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If you think that government-run medicine will solve the problems in our health care system, listen to this sobering testimonial on socialized medicine in the UK:
The National Center for Policy Analysis, The Mike Gallagher Show and the Salem Radio Network have authored the “Free Our Health Care Now!” online petition. They hope to deliver hundreds of thousands of online petition signatures to Congress to stop ObamaCare in its tracks.
Sign the petition now!
For another example of how “progressives” plan to villify those who fail to fall in with the party line on health care, one need look no further than Paul Krugman’s latest calumny:
Less than two weeks have passed since much of the medical-industrial complex made a big show of working with President Obama on health care reform — and the double-crossing is already well under way.
This is Krugman at his Orwellian best. The fact is that it was the President who double-crossed the “stakeholders” who were dumb enough to participate in his health summit.
But now that the “medical-industrial complex” has figured out that Obama was not acting in good faith, the “progressive” community is attacking the stakeholders.
As Democrat congresswoman Jan Schakowsky famously put it, “this is not a principled fight.” The advocates of government-run health care have no intention of debating honestly.
I always like to hear the reasoned arguments of our adversaries (see email below). I especially like his analysis of how costs are held down in the UK and Canada via “preventive medicine”. I think what he means is that all those colonoscopies that the NHS prevents Brits from getting greatly lower their colorectal cancer outcomes – thus saving the system lots of money via the premature death of patients.
From: [email protected]
Subject: Ha Ha!
Date: May 12, 2009 12:51:10 PM EDT
To: [email protected]
If you weren’t so stupid and so godamm funny I would actually be upset about your lies and stupidity concerning single payer health insurance. I never heard of any of your “films”, but I’m sure they’re as equally funny and misguided. Let’s see – whose opionion should I trust? – a nobel prize winning econimist PhD from Princeton or a hack nobody? Tough choice. As for Canadian healthcare or British healthcare for that matter, the main focus is on preventative medicine. That’s why the costs are so low. People in this country who are uninsured wait until the last minute to receive help, so costs ultimately skyrocket.
Aetna (one grand cocksucking “health” insurance swindler) actually requires a renal patient to pay a 50.00 co-pay out of pocket for each dialysis treatment. They also mandate that ALL renal patients need only three treatments a week. In Britain, if your doctor stipulates 5 treatments – you get 5 treatments – no copay. By the by, if you can’t afford the co-pay I know of many patients who apply for Medicare. So big, bad government actually subsidizes these multi-billion dollar industries. Does this make sense to you, you fucking moron? Socialized Medicine Now!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the ineffective way conservatives debate health care reform. Frank Luntz has been thinking about the same issue and has some advice for Republicans:
You simply MUST be vocally and passionately on the side of REFORM … The status quo is no longer acceptable. If the dynamic becomes ‘President Obama is on the side of reform and Republicans are against it,’ then the battle is lost.
In other words, stop fighting “reform.” Instead, fight for the right kind of reform. Luntz also suggests some verbiage that will be more effective when attempting to define the real peril of Obamacare:
It could lead to the government setting standards of care, instead of doctors who really know what’s best.
It could lead to the government rationing care, making people stand in line and denying treatment like they do in other countries with national healthcare.
President Obama wants to put the Washington bureaucrats in charge of healthcare. I want to put the medical professionals in charge, and I want patients as an equal partner.
I hope conservatives will listen to Luntz. The way our side has been conducting the debate has been hopelessly ineffective. If we don’t change tactics and start speaking to the issue in human terms, the cause is a goner.
The advocates of government-run health care are doing their best to convince the American public that warnings about rationing under President Obama’s health care “reforms” are nothing more than the scare tactics of hidebound reactionaries.
But Lawrence Summers, the President’s chief economic advisor, recently confirmed that rationing is precisely what Obamacare is about. The Washington Times reports the following assertion by Summers on “Meet the Press”:
Whether it’s tonsillectomies or hysterectomies … procedures are done three times as frequently [in some parts of the country than others] and there’s no benefit in terms of the health of the population. And by doing the right kind of cost-effectiveness, by making the right kinds of investments and protection, some experts … estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system.
