Section 1311(h)(1)(B) of the health law gives the secretary of Health and Human Services blanket authority to dictate how doctors treat patients. Not just patients in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but patients with private plans they pay for themselves. On Dec. 2, 2013, we learned from the Federal Register that the rules are now being written. Starting in 2015, insurance companies will be barred from doing business with doctors who fail to comply. The rules will be offered in the name of ensuring “health-care quality,” which of course could mean anything.
“The powers given to the secretary are so broad, he or she could literally dictate how all physicians nationwide practice medicine,” warns Congressman Phil Gingrey (R. Georgia), himself a physician. Gingrey is sponsoring a bill to repeal Section 1311(h)(1)(B). Otherwise, he says, the HHS secretary – a Washington bureaucrat with no medical training – could, for example, bar doctors from doing routine mammogram screenings until female patients turn 50. In short, the federal government will be calling the shots on what patients get.