Doctor Issues Call To Stop
by Marcia Merry Baker
Oct. 28—On Oct. 24, Dr. Mark Shelley, a general practitioner, held a press conference at his office in rural northern Pennsylvania, to issue a call, "Doctors Against Murderous Obamacare." He identified Obamacare as the culmination of a decades-long process of degradation of the U.S. medical system, which has worsened as the economy declined. A "dictatorship of money" has arisen, serving Wall Street, not the good of the population. Doctors have been forced to "adjust" to the money system, to the point of violating their Hippocratic Oath.
When asked by a local reporter, "Why do this now?" Dr. Shelley said, "Because I can't be everywhere" at the same time, to "see that my patients don't die." He gave examples from cases in his own practice of what he meant by this: It is now common experience for a sick individual to be judged by the system (at an emergency room, a nursing home, a hospital, clinic, or elsewhere) as not "worthy" of treatment—too old, already chronically ill, impaired, a coerced and generalized DNR (do not resuscitate order), and so on. Shelley has found himself repeatedly forced to intervene.
Dr. Shelley likened today's situation, to what was warned about by Dr. Leo Alexander, the American physician who was chief consultant to the Nuremberg Tribunal on Crimes Against Humanity. Shelley quoted from an article by Alexander ("Medical Science Under Dictatorship," 1949) to underscore his own warning about medical practice and Obamacare today. It is totally wrong to assess the "utility value" of a human being, as a condition for their care. He said that we may not yet have outright "killing centers" in the United States, but we have a "killing policy" in effect.
The doctor specifies in his statement, what actions to take, calling for restoring the "essence of the Hippocratic Oath"; for re-instating the Glass-Steagall Act, to end Wall Street's money dictatorship; and for impeachment proceedings to start against President Obama.
Dr. Shelley calls on doctors, and health professionals of all kinds—nurses, technicians, social workers, health facilities' staff, etc.—to speak out. He is making himself available for radio interviews, and urging others, especially medical professionals, to contact him (through stevekommµail.com). Within hours of its availability, his call was circulated widely, as nurses and other activists sent it out to medical networks in many states, and also to Congressmen's offices.
His full statement, and the transcript of his Oct. 24 press conference, are included below, along with an article on the findings of Dr. Leo Alexander.
Leadership: Acting on Principle
Dr. Shelley's initiative comes at a moment of great potential for a policy shift in the United States. There is an uproar among the population against the mass joblessness, lack of means to food, hyperinflation, and especially against the pretense of Obamacare's promise of "accessibility" of health care for all, when no one can even sign up. The scandal of the Obamacare on-line insurance "marketplace" failure just adds fuel to the fire. Even if you can get a policy, your care will be cut. Your hospital will be gone.
But rather than merely sniping—as pro forma critics of Obamacare do with their "anti-big-government" rhetoric (serving Wall Street)—Shelley has acted on moral and economic principles. He puts forward the leading ideas which can succeed in breaking the Wall Street death grip over the economy and the U.S. medical system.
The legislative preconditions on Capitol Hill are already in place to do this. Eleven Senators and 76 members of the House have sponsored bills for reinstating Glass-Steagall. The House has repeatedly voted to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act (ACA).
Members of Congress are now lining up to take rearguard initiatives to "modify" the Obama Administration's murderous health-care actions, bit by bit. This may reflect a genuine response to the outcries of suffering constituents, but it is kowtowing to Wall Street.
Florida Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Clay Radel today introduced the "Delay Until Fully Functional Act," with eight other GOP Senators, moving with the backlash against the on-line ACA insurance debacle, but too cowardly to initiate impeachment of Obama and repeal of Obamacare.
On Oct. 29, the House Ways & Means Committee will hold hearings on the "Implementation of Obamacare," with witness Marilyn Tavenner, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator, and on Oct. 30, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. But, advance Committee releases indicate that members intend to shadow box with these Obamacare flunkies, rather than move to impeach their boss.
These attempted "fixes" of Obama health care won't work, given the pedigree and intent of the ACA (see Fact Sheet in Oct. 25 EIR).
On Oct. 23, CEOs from major U.S. health insurance companies (Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Wellpoint, et al.), and their national asssociation, America's Health Insurance Plans, met at the White House, to discuss their expectations of Obamacare. Regardless of the dysfunction of HealthCare.gov, they want no delay in receiving their loot. Look at the role of the largest of all, the UnitedHealth Group.
Simon Stevens: UnitedHealth Dumps Doctors
The intended beneficiaries of Obamacare are in Wall Street's insurance sector, which has been siphoning off profits from the income stream in U.S. health care for decades, beginning with the 1973 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Act.
Under Obamacare, the insurance mandate constitutes unpredecented flows to the Wall Street/London financial crowd. Dimensions of the matter are reported in Forbes, Oct. 1 (Robert Lenzer), noting that the "value of the S&P health insurance index has gained 43% this year alone." Among the major companies, Cigna is up 63%, Wellpoint 47%, and United Healthcare 28%. Since Obamacare passed in 2010, stock values of these firms have risen 200-300%.