What Summers means is that the government—-not you or your doctor—-will decide whether it is appropriate for you to have a tonsillectomy or hysterectomy. How, you ask, can they do that?
Well, when they control the entire health care sector (after deliberately destroying the private insurance market and herding everyone to a public plan), they will simply refuse to pay for services they don’t want you to have.
That’s how they plan to save money. They will economize on YOUR health care.
The NYT reports that leading Democrats are largely in agreement on how they want to “reform” health care. This is not good news. Michael Tanner, at Cato, sums it up well when he describes their plan thus:
A dog’s breakfast of bad ideas that will lead to higher taxes, fewer choices, and poorer quality care.
Some of these bad ideas are as follows:
An Individual Mandate: Every American will be required to buy an insurance policy that meets certain government requirements. Even individuals who are currently insured — and happy with their insurance — will have to switch to insurance that meets the government’s definition of acceptable insurance, even if that insurance is more expensive or contains benefits that they do not want or need.
An Employer Mandate: At a time of rising unemployment, the government will raise the cost of hiring workers by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fee (tax) to subsidize government coverage.
A Government-Run Plan: Because such a plan is subsidized by taxpayers, it will have an unfair advantage, allowing it to squeeze out private insurance. In addition, because government insurance plans traditionally under-reimburse providers, such costs are shifted to private insurance plans, driving up their premiums and making them even less competitive.
Massive New Subsidies: This includes not just subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance, but expansions of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
Government Playing Doctor: Democrats agree that one goal of their reform plan is to push for “less use of aggressive treatments that raise costs but do not result in better outcomes.” While no mechanism has yet been spelled out, it seems likely that the plan will use government-sponsored comparative effectiveness research to impose cost-effectiveness guidelines on medical care, initially in government programs, but eventually extending such restrictions to private insurance.
As Tanner puts it, “be afraid, be very afraid.”
Obama’s stimulus bill contains $1.1 billion for “comparative effectiveness research”. Here’s what socialized health care advocate Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) had to say:
The new research will eventually save money and lives, although it may very well shorten the lifespan of some senior citizens who would not be allowed to receive some treatments even if they volunteer to pay for them themselves. (Robert Pear, New York Times 2/15/09)
We won’t be able to say that we were not warned.
Ignoring mountains of evidence showing that electronic medical records will not save our health care system any significant amount of money, our new President is still promoting EMR as a panacea.
This is becoming too much even for some of the people who voted for him. Doctors Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, for example, are so irritated by this BS that they wrote the following in the WSJ:
We need the president to apply real scientific rigor to fix our health-care system rather than rely on elegant exercises in wishful thinking.
In addition to pointing out that EMR won’t save the money projected by the Obama administration, Groopman and Hartzband also point out that the technology does not, as is also claimed, improve quality of care:
In a study of orthopedic surgeons, those using handheld PDAs had seven times as many errors as their paper-based cohorts.
A study of 15,000 heart patients found EMRs produced little improvement in the quality of care.
A study of 1.8 billion ambulatory care visits found EMRs produced no improvement in the quality of care.
Unfazed by all of this, Dr. Obama is still peddling his EMR snake oil. I guess he figures that the “news” media will aid and abet him in the fraud, and the Hopium eaters are too stoned on “change” to notice.
Two facts should give us pause as we move into the brave new world of health care reform: (1) universal heath care is fiscally unsustainable if we continue to provide care at the level expected by most Americans (2) we spend huge amounts of money on elderly and terminally ill patients.
John Griffing at the American Thinker believes that these realities, combined with the kind of central government control of health care that is the obvious goal of the Democats in Congress and in the White House, will push us further and further toward the sort of heath policies adopted in Holland:
Holland has already slipped the slope. Holland’s healthcare system is so cash-strapped that it views humans as liabilities. A patient must formally request “no euthanasia” before simple outpatient surgery.
And this is no mere formality:
Involuntary euthanasia accounts for over 1,000 deaths in Holland. In addition, 8,000 people in Holland die every year because they are given intentional overdoses of pain medication, not to control pain, but to end life.
Don’t think this can happen here? Better wake up and smell the coffin.
