Obamacare Regulations Stifle Innovative LASIK Eye Surgeon
Who is Dr. Craig Beyer?
Dr. Craig Beyer, a practicing ophthalmologist and LASIK eye surgeon, is an innovative physician who at one time thought President Obama might bring some good ideas to the table in D.C. and voted for Mr. Obama in 2008. Then reality set in; Dr. Beyer quickly saw how Obamacare was going to adversely affect his practice and medicine in America more generally. He didn’t make the same mistake in the 2012 election.
When Mr. Obama was first running for office, Dr. Beyer was under the impression that he would reform Medicare physician reimbursement as part of Obamacare, making it fairer to doctors. But instead, Obamacare changed Medicare in ways that allow the federal government and bureaucrats to micromanage doctors even more. For example, as Heritage explains:
Obamacare mandates a 2 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments for doctors that do “not satisfactorily submit data” to Washington officials, and a 1 percent reduction for physicians who fail to follow bureaucrat-defined “cost” metrics.
Now Dr. Beyer is doing what he can to get the word out about how bad Obamacare is for medicine. In 2010, he published a book, Heaven or Health, a doctor’s common sense plan to save our health and our health care system. He also started a Facebook group, Doctors Against Obamacare, where he and other physicians post stories about the harmful effects of Obamacare.
But what makes his situation as a LASIK eye surgeon insightful for the rest of us? He has a perspective, experience with patients, and knowledge about the medical industry that D.C. bureaucrats and lawmakers do not. Yet, he says that nowhere in the Obamacare debate did lawmakers actually engage doctors.
Dr. Beyer was also part of the team that performed the world’s first laser vision correction procedure and was one of the first to perform experimental LASIK surgery in 1988. He knows the meaning of innovation and has experienced firsthand how effective the free market is in encouraging physicians to develop procedures that better meet their patients’ needs. He currently owns his own practice, Boulder Eyes Beyer Lasik, but he also dedicates time to combating the destructive law known as Obamacare.
LASIK and the Free Market
Last May, John Stossel wrote about the mind numbing ways Obamacare micromanages health care in America. For example, few people are aware just how many times the words “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations” are repeated in the text of the law. One estimate is that these paper pushers have added 30 words of regulations for every word in the original law.
“Government likes to think regulations can account for every possibility.” Stossel said this excessive regulation makes sense on “Government-Planned World,” but “it will be no more successful than Soviet central planning.
Then, to demonstrate how the free market works better than government regulation, he wrote about LASIK:
Compare all that to a tiny part of American medicine that is still free-market: Lasik eye surgery.
Its quality has improved, while its costs have dropped 25 percent. Lasik (and cosmetic surgery) are specialties that provide a better consumer experience because they are a market. Patients pay directly, so doctors innovate constantly to please them. Lasik doctors even give patients their cell phone numbers.
Stossel was right; from Dr. Beyer’s first hand perspective, Obamacare is smothering LASIK eye surgeons’ ability to operate in the free market. Obamacare limits the amount of money that can be placed in FLEX Accounts, and under Obamacare, health care plans that encourage such shopping around, such as catastrophic plans with high deductibles and tax-deferred health savings accounts, are much more difficult for individuals to obtain. The Cincinnati Business Courier reported on this very phenomenon in April.
Dr. Beyer added that by limiting insurance options – whether those limitations come through a single-payer system, Medicare, or limiting individuals to 2 or 3 insurance companies under Obamacare – through fee setting, the government can dictate where patients are sent and which doctors they are able to see. Therefore, there will be less competition, less patient choice, increased administrative costs, decreased payments to providers and ultimately, worse patient outcomes.
Dear Liberals, Doctors Are People Too
Dr. Beyer said:
“Providers aren’t slaves yet their biggest employer (the government) thinks they are. As the government moves closer and closer to a single payer system (like Medicare), it will continue to ratchet down on doctors, who unlike other government employees, are not represented by unions and not afforded the ability to collectively bargain.”
That is a very important point that liberal pundits and politicians do not seem to comprehend. Excessive, restrictive government regulations and decreasing payments to physicians make the practice of medicine more tedious, less rewarding, and less attractive so ultimately doctors have no choice but to leave the profession. The Heritage Foundation notes:
Obamacare exacerbates [the physician shortage in the U.S.] by further worsening physicians’ attitude regarding the health care system. According to a survey by The Doctors Company, the largest insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability in the nation, not only do doctors believe that Obamacare will not improve the health care system, they also anticipate that it will make the current condition worse.
All too often, the left makes doctors out to be the enemy, condemning them for being paid too much, but good doctors are vital to the good of our nation. Doctors go through the grueling years of medical school and residency – generally a 7 to 8 year period during which hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt are acquired, not to mention the stress endured.
Dr. Beyer addresses this in his book, Heaven or Health, explaining that a young man who finds work as a plumber at the age of 18 making $40 thousand per year will have a significantly greater net worth by the time he is 40 years old than a doctor who begins working at the age of 32, having acquired $120 thousand in debt. The young doctor faces higher tax rates, must pay the interest on his loans, and must pay down his debt.
Moreover, it is especially egregious for liberal politicians to criticize doctors for how much they are reimbursed for their services and to manipulate physicians’ income through invasive regulations. Think about Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 15% who opposed a cut in Congressional pay because it would offend her “dignity”:
I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do. I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.
Nancy Pelosi gets paid $193,400 per year in taxpayer money to help ruin the country with destructive liberal policies. It doesn’t matter if she has roughly $30 million in the bank – she gets taxed on her income. Conversely, a doctor whose net worth is negative $1.2 million (doctors who start their own practice often have to invest hundreds of thousands in medical equipment alone), and who made $275 thousand per year is considered rich and taxed on his or her income, because the debt doesn’t count against income.
Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues are unrelenting Obamacare supporters, even though the law is destroying American healthcare. Dr. Beyer has ideas about how to improve this situation. The Heritage Foundation does too. And they look nothing like Obamacare.