There is a new wage war brewing in the United States. The federal government says that doctors are paid too much. Is a “maximum wage” for physicians next?
The New Wage Wars
Thanks to Bernie Sanders, this election year has seen a reinvigoration of the liberal Democrats’ ever-advancing war on free markets and at-will employment. Referring to this latest political skirmish as the “Fight for 15,” they seek to mandate a so-called “living wage” that, as we all know, will actually result in the intended beneficiaries losing their jobs. It is a typical liberal Democratic initiative that will punish the very individuals it claims to help.
Ironically, those same liberal Democrats—and the federal government bureaucrats who work for them—have no problem arguing the opposite case when it comes to the country’s physicians. Doctors, it seems, make too much, and therefore should be limited to a federally imposed, one size fits all “maximum wage.”
Unfortunately, in today’s post-Obamacare America, this outlandish and blatantly unconstitutional position has teeth. It is also being enforced at hospitals around the country.
Welcome to Obamacare. The outlook for your future care is very bad, indeed.
Don’t believe me? Sounds outlandish? Well, read on . . .
Making Examples of the Nation’s Hospitals
It was recently announced that Lexington Medical Center located in Columbia, South Carolina will pay the federal government $17 million to settle claims that it paid its employed physicians too much. Sadly, Lexington is not alone. In the last year alone, another South Carolina hospital and two Florida hospitals paid the federal government $72.4 million, $69.5 million, and $118.7 million respectively to settle similar lawsuits. And there are many other stories where those came from.
So . . . what is going on?
The Obamacare Dilemma
Having forcibly shoved Obamacare down our throats, the federal government now has a few very serious problems:
First, doctors, like everyone, cannot, and will not, work for free.
Second, the biggest consumers of Obamacare—that is, the previously uninsured and those who are in the country illegally—have no intention of paying any health insurance premium, no matter how ostensibly “affordable.” For its part, the federal government has no real recourse aside from penalties that those same folks likewise have no intention of paying. Anything more forceful is a political non-starter and would alienate their base of entitlement voters.
Third, because the biggest utilizers of Obamacare are not paying a dime for the privilege, they are spending other people’s money. And we all know how that turns out: costs escalate as quality plummets. It is a basic law of economics, markets, and human nature that no politician or government bureaucrat can overcome.
Between rising healthcare costs (of which physician salaries is a less-than-minuscule component), the need for subsidies, and the tendency of the subsidized to overspend (among other factors), any way you slice it, Obamacare is simply unaffordable.
To add to the government’s problems, healthcare is also notoriously difficult to regulate in the trenches. After all, the practice of medicine involves highly skilled and trained professionals making constant (and often snap) judgments involving both art and science. How is a government bureaucrat with a degree in political science going to keep up, much less catch the healthcare “bad guys” in the act, when he doesn’t even understand their language?
Finally, many in the country still respect physicians. Most actually love their own physician. With marching orders to divide and conquer, how is that same government bureaucrat to turn physicians into villains, much less public enemy number one?
The Federal Government’s Solution
All of these problems are solved by the federal government’s newest tactic in its 100-year war on physicians: Suing hospitals for paying their employed physicians too much. While the rest of the country argues over raising the country’s minimum wage, physicians are quietly being clubbed over the head by a federal government intent upon applying a “maximum wage” restriction to them alone.
Of course, such a thing is frankly unconstitutional. Of course, that never stopped the D.C. powers that be.
PAY ATTENTION TO THIS:
This is how doctors will have their pay effectively lowered, and lowered, and lowered until such time as they become dramatically underpaid and thus are forced to quit practicing medicine. This, of course, will solve the Obamacare problem of physician compensation—especially when the government makes good on its promise to replace physicians with those with less training and experience, who in turn will accept lower wages—for a time. Then they will quit, and someone even less qualified will be hired. They, too, will accept less, until they, too, quit, at which time someone even less experienced—and less expensive—takes over. They, too, . . .
You get the point: It is a never-ending downward spiral of increasing ineptitude. After all, you get what you pay for. Health care is no exception to that universal rule.
You will be told that physicians are willingly leaving the country at the mercy of a doctor shortage because they are greedy and do not care about your needs or your health. In actuality, they are being forced out by a federal government that is driving them into forced servitude and personal poverty. When it comes down to a choice between practicing medicine and sending your children to college, or between practicing medicine and paying the light bill, then things can get very oppressive very fast. And for the nation’s physicians, they are—at lightning speed.
Calling in Reinforcements
The whistleblower nature of these lawsuits also solves the enforcement problem. By effectively incentivizing disgruntled physicians—who are in so short supply these days—to snitch on their colleagues for their own personal gain, it turns physicians into the federal government’s eyes and ears—and expert witnesses—on the hospital floors.