Too hear the advocates of “Universal Healthcare” tell it, the U.S. government would never ration medical care. All the while, they blather on about holding down spending and the virtues of government-sponsored “comparative effectiveness” studies to determine “appropriate” (read bureaucrat-approved) care. In this morning’s New York Post, Sally Pipes shows where Obama’s plan is inexorably headed:
As the costs for his health reforms mount, Obama will be forced to employ the same strategies that Canada and Britain have to cut spending. That means the rationing of care (and significantly higher taxes).
If you want to know how the British public was tricked into accepting socialized medicine, watch this little nugget of pro-NHS propaganda. Note the similarities between these lies and the whoppers now being told to U.S. voters:
Hmm … Odd that they neglect to mention waiting lists, ambulance stacking, denied medications or the retail price at which the NHS assesses the average Brit’s life.
In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Nadeem Esmail of Canada’s Fraser Institute warns Americans about the rationing that will inevitably come courtesy of “Universal Healthcare”:
Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a “Birmingham” hip resurfacing surgery (a state-of-the-art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement) as the best medical option. But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was “too old” to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no. In the end, he was also denied the opportunity to pay for the procedure himself in Alberta.
Yesterday, I pointed out that the SCHIP tobacco tax is a device designed to force poor people to buy insurance for members of the middle class. Anyone still doubting that should consider our President’s latest executive order:
President Barack Obama made more children from middle-class families eligible for government health insurance Thursday by lifting a directive imposed by his predecessor.
Obama’s “predecessor” tried to reserve SCHIP funds for the low-income kids at whom the program was originally aimed. He wanted the states to cover poor kids before they started covering middle class families:
Under the [Bush] restrictions, at least 95 percent of poor children eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP had to already be in those programs before states could begin using federal funds to cover higher-income children.
But our new President has different goals. He and his accomplices in Congress are using the SCHIP program as a Trojan Horse for universal, government-run health care.
Not that they care about health care any more than they care about poor kids. For them it’s just another vote buying scheme.
Many advocates of government-run health care claim that Medicare is “the most successful government program in history” and urge policy makers to expand it to encompass our entire medical delivery system. These people are, of course, delusional. As IBD points out, Medicare is actually a pig’s breakfast:
Anyone who thinks a national single-payer system would be an improvement isn’t paying attention. Medicare, which provides coverage for less than 15% of the population, can’t get it right.
One of the things it can’t get right is physician payment:
Payments have been so late in some cases that doctors from New York to California have had little choice but to take out loans — some as large as $3 million — to bridge the gap.
And even if Medicare could get the money there on time, it’s not enough:
In too many instances, the compensation that is eventually provided by Medicare — an amount determined by bureaucrats, not the market … is simply not enough to cover the physicians’ costs.
Why should you care about how much doctors get paid?
First, some doctors are cutting back on the number of Medicare patients they see — limiting medical care access for the elderly who rely on Medicare and have paid into it for 40 years or more.
And future access for the growing elderly population looks even worse:
Second, the arrangement kills incentives for medical school students to practice family medicine, which already seems to be a dying art, as only 8% of 2006 U.S. medical school graduates opted for family practices.
So, Medicare has contrived a situation in which both patients and their doctors get the shaft. That’s government-run health care folks—-lose, lose.
In last week’s U.S. News and World Report, Newt Gingrich plugged our videos:
More government bureaucrats involved in your healthcare would be destructive. Other countries with similar systems face lengthy and often deadly waiting lists. That is the only way to ration unlimited demand in the face of static supply. Go to YouTube and view the short films of Stuart Browning for a flavor of the Canadian system.
I have written before about the deplorable NHS policy of restricting access to life-saving medications. Anyone doubting that the “reformers” who now control D.C. have the same thing in mind for us should read this WSJ piece:
In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their “cost effectiveness” before citizens can get access to them … Here in the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama and House Democrats embrace the creation of a similar “comparative effectiveness” entity.
What do they mean by “cost effectiveness” and “comparative effectiveness”? They mean that dying patients will not be allowed access to certain drugs if they ”cost too much.”
In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their “cost effectiveness” before citizens can get access to them. The agency has concluded that $45,000 is the most worth paying for products that extend a person’s life by one “quality-adjusted” year.
