Bill Would Ban Government From Forcing Racial Bias in Medicare

Andara Puchino

Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., proposed a bill Thursday that would prohibit health care providers from adopting racially discriminatory policies in their practices at the behest of the federal government. 

The legislation is necessary to prevent the Biden administration from using the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs to advance the left’s “anti-racist” doctrine, Palmer said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Daily Signal.  

“I’m trying to prevent the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from further undermining public confidence in our health care system,” Palmer said of introducing his bill. 

“I do not want anyone, regardless of their race or gender or any other delineating characteristic, to feel like they were not treated with the same care and expertise that anybody else was,” he said. 

Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., left, listens during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Jan. 24, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

The text of Palmer’s bill says that it would prohibit the head of the Department of Health and Human Services from counting a medical practice’s development of “anti-racism” plans as improvements for patients under the government’s Medicare program. 

During an April 27 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee, Palmer pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra over a proposed department rule providing financial incentives for physicians and other medical professionals to adopt “anti-racist” policies in their practices.  

The Alabama Republican and other conservatives note that the tenets of “anti-racism” and “anti-racist” policies are based in critical race theory, a Marxist philosophy holding that all human interactions are imbued with racism. They argue that anti-racist policies undermine the nation’s ideals of equality by attempting to destroy traditional structures and root out “whiteness.” 

Palmer expressed concern that the Department of Health and Human Services rule would reduce nonwhite patients’ confidence in doctors of other races or ethnicities and prompt some white patients to believe they are being discriminated against. 

Becerra said during the hearing that no such HHS rule exists, but the health advocacy group Do No Harm provided evidence that it does. The group posted an image of a table from an HHS planning document for fiscal year 2022. 

The document says the department intends to “create and implement an anti-racist plan using the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] Disparities Impact Statement or other anti-racism planning tools.” 

“It’s a form of reverse discrimination, and it’s been incentivized with higher reimbursements from Medicare to doctors who implement the plan,” Palmer told The Daily Signal. “I felt like all patients should be treated the same regardless of their racial makeup, and that the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements should not be impacted one way or the other.” 

Palmer’s bill, called the Prevent Racism in Medicare Act, targets HHS’ proposed anti-racist rule governing the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System that determines adjustments of Medicare payments to health care providers.

“Rep. Palmer is doing American health care a profound favor,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of Do No Harm, which exposed the HHS rule.  

“This bill fights the Biden administration’s dangerous effort to force divisive and discriminatory ideas into the doctor-patient relationship,” Goldfarb said. “The White House should be looking for ways to make health care more accessible for all, not pushing doctors to prioritize some patients over others for ideology.” 

“When evaluating medical decisions, the only factor that should matter is what’s best for the patient,” said Garrett Bess, vice president of Heritage Action for America, adding: 

However, unsurprisingly, the administration would prefer doctors to make these decisions based on a patient’s skin color. 

While common sense should be enough to dissuade the administration from this course, logic very rarely seems to win out. Fortunately, Congressman Palmer has introduced legislation to ensure this, or similar practices, are never adopted 

Heritage Action is the grassroots partner of The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal. 

Palmer’s Republican co-sponsors so far include Reps. Bob Latta and Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Brian Mast and Greg Steube of Florida, Adrian Smith of Nebraska, Tom Tiffany of Colorado, and Texas’ August Pfluger, Randy Weber, Chip Roy, and Michael Cloud.

He doesn’t expect to get support from any House Democrats, Palmer told The Daily Signal. 

“It’s not about what’s best for the country. It’s not about what unifies us to restore public confidence in the mediating institutions of our nation,” Palmer said, characterizing Democrats’ political stance.

“They don’t care about that. Every mediating institution in the nation has lost the confidence of the American people,” he said. “And this [HHS rule] will further undermine that.” 

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https://www.dailysignal.com/2022/05/19/alabama-republicans-bill-would-ban-government-from-forcing-racial-discrimination-in-medicare/

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