Nowhere is this effect more apparent than in the Lexington case. Lexington paid the federal government $17 million to settle claims that it paid its employed physicians to refer patients to the hospital for the care that they needed. One neurologist employed by the hospital collected a paycheck from the hospital, yet sent his patients elsewhere for care. Of course the hospital “pressured” him to utilize their facilities—they were paying his salary! After he was fired, he went to the federal government, which promptly filed a whistleblower lawsuit on his behalf. According to the government, paying the neurologist’s salary gave the hospital no right to pressure him into treating his patients at the hospital. That paid his salary. I kid you not.
The tattling physician’s take? A cool $4.5 million for doing absolutely nothing. He will never have to work another day in his life. He also gets his revenge against a former employer. No doubt, he was motivated by bitterness over the hospital’s having purchased his practice and turned him into an employee. Of course, the necessity of such a mutually distasteful employment arrangement was the fault of neither the hospital nor the neurologist. If you must blame someone, blame Obamacare—and the same federal government that shook down Lexington for $17 million while throwing a “finder’s fee” of $4.5 million to the newly wealthy tattle-tale. It’s a sweet deal for both. For you and me? Not so much.
White Coat Villains
Finally, lawsuits like the one in South Carolina assist the federal government in its never-ending quest to vilify doctors and hospitals so that it can continue to punish and control them at will and with the public’s approval. They allow the federal government to take a public “victory lap,” at the same time giving the public the impression that it is “cracking down” on “bad doctors” and “bad hospitals.” You know the drill: Publicly vilify your target, excoriate them in the oh-so-compliant press, then take them out. That is what is happening here.
And best of all for the government, it is a rigged game—an unfair fight. Since they are the federal government, they simply pressure the hospitals until they have to settle. The hospitals have no choice. Guilt, and the breaking of laws, has nothing to do with it.
Show Us the Money—Or Not
In case you were wondering, absolutely none of the money collected from these sham lawsuits will be used to fund the care that you receive. Instead, it will go straight into the pockets of: (1) the government bureaucrats who approve the lawsuits; (2) the government lawyers who bring them, pretending to practice law while knowing that all of the cases will settle; (3) the judges who approve these forced and planned extortions masquerading as settlements; and, of course, (4) those who contribute nothing yet continue to receive Obamacare subsidies while the rest of us working stiffs are priced out of the insurance marketplace altogether and, eventually, denied the care that we need for our troubles.
This, of course, allows for greater redistribution. It works out for everyone—except you and me.
None of this improves the quality of your health care. Nor will it lower the cost of that care. But then again, as I have warned many times over, Obamacare has nothing to do with the quality or cost of your care. To the contrary, the law is designed to destroy the care that you receive. And it is doing just that.
Here is the point:
Hospitals are now being sued by the federal government for paying their employed physicians too much.
How can that be?
So-called “whistleblowers” make millions of dollars—for some, tens of millions of dollars—for doing nothing more honorable than snitching on their former employers—again, for ostensibly committing the “new crime” of paying physicians too much for doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
Ask yourself: Exactly how much is too much? How much is a good physician worth? Is physician compensation one size fits all?
What if we suddenly said that CEOs could not be paid “too much” regardless of their qualifications and value to the companies they run? Or attorneys? Or painters, plumbers, or roofers? Or the guy who mows your lawn? Or you?
That’s right: No one would stand for it.
Somehow, when the victims are physicians, it is just fine. Go figure.
So . . . In a world where employed physicians’ salaries are already dropping precipitously, how long will it be before physicians are making less than any other professionals? Or, for that matter, your local manual laborer?
That’s right: Not long.
And when that happens, how many of the best and the brightest academics are going to choose to go into medicine in return for a government-mandated “maximum wage?” How many are going to be willing to go through decades of medical training, stay up endless nights, work countless weekends, miss important events in their own families, and risk being sued at every turn—again, in exchange for a government-mandated “maximum wage” that will be far less than their college classmates are making? How many will forgo caring for their own family’s needs so that they can care for the needs of others?
Most importantly, how many will be there to respond to the call when you need them?
That’s right: None.
Welcome to rationed care, compliments of the federal government.
The Obamacare ride is getting bumpy. Better hold on tight.
If Hillary Clinton wins in November, things will get much worse. Brace yourselves. As the liberal Democrats get their wish of a McDonald’s minimum wage that starts at $15, is indexed for inflation, and goes steadily up from there, physicians—your physician—probably won’t be paid enough to live on.
What do you think that will do to the care that you receive?
That’s right: It will destroy it.
Welcome to Obamacare. You’re going to hate it.
Please let me know your thoughts.