In other words, they decide how much your life is worth and withhold any treatment whose cost exceeds that arbitrary amount. The worst feature of this grotesque and deadly policy is that it won’t save any money:
The Congressional Budget Office says that government-run comparative effectiveness studies won’t actually save much money.
Even more ironic, this policy will be implemented at a time when the federal government is involved in a wild orgy of spending. I wonder how many of the people who hailed O’s inauguration yesterday have any idea what sort of “change” they’re in for.
Many advocates of “universal” health care tell us that the best way to fix American health care is to expand Medicare to cover everyone. They ignore the fact that the program is already fiscally unsustainable, even if its scope remains static. George Will explains why:
When Medicare was created in 1965, America’s median age was 28.4; now it is 36.6. The elderly are more numerous and medicine is more broadly competent than was then anticipated.
Meanwhile the number of people who pay the bills is shrinking in proportion to the number of people generating them:
In the 43 years since America decided that health care for the elderly would be paid for by people still working, the ratio of workers to seniors has steadily declined.
This has caused the geniuses who run the Medicare system to revert to price controls, the standard model that all government bureaucrats (everywhere) use for “cost containment”:
Medicare is a price-fixing system for upward of 12,000 procedures and drug codes — and for hundreds of categories of equipment.
This hasn’t worked, of course (price controls never work). Medicare is careening toward bankruptcy. Yet single-payer advocates claim government should have MORE control over the health system. And the apparatchiks are willing:
Governments with powerful political incentives to behave this way will play an increasingly large role in health care. As is said, if you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it is free.
Will stole that last line from P.J. O’Rourke, who coined it in a 1993 piece for Cato. But it still captures the magical thinking that surrounds the debate over government-run health care.
Many people think the government should provide free medical care because it is a “right.” The problem is that there is no such thing as “free” health care. Medicare demonstrates just how “not free” it is.
As I pointed out recently, the socialized medicine crowd has come up with a new pretext for imposing government-run health care on the country—-that it will somehow stimulate the economy. Michael Cannon asks an inconvenient question:
That seems to contradict their usual spiel … that America’s health care sector is wasteful and inefficient … How is pumping more money into such an inefficient economic sector supposed to stimulate growth?
The answer, of course, is that it won’t. Not that this really matters to the advocates of government-run health care. For them, this is just another bogus argument they can use to trick the public into giving them yet more power over our lives and money.
The more government involvement we have in health care, the more politicized the system becomes. In addition to shenanigans such as those we have seen relating to SCHIP and Medicare Advantage, there will also be straightforward graft. Per the WSJ:
The $8 million in new state money that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tied to a $50,000 campaign contribution from a children’s-hospital executive would have provided medical treatment to the sickest and poorest children throughout Illinois.
That’s right. In addition the other skulduggery he was up to, Blago was planning to withhold additional funding for seriously sick kids unless hospitals coughed up campaign contributions:
After the governor decided to approve the new $8 million in funding, he told an aide on Oct. 8 that he was considering reversing course because [Children’s Memorial CEO] Magoon hadn’t contributed $50,000 to the governor’s campaign fund.
OK. Now read the following very slowly (then actually think about it): This kind of thing is NOT UNUSUAL when politicians and bureaucrats control health care. For these creeps, it isn’t about health care (universal or otherwise). It’s about money and power.
A favorite talking point of the “universal coverage” crowd is the claim that 18,000 Americans die annually because they have no health coverage. Greg Scandlen does a good job of debunking this canard:
Like other misleading claims, this one is also based on a report by the Institute of Medicine … The study conducts no original research, but is a “meta-analysis” of existing studies. There is little consistency between these studies in quality or methods, and all are “observational rather than experimental.”
Ironically, considering the amount of play this bogus stat gets in the media, the IOM report only mentions the18,000 number in passing:
The number shows up only once in the entire report, buried way back in Appendix D that explains the tortured methodology used to come up with that number.
And, as Scandlen explains, there are so many flaws in this tortured methodology that the oft-repreated datum simply can’t be taken seriously. The bottom line is as follows:
Of all the things that might be said about the uninsured, the one thing that is almost certainly not true is that 18,000 of them die each year simply because they do not have coverage.
Like most of the claims made about the fabled uninsured, the tragic fate of those 18,000 victims is pure fiction.
