While admitting he is not a fan of the Obama administrations health overhaul, Michael Tanner, a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute, assured a Charlotte audience Tuesday that the law will not ration health care.
With all due respect to (former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin), there is no death panel, said Tanner, who spoke to more than 400 business leaders and health-care providers at a forum sponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger.
Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, once called an advisory panel created by the Affordable Care Act a death panel.
The law prohibits that board from making recommendations to ration care, reduce benefits or change eligibility requirements.
Whats left? Tanner asked. To cut back what we can pay doctors and hospitals. Some physicians are going to drop out of the program.
In an hour-long talk, Tanner described complex details of the 2,400-page law that requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay fines, mandates businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for workers or pay fines, and offers federal tax credits to make insurance more affordable through state or federal health exchanges.
Tanner, who has criticized Obamacare as a mess, outlined the multiple new taxes it levies, the fines that individuals and small businesses will face, and the skyrocketing premiums predicted in the future.
Pittenger pushed for repeal of the Affordable Care Act during his campaign last fall, saying it didnt do enough to reduce health care costs, increase competition, reduce unnecessary procedures and improve patient outcomes.
But in his opening remarks Tuesday, he said: It is the law of the land. And we would do well to know what its about. Were not here to debate today.
Other sponsors of the forum included Carolinas HealthCare System and Presbyterian Hospital, whose officials share worries about cutbacks in Medicare reimbursement even though they stand to benefit from fewer unpaid bills when millions more Americans are covered by health insurance.
Doug Dickerson, state director of AARP North Carolina, delivered a counterpoint to Tanners talk, emphasizing improvements in benefits mandated by the new law, such as prohibiting insurance companies from refusing to cover children with pre-existing medical conditions. That prohibition will expand to adults in 2014.
As long as you pay your premiums, they cannot drop you if you get sick, Dickerson said. This is giving you peace of mind that your insurance benefits wont run out when you need them most.
While acknowledging the popularity of the provision on pre-existing conditions, Tanner said it forces companies to sell insurance to people who are already sick. He compared that to calling an insurance company for coverage after youve run your car into a tree.
In addition, he said, the law sets limits on how much companies can charge for people who are older and sicker. That will lead to much higher premiums for others. If youre young and healthy, youre in trouble, he said.
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