Government to dictate to your doctor exactly how he can practice medicine. 

If your doctor accepts insurance, he's at the mercy of Big Government now

Section 1311(h)(1)(b) of the Affordable Care Act, buried deep in the multi-thousand-page bill, gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services complete power over all doctors who accept insurance. How? It says that insurers can only contract with doctors who "implement such mechanisms to improve healthcare quality as the Secretary may by regulation require." 
 
That's a dense bit of government-speak. Put simply, what it says is this: the Secretary can make whatever rules he or she wants in order to "improve health care quality." Insurance companies can only work with doctors who follow these rules. 
 
Now, the Secretary of HHS is an appointed position. This person is not elected by we the people, nor is he or she required to be a doctor. Or even a nurse. This person is not required to have any medical knowledge whatsoever. 
 
But this person gets to make the rules for doctors who do. 
 
HHS currently has some 225 different guidelines for everything from doing an MRI to detect Alzheimer's to when to use heart bypass surgery or how to treat a sinus infection. They come from every professional organization under the sun — the AMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, etc. Many are conflicting. 
 
Any one of them could become the new standard that every doctor must adhere to if he wants to accept insurance. Or, the current Secretary could create a new "guideline" out of thin air. It would still govern practices across the country. 
 
He or she could decide that every person should be "screened" for obesity three times per year and put on a weight-loss drug if they're 10 pounds overweight. Or that doctors must prescribe the newest, most expensive diabetes drug on the market before trying anything else. He or she might dictate that all children be put on cholesterol drugs after age 4 as a "preventative measure." Or that hip replacements only be offered to people between 45 and 60. 
 
The possibilities are literally endless. This little clause gives unlimited power over the practice of medicine to someone with no medical knowledge. It takes power out of the hands of those it belongs in — yours and your doctor's — and puts it exactly where it doesn't belong. With Big Government and Big Insurance. 
 
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