Like MacBeth, the Obama administration and its accomplices in Congress know the danger of dawdling. They believe that Hillarycare was killed back in 1993 because the Clintons moved too slowly, allowing time for the opposition to mobilize. This time, as the WSJ points out, Obama’s “health care czar” isn’t about to let that happen:
According to Mr. Daschle, because of the Clintons’ hesitation, “reform opponents succeeded in confusing and even frightening Americans about what change might mean.”
He believes, in other words, that the opponents of government-run health care tricked the public into opposing it. Thus, the project of dramatically increasing the government’s role in health care will remain pretty much the same. Only the tactics will change:
[The Democrats] aren’t about to let history repeat itself. And since the lessons they learned from the HillaryCare fiasco are political, and not substantive, they are already moving full-speed ahead.
The Dems are planning to short-circuit the normal legislative process in order to ram this thing down our throats. And they have a plan that will allow them to do it without a filibuster-proof majority:
Democrats are talking up “budget reconciliation” to pass a health overhaul. This process was created in 1974 and allows legislation dealing with government finances to be whisked through Congress on a simple majority after 20 hours of debate.
They will declare victory against the “enemies of reform” and the “news” media will repeat this BS. Eventually, of course, their “reforms” will crash and burn, just as a very similar intiative has failed in Massachusetts. Why? Because their plan fails to address the underlying diseases afflicting American health care.
With the grim inevitability of Greek tragedy, costs will skyrocket, access will contract, and quality will decline. The only question involves who they will blame it on. Bush will be gone and they control both houses of Congress. Maybe they’ll blame it on global climate change. Yea, that’s the ticket.
Last weekend, as I trudged through the airport, I saw a copy of Time on a magazine rack. When I noticed the title of the cover story, “The Sorry State of American Health Care,” I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a copy.
Predictably, the article was just a recitation of the same old tired arguments and phony statistics repeated over and over (and over) by the advocates of government-run health care.
The phony stats parroted in the piece include our old friend infant mortality. As I pointed out a few days ago, infant mortality rates tell us nothing about a nation’s health care system, but Time doesn’t care about that:
In 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, about 7 babies out of every 1,000 live births in the U.S. died before their first birthday.
The piece admits that this represents another incremental gain in a century of progress, but then adds a black cloud to the silver lining by repeating the following faux-stat from the OECD:
But globally, it still places us 29th in the world, behind Cuba and Singapore and on a par with Poland and Slovakia.
The piece repeats equally specious canards about life expectancy, the uninsured, preventable deaths, and preventive medicine. All of its assertions about these things have been long ago debunked.
But this is not about information. The goal is to create a sense of crisis that will cause the public to accept government-run health care. And this “news” magazine has been engaged in this project for a long time.
Obvious and Urgent … Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, and even the American Medical Association, which fought Medicare for so long, are all agreed that a new federal role is necessary to help Americans pay their bills.
In other words, government intervention is urgently needed to avoid catastrophe. The only problem is that the above passage is from a piece that the magazine published in 1971.
That’s right. These people have been giving us the Chicken Little treatment for nearly 40 years. This is reminiscent of the hysterical nonsense they publish about “global climate change.”
But that’s another story.
I have already pointed out that Ted Kennedy has a health care agenda that he plans to begin pushing early next year. Yesterday, he reiterated his intentions:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy … told reporters yesterday that he would advance a bill early next year calling for universal health care.
Kennedy plans to reclaim his chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee from which he will launch his initiative.
And it isn’t likely that the President-elect will have much influence on what the final product will look like. I explain why at the American Thinker.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who is a Republican, wants to introduce market-based reforms to save his state’s Medicaid program:
Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday proposed restructuring Louisiana’s health-care program for the poor into a private insurance model that relies on managed-care principles to control costs and improve health outcomes.
And why are these reforms needed?
The state’s Medicaid program … is on an unsustainable financial path. Whereas the program consumed about 8.5 percent of the general fund budget in 2006, it is projected to take up 21 percent by 2011, the governor said.
Jindal’s approach differs pretty dramatically from the Democrat strategy of doing nothing to avert the impending financial meltdown of Medicare.
Maybe we need this guy in Washington.
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