By Alec Kohut
Yesterday the right wing social media was buzzing about the story of the Kentucky doctor who put an ad in his local paper declaring that due to Obamacare, he was closing his office. I claimed that nothing in the ACA could in any way force a doctor to close his office, or create so much regulation that it would be too expensive to continue.
As the story unfolded, the Obamacare regulation that was forcing the doctor into retirement was the mandate that all health records must be electronic by the year 2014. The doctor, Steven Kiteck, cited the fact the his office was “computer illiterate,” and could not make the transition to electronic records.
Well, it turns out I was right, and almost everyone in media, including the progressive media, got it wrong.
Let’s start with the Electronic Health Records (EHR) “mandate.” Well, in the first place, there is no “mandate.” There are strong incentives, and Medicare reimbursement penalties, however no doctor is being forced to go electronic. So what are the Medicare penalties? For doctor who wishes not to file Medicare claims using EHR, the reimbursement falls 1% for each of the next five years.
I’m sure some would argue that in itself constitutes a “mandate.” However, if a doctor chooses to use the much more expensive, and labor intensive method of manually filing claims, that costs the Medicare systems (and taxpayers) more money. So in reality, the added expense of the filing is being shared by the doctor. Saving taxpayers, and Medicare money!
But the real fun fact in this whole story is this, the push toward universal Electronic Health Records, is NOT part of Obamacare, and was not an initiative of President Obama. The goal of near universal use of Electronic Health Records was championed and made official by Executive Orders signed by George W. Bush in 2004.
At the time President Bush said, “Within ten years, every American must have a personal electronic medical record...”(1) So the push toward electronic records was made not by Obamacare, not by President Obama, but by the Bush administration. President Bush even touted his efforts on Electronic Medical Records in his 2004 State of the Union speech.
Let’s see if the good Dr. Kiteck will try a bit of honesty and admit this fact.
President Obama only continued the Bush initiative, and did more to provide support and funding to make the conversion smooth and less costly to medical providers as part of the stimulus bill.
So the idea that this doctor’s office was in any way forced to close due to “Obamacare policies,” is, as I stated yesterday, wholly dishonest.
But the problem is deeper than just fraudulent story about lying doctor in Kentucky. The real problem is with not only the conservatives who put aside any, and all facts that they don’t like, but the problem also lies with the progressive media that fail to do the research to debunk these completely bogus claims. If the mainstream media, and people like Chris Matthews refuse to expose the lies of the right-wing, we must do it loud and with facts.
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A great story on the so-called “mandate:”