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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Friday, December 13, 2013

10 takeaways from Darrell Issa's latest Obamacare oversight hearing -- By Susan Crabtree, The Washington Examiner

Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held another hearing on the impact of Obamacare, this time scrutinizing reports that the health care law is driving up insurance costs and leading to fewer doctor choices for consumers.

The Washington Examiner listened to the 3 hours of detailed and often contentious questioning so you wouldn't have to. Here are 10 takeaways:

Doctors' stories

1. Dr. Jeffrey English, a neurologist at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Atlanta, testified that his MS patients will suffer because of the law's unintended consequences. He said the Affordable Care Act punishes doctors like himself who serve the most vulnerable patients because he recommends too many MRIs, brain-Image scans and costly medicines compared to his peers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he said, had placed him into the same pool as other general neurologists and even orthopedic surgeons without taking into account that he specializes in extreme MS cases. Because of this, he said, CMS has warned him that he will have a lower rating on its website, which will include data that he “overused MRIs.” For this same reason, United Healthcare recently downgraded him to “non-preferred” status.

“In reward for my passions to prevent real people from becoming disabled, CMS and insurance companies like United Healthcare are going to post negative grades in my name,” he said. “They will financially penalize me or the institution I work for, as I am trying to practice quality care to some of our most vulnerable patients.”

2. English also testified that in Georgia, the state Obamacare insurance exchanges are limiting the pool of doctors and specialists that patients can see and are only providing coverage for four out of the 10 therapies he usually recommends for MS patients.

“Patients like my previously-paralyzed schoolteacher are afraid that the medication that has kept them functioning may be taken away, leading to disability,” he said.

3. Dr. Patricia McLaughlin, an ophthalmologist in solo practice in New York City, testified that insurers are responding to Obamacare by announcing the creation of new limited networks and some plans that will offer only in-network benefits, excluding all out-of-network doctors.

She said these more restrictive networks are impacting plans serving small business groups, including her own, as well as plans offered to individuals on various state exchanges and healthcare.gov. She recalled receiving a cancellation of her health care plan a few months ago and said the new plan had a $500 higher deductible and slightly higher premiums. But the biggest change she discovered so far is the new plan's far more limited network of participating physicians.

On top of those disappointments, she received a notice in November that she had been bumped from the plan as a participating physician with no given reason. She said she and her two employees soon found that they would lose their primary-care physician unless they chose to see him through a completely non-covered private arrangement.

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