UnitedHealthGroup USA (also UnitedHealthCare/UHC) is the biggest HMO in the U.S., with over 70 million insured. It is now in the headlines for its new insider contract to "fix" the broken healthcare.gov sign-up site, awarded to its subsidiary, QSSI, Inc. (Quality Software Systems, Inc.), which already was contracted for the syndicate which built the Obamacare Federal data hub.
UnitedHealth expanded to its dominant position, in particular, under the leadership of Simon Stevens, the British health operative under the Tony Blair government (1997-2007), who, in 1999, designed the original "death panel," the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)—the template for Obamacare's Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB)—telling hospitals and doctors in the British National Health System (NHS), founded in the 1940s, what treatments they are permitted to give, or deny, to which classes of patients. This was exactly the Hitler T-4 policy. Stevens also initiated privatization of key parts of the NHS, and other policies which resulted in downsizing and increased deaths.
In 2007, Stevens came to Minnesota, to the UnitedHealth Group USA, and in 2009, advised Team Obama on how to cut Medicare payments, in order to "save" $500 billion over 10 years. Stevens' specialty has been cutting care to seniors. UnitedHealth cadges Medicare clients, through a sweetheart deal with the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP)—for sharing of the UnitedHealth and AARP logos on its policies and advertising.
UnitedHealth and the other mega-insurers blatantly positioned their operations since 2010, to rake in huge profits from Obamacare: expecting more money from federally subsidized insurance payments; and that Obamacare will order health-care providers to take lowered payments.
On Oct. 24, it was announced that Stevens—his dirty work done here—will go back to London to head up the NHS.
UnitedHealth: Dumping Doctors
Within the past month, UnitedHealthcare began terminating contracts with 10-15% of its physicians who participate in the Medicare Advantage plans (privatized Medicare), according to a report of Oct. 25 by NJ.com. This is because UnitedHealth doesn't foresee enough money to be made as Obamacare kicks in for this category, whose care protocols are considered "unsustainable."
In Connecticut, UnitedHealth has terminated contracts with 2,200 physicians who served patients in MedicareAdvantage, effective in February 2014. In metro-New York, UHC is terminating contracts with 2,100 doctors, as it is across the country.
What does this look like in human terms? Here is testimony from a low-income woman in her early '60s, diagnosed with sickle beta thalessemia, who depends on regular treatment for survival:
"Last month, the day before my scheduled visit to an infusion nurse in the Boston Medical Center's Cancer Care Section of the Hematology/Oncology Clinic, the hospital phoned to inform me that they no longer had a contract with AARP Medicare Complete, insured through UnitedHealthCare.
"Hence, I could not receive my treatment there the next day. I've been treated there for the past 15 years.
"One of the physicians who cares for me assisted in helping me to get set up at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I was fortunate, but this physician told me that the infusion nurses in this section of the hospital are extremely upset because this drop [of coverage] now affects at least another 50-plus patients—many of whom are not able to delay their treatments, or go to another hospital with knowledge of their illnesses."
UnitedHealth is trying to delay notice to policyholders, to avoid public attention. Panic, particularly among elderly patients, is spreading.
The Medical Society of New Jersey reports that UHC hasn't yet informed its policyholders that their doctors won't be available after February 2014. Physicians' groups are trying to get the word out because Medicare's open enrollment ends Dec. 7. UHC said it won't inform customers until after the doctor-termination process "has run its course," but that could be after open enrollment ends, so that people won't have had the opportunity to find another doctor.
In New York State, there are 2.6 million elderly people who receive Medicare, but one in three—900,000—are enrolled in Advantage. One physician, Dr. Johnathan Liebowitz, who has 30 Medicare Advantage patients, told the New York Post that he was blindsided by UHC's decision to fire him. "A patient can't see his doctor? What are they doing?"
New York State Medical Society President Sam Unterricht has called for a Congressional probe of the extent of UHC's firings.
No Hospital, No Care
In 2013 so far, the health-care sector in the United States has had 41,085 job cuts, which is 13.4% up from 2012. The cuts in the third quarter this year were 25% higher than the same time last year, according to statistics published by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
These totals reflect the squeeze on health-care providers, as they try to "adjust" to the Obamacare onslaught of payment cuts. The large hospital chains are announcing layoffs, and shutdowns of hospitals, in their attempt to "downsize to profitability." Many smaller systems and individual hospitals, are cancelling whole programs, and seeking to be bought out, or closing out altogether. For example, look at recent announcements in the Midwest.
In Ohio, the internationally famed Cleveland Clinic System announced layoffs of over 3,000 employees.
In Indiana, the Franciscan Alliance 13-hospital system will cut 925 jobs; and seek a buyer for its two Illinois hospitals.
In Michigan, the McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital has begun to reduce staff hours, and eliminate selected jobs due to Federal funding cuts. Of the 1,800 workforce, up to half could see their full-time jobs cut back to part-time. A similar process is underway at Oaklawn Hospital, in Marshall.
Mary Jane Freeman and Cynthia Rush contributed research for this article.