September 6, 2022

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act achieves a new, unenviable level of deception.

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It increases inflation rather than reduces it. The bill is primarily a further expansion of Washington’s regulatory control of healthcare. 

With aid of a complicit mainstream media, progressive Democrats conflate regulation with (medical) care. They assert government is responsible to make and keep people healthy, even if that means taking away individual freedom. Biden’s COViD vaccine mandates are a prime example.

When President Ronald Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” he could have been referring to federal regulation – control by rules – of healthcare. Past experience proves that when federal regulations increase, access to medical care decreases. They interact like a see-saw (Figure 1): as one goes up, the other goes down.

Regulations hurt Americans three ways. (1) They steal resources – money and time – needed for care. (2) They produce low-quality medical outcomes, even death. (3) Regulations are tyranny.

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Regulations steal resources

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act expands Washington’s regulatory control over: Medicaid eligibility, Medicare cost-sharing and premium growth, pharmaceutical rebates and drug prices. Medicare will “negotiate” drug payments with pharmaceutical distributors. Such negotiation brings to mind a soldier with a rifle negotiating with a hellfire missile.

The regulatory burden takes away patients’ time with doctors. Patients often complain, “The doctor didn’t even look at me. She (or he) spent most of our time staring at a computer screen, filling out forms.” There are billing forms, HIPAA compliance forms, hospital efficiency forms, and a host of other time-consuming nonclinical requirements that leave no time to talk with, examine, or simply think about a patient. In the past, writing a prescription took less than a minute. With mandatory electronic prescribing, it now takes ten minutes or more.

As regulations increase, so does BARRCO: bureaucracy, administration, rules, regulations, compliance, and oversight.  

From 1970 to 2010, the number of U.S. physicians increased 150 percent. Over the same forty years, the number of healthcare regulators (bureaucrats) increased more than 3,200 percent. Furthermore, that 3,200 percent increase occurred before the Affordable Care Act (ACA, March 23, 2010), which added thousands more regulations and regulators.

To pay for each regulatory expansion required hundreds of billions of dollars taken from payments to physicians, viz., $716 billion taken from Medicare providers to pay ACA bureaucrats.  

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Medicare is touted to be a model healthcare system, so successful Democrats want to expand it to all Americans per H.R. 1384, a Medicare-for-All bill that would limit access to care even more. Regarding Medicare’s vaunted success, the Trustees report the program will be insolvent by 2026 at which time seniors will be denied payment for hospital care.

In 2021, the U.S. expended $4 trillion on its healthcare system. Between 31 percent and 50 percent went to pay for BARRCO. In other words, between $1.2 trillion and $2 trillion was stolen from patient care.  

On the family level, the cost of healthcare BARRCO is more than “challenging,” it is prohibitive. In 2021, the average American family expended $28,256 – 35 percent of median total family income – on healthcare costs: insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Eighty-three percent went to insurance companies and federal regulatory compliance.

As regulations and regulators increase, less money is available for providers. This directly decreases access to care.

Regulations produce bad medical outcomes

Government-supplied health insurance produces inferior, in fact substandard, medical outcomes.

Medicaid enrollees with hepatitis C had higher mortality than other patients because government programs do not provide all the necessary life-saving drugs. Mortality from cancer was higher for government-insured individuals. Surgical outcomes were worse in Medicaid patients than even the uninsured. The greater the federal regulatory control, the poorer Americans do health-wise.

Over the years, the number of physicians willing to accept Medicaid insurance has declined. As fewer physicians accept Medicaid enrollees, access to care declines. Lawyers say, justice delayed is justice denied. For physicians, care delayed means death-by-queueing.

A queue is the British term for people waiting in line. Death-by-queueing refers to people waiting for technically possible care that is not available in time to save lives. Identified initially in the British single payer system, death-by-queueing occurs in the U.S.

President Obama’s ACA further expanded the regulatory burden and produced an increase in maximum average wait time to see a primary care physician: 122 days. That’s more than four months to discover whether your belly pain is gas, an ulcer, or pancreatic cancer.

In Illinois, 752 Medicaid enrollees died waiting in line for care. For our veterans, things are even worse. According to an internal VA audit, “47,000 veterans may have died waiting for care.”

As Washington passes more regulations, more Americans die waiting for care.

Expanding federal regulations does something even worse than kill Americans – it kills freedom.

Regulations take away freedom

Progressive Democrats accept, as an article of faith, that they know better than the “deplorables.” For progressives, freedom means the right of the people to choose poorly. Thus, Washington must control healthcare (and everything else) to make the best choices for the people, better than they can decide for themselves.   

To regulate means to control by rules. Washington controls Americans by Biden’s mandates, Birx’ coercive advisories, and Walensky’s cooked CDC data.

Democrats promised their mandates and regulations would stop CoViD “within a few weeks,” and before that, ACA regulations would “give Americans all the care they deserve” (Obama, 2009). All we had to do was yield our freedom, our right to choose, to progressive Washington.

We wore face masks to show our obedience to CoViD czar Anthony Fauci. Washington closed our businesses making Americans dependent on the federal government. Two thirds of our population had to take a mandated but untested, unproven, unsafe mRNA “jab,” allowing progressives to turn Americans into unwilling, unwitting experimental study subjects.

Regulations did not solve our healthcare problems. They made them worse.

Regulations do not make our lives better – they take away our most precious possession, freedom. 

Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Decision Science; former Director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of the multi-award-winning book Curing the Cancer in U.S. HealthcareStatesCare and Market-Based Medicine

Graphics by Dr. Deane Waldman.