AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE OR OBAMACARE, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, is about to be ruled on by SCOTUS.
One item that physicians with difficult, challenging, and unusual patients need to worry about is how the ruling will challenge their ability to take care of complicated patients who have proved refractory to standard therapies, or who have failed conventional treatment protocols. These physicians and their patients could well have their hands tied unless Section 10320 is modified or eliminated. Section 10320 allows for the appointment of an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a tribunal of persons who need not necessarily be physicians. This panel will determine what the ACA will cover. The IPAB will not report to the people or to Congress. Ensconced in legislative fiat, it is poised to ration care by finding various procedures and protocols outside the mandate of coverage. In California where we watch the misuse of Utilization Review in Workers Compensation, we see how it works: treatments with lower success rates or that aren't buttressed by what authorities consider sufficient Evidence Based Medicine are disallowed no matter how carefully a specific treatment or study may be indicated on an indivdual basis and even though the patient may have failed everything else. Injured workers in California are deprived of indicated care by this method on a daily basis. So may it be with other patients covered by the ACA unless Section 10320 is altered or repealed. Watch for our follow-up on this issue.