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Health Care Wars

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The battle over health care took a turn for the better this week as Federal Judge Henry Hudson struck down certain provisions of the bill as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, things could take a turn for the worse for breast cancer patients by Friday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides whether to ration the drug Avastin for breast cancer patients.

The headlines are full of stories about the impact of ObamaCare – none of them good. Here is a recent sample:

Obamacare: Study Finds 40% of Doctors May Quit: Research conducted by Merritt Hawkins shows that the new health care reform could intensify existing problems for doctors and worsen the shortage of primary care doctors, making it more difficult for patients to access quality care. Here are some specifics:

• The majority of physicians (60%) said health reform will compel them to close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients. Of these, 93% said they will be forced to close or significantly restrict their practices to Medicaid patients, while 87% said they would be forced to close or significantly restrict their practices to Medicare patients.

• 40% of physicians said they would drop out of patient care in the next one to three years, either by retiring, seeking a non-clinical job within healthcare, or by seeking a non-healthcare related job.

• The majority of physicians (59%) said health reform will cause them to spend less time with patients.

60% of Americans Want ObamaCare Repeal: The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 60% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law while 34% are opposed. As has been the case since the law was first passed, those who favor repeal feel more passionately than those who want to keep the law--46% Strongly Favor repeal while just 23% who are Strongly Opposed.

New Low in Support for ObamaCare: ABC News/Washington Post poll also finds support for the Affordable Care Act at an all-time low of 43 percent, down from a peak of 48 percent in November of 2009. Meanwhile, 52 percent of respondents oppose the law. At the extremes, more are “strongly” opposed to the law (37 percent) than “strongly” support it (22 percent).

NYT’s Krugman Suggests “Death Panels” to Balance Budget: On ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” Paul Krugman said “"Some years down the pike, we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes. It's going to be that we're actually going to take Medicare under control, and we're going to have to get some additional revenue, probably from a VAT. But it's not going to happen now."

The Avastin Travesty: This ongoing Avastin travesty pits a cancer-fighting drug against a drug-fighting cancer — an out-of-control federal agency whose mission unashamedly includes choking off patients’ access to vital drugs. Reform should start by targeting the FDA’s power to substitute collectivized decisions for individual choice.

Health Insurers Drop Coverage For Children Ahead of New Rules: Health plans in at least four states have announced they're dropping children's coverage just days ahead of new rules created by the healthcare reform law.

Furthermore, the advocates of rationing are coming out to defend the pending FDA decision. Highlight Health, a website dedicated to “empower patients to have more productive discussions with their physicians and make informed decisions about their healthcare,” has jumped into the fight on the side of rationing. According to Walter Jessen, “the FDA should be concerned about costs. Healthcare costs endanger U.S. financial stability. Simply ignoring the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and focusing exclusively on the treatment benefits, however small — in this case the average survival benefit is zero — will have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy.” Give Jessen some credit; he is honest about his advocacy of rationing. Most supporters of the FDA’s pending decision are not.

To Jessen, the problem with Avastin is some patients do not react favorably to the drug while others react extremely favorably to the drug. That is the point – rationing will deny those who benefit access to the treatment. Health care under this regime becomes a zero sum game. Patients and doctors should have more choices and access to treatment – not less.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could radically change our health care system this Friday. Should they move forward and deny access to treatment based on cost, Americans will suffer – and not only those inflicted with breast cancer. Rationing drugs and treatments based on cost will alter the health care landscape for decades to come.

Judge Henry Hudson’s courageous decision recognizing that ObamaCare exceeds constitutional authority with regards to mandatory purchase of health insurance is a step in the right direction but the war is not over by any means. Everyday the negative impact of the law is being felt across the nation. Hopefully Hudson’s decision becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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