- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2012

With the debate about the constitutionality of Obamacare on full display in front of the Supreme Court, the unintended consequences of this overreaching law have often taken a back seat to the constitutional questions. Never before in our nation’s history has the federal government advocated for the power to compel Americans to purchase products. If this power is upheld, the federal government would be able to dictate purchases and distort a free market that has been the source of our economic strength. While we have serious reservations about the constitutionality of the individual mandate, we are also concerned by the problems it creates in providing access to quality care.

If the goal was affordable care and access for all, this law fails miserably.

First, the law created a 15-member panel of unelected bureaucrats to make health care decisions based on costs. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is nothing short of a backdoor approach to a European-style system that will ultimately lead to the rationing of care based on the patient’s age or health. The last thing a patient needs is the federal government having a seat in the exam room. This board will cut services and treatments that are necessary for seniors. Not only will services be eliminated, but it will force many providers to exit the market altogether. Already, one in three primary care providers are limiting new Medicare patients and one in eight are rejecting them outright. The IPAB will make these startling statistics, provided by the American Medical Association, grow to a point where finding a Medicare provider will be extremely difficult. We were proud to lead the charge in eliminating this unaccountable group with a vote in the U.S. House last week.

Second, the goal of providing 30 million uninsured Americans with coverage will be a difficult challenge. In a report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on March 15, CBO estimated that as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored coverage as a result of Obamacare. Many of these individuals will be forced to participate in the heavily subsidized state exchanges or, most likely, end up on Medicaid. Adding millions of Americans to Medicaid will cause funds to be depleted sooner, leaving patients with coverage but without physicians to give needed medical care.

Instead of protecting the doctor-patient relationship, Washington Democrats are increasing waiting times for frail patients by overcrowding Medicaid rolls and forcing Americans to purchase expensive Washington-mandated coverage. Arbitrary provider payment cuts will worsen our provider shortage, preventing some patients from having regular access to a physician they know and trust. Costs will increase as more Medicaid patients fill hospital emergency rooms to avoid scheduling delays.

These problems could have been avoided, but Washington liberals cared more about increasing coverage numbers on paper than lowering health costs and improving access to care for America’s seniors.

Rep. Larry Bucshon is an Indiana Republican. Rep. Charles Boustany is a Louisiana Republican and chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is a Tennessee Republican. All three are physicians.