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Hillary-Care, the Sequel

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.


Choice. Abortion advocates have been reciting this mantra for decades. Yet it seems when it comes to health care, personal choice is not a component worthy of protection. Hillary Clinton's now discredited health care task force aggressively sought to eliminate for all Americans the option to choose a physician. Although she previously failed, her new attack on our health care system has commenced. As of January 1, 1998, seniors were selected as the first group of citizens to have decisions regarding the delivery of health care determined for them by federal dictators.

Despite rejection of the idea by the public three years ago, the President is reconstructing Hillary's socialized health care program in neat little incremental pieces. Buried in the hundreds of pages of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, President Clinton inserted a two-page amendment, Section 4507, that restricts the amount that doctors who treat Medicare participants can be paid and limits the medication that seniors may receive. Payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients are preordained and subject to approval of governmental bureaucrats. If either the patient or doctor believe that additional treatment or tests are necessary, the patient is prohibited from paying the doctor out of his or her own pocket to obtain the needed treatment.

The doctor is not allowed to take any money from the patient unless he or she signs a sworn statement not to treat any Medicare patients for the following two years. To insure compliance, a physician who violates this section of the law is subject to prosecution. So the only doctors who will be allowed to accept money from seniors are those who agree to "opt out" of the program for two years. Since this scenario is highly unlikely, health care decisions will effectively be removed from both the physician and the patient and placed in the hands of the government.

No longer will a person be allowed to directly compensate a family doctor for a recommended diagnostic test. Gone are the days when direct payment can be arranged for an extra office visit desired by an aging parent. After an individual has worked throughout life and the government has proceeded to tax, dilute and retax earnings, one would assume any decisions on how, when and where to disburse the remaining assets would be within the strict purview of the individual. Have we really come to the point when government is going to dictate how we can spend our own money?

Apparently the Clinton Administration believes that government alone knows what is best when it comes to the purchase of health care. Opting out of the increasingly austere Medicare system in any way, shape or form cannot be tolerated. It would appear that the radical egalitarianism displayed in the first lady's health care program demands that medical services for all Americans be rendered at the exact same mediocre level.

The relationship between a physician and a patient is traditionally one where an expectation of privacy is protected by law. This is reflected in the law of evidence where a physician may not testify concerning the medical treatment of his or her patient. In fact, the freedom to care for one's health and decide matters concerning personal treatment is often used by supporters of abortion and assisted suicide. It seems as if our leaders in Washington, D.C. only invoke Constitutional rights when the interests in question match their ideology.

According to these central planners, failing to give retirees the same freedom other Americans have to arrange personal payment with their doctors is an acceptable first step in their master plan. Evidently, one senior citizens group has already taken action to reclaim their rights. They have asked a federal judge to block the pertinent section of the law. The United Seniors Association sued Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, asking the U.S. District Court to block enforcement of the new rules.

This lawsuit is a good sign. It shows that some Americans still understand and believe that when personal liberty is relinquished to an insatiable government, it will not stop until it has devoured even the leftovers of freedom.


Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

All Rights Reserved