[April 28, 2008 @ 11:06 pm] David Catron

A few months ago, I wrote that the outcome of the SCHIP debate portended the demise of health care “reform” as envisioned by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It appears that this reality has finally dawned on congressional Democrats. Per The Hill:

Congressional Democrats are backing away from healthcare reform promises made by their two presidential candidates, saying that even if their party controls the White House and Congress, sweeping change will be difficult.

But what about the grandiose promises of their presidential candidates?

‘We all know there is not enough money to do all this stuff,’ said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a Finance Committee member and an Obama supporter, referring to the presidential candidates’ healthcare plans. ‘What they are doing is … laying out their ambitions.’

What they are actually “laying out,” of course, is BS. Neither Clinton nor Obama really care what they can actually accomplish. They mainly want to keep their credulous supporters on board—-people like the ever-clueless Ezra Klein:

I’ve got some calls out for clarification from the relevant offices. But in general, this articles reads strangely to me … The quotes speak more to the difficulty of the issue than anything else.

Klein is, of course, less interested in “clarification” than in reassurance. He wants someone to tell him that he’s not a dupe. But he, along with the rest of the ironically-styled ”reality-based” cummunity, has been rolled. Health care reform, for Democrats, is a slogan rather than a policy goal.

[April 23, 2008 @ 7:06 am] David Catron

I think I’ll go into the pliers business and open up a franchise in Perfidious Albion. Soon everyone on that benighted isle will need a pair. The Daily Mail reports that half the country can’t find a dentist:

Half the population has received no dental care on the NHS in the last two years.

 So, where do they go for dental care?

Thousands of suffering patients are turning up at hospital emergency departments for treatment because they cannot find an NHS dentist.

And how are the NHS apparatchiks dealing with the problem? Denial!

Access to an NHS dentist has remained broadly stable since the introduction of the new contract.

Uh-huh. Access to NHS dentists is ”stable” in the same way that Yasser Arafat is “stable.” The system was moribund before and it remains at death’s door.

This is the kind of stability that government-run health care provides.

[April 20, 2008 @ 9:12 am] David Catron

A couple of weeks ago I noted that congressional Democrats were working on a plan to effectively kill health savings accounts.  The WSJ reports that the plot continues apace:

This week, the House passed legislation that included a provision to require every HSA transaction be reviewed and verified as a legitimate medical expense … it adds a layer of bureaucracy that could sharply reduce the appeal and cost savings of HSAs.

The Democrat plan is a typically dishonest piece of regulatory skulduggery designed to kill a promising free market innovation before it has a chance to really take root:

The new scheme purports to ensure that money saved tax-free in an HSA is actually used for health expenses. But this is a nonproblem: Any withdrawal from an HSA is already subject to a federal tax audit, just as individual tax returns are.

To discover the true agenda behind this legislative subterfuge, one need only ask which “representative of the people” is behind it:

A key player here is Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, whose main purpose in politics is to give the U.S. a government-run health-care system. He is a known opponent of HSAs.

This legislation will seriously restrict the ability of consumers to control their own money in their own health savings accounts. Sound crazy? Not to Democrats who want to impose government-run health care on the country.

Nothing makes creatures like Pete Stark more uneasy than empowered health care consumers making their own decisions. Congressional Democrats want to kill HSAs before the public figures out how well they work.

[April 17, 2008 @ 10:10 am] David Catron

The credibility of single-payer advocates depends largely on their ability to present the Canadian health care system—-the closest real-world example of the medical delivery model they promote—-as superior to the U.S. system. In order to achieve that goal, however, they need some way of discrediting the stories that constantly appear in the media about the poor quality and long waiting lists to which the Canucks are routinely subjected.

One of the more ironic strategies the single-payer crowd has adopted to discredit these unflattering Press reports is to pretend, contrary to all the evidence, that the U.S. news media are somehow unsympathetic to their cause. They actually have the crust to claim that Canada’s woes have been exaggerated. Thus, we have risible assertions such as the following from that reliably mindless purveyer of the party line, Ezra Klein:

As described by the American press, Canada’s health-care system takes the form of one long queue. The line begins on the westernmost edge of Vancouver, stretches all the way to Ottawa … Sadly for those invested in this odd knock against the Canadian system, the wait times are largely hype.

And these people call themselves “reality-based”? Unfortunately for Ezra and others of his persuasion, it would appear that the Canadian news media are also in on the dark conspiracy to exaggerate the wait times endured by so many Canucks. A couple of weeks ago, The Province reported the following:

A young woman suffering severe abdominal pains spent an excruciating 28 hours at Surrey Memorial Hospital with suspected appendicitis … After arriving at ER, she was given a wait-list wristband without getting a chance to tell nurses what she was there for.

Apparently, the London Free Press is also in on the plot:

The night before her fatal heart attack, Amanda Trujillo spent seven hours in a London hospital emergency room, complaining of a strong pain in her left arm as she waited for a doctor who never came.

The only way for Klein and his fellow travelers to cling to their belief that Canadian health care is superior to ours is to pretend that the facts are not the facts. This is consistent with their habit of producing disingenuous analyses which, as I pointed out last week, is one of the reasons I have such difficulty taking them seriously. As long as they stay in denial about the obvious flaws of Canadian health care, their credibility will remain in the toilet.

[April 14, 2008 @ 6:28 am] David Catron

Last year I wrote a post suggesting that universal health care advocates are such prisoners of their ideology that facts have little or no meaning for them. Well, Paul Krugman has written a column that pretty much proves my case.

He begins by reciting a couple of anecdotes, including the tall tale that got Hillary in hot water recently. He then goes on to demonstrate that mere facts are incidental to the party line, defending the whopper as follows:

It turns out that while some of the details were slightly off … more important, Mrs. Clinton was making a valid point about the state of health care in this country.

No, she wasn’t making a valid point, and the important details of her story weren’t “slightly off.” They were lies deliberately deployed to paint a wildly inaccurate picture of American health care.

People like Mrs. Clinton and Krugman want to convince the public that the “cruelty and injustice” that allegedly pervade U.S. health care can only be corrected by allowing her to absorb the system into the federal collective:

We need universal health care, so that terrible stories like those of Monique White, Trina Bachtel and the thousands of other Americans who die each year from lack of insurance become a thing of the past.

This absurd statement reiterates Clinton’s whoppers about Bachtel, and it ignores the far more numerous horror stories that routinely fill the media in countries that already have ”universal health care.”

As William Safire pointed out more than a decade ago, Hillary is a congenital liar. And the credibility of Clinton lickspittles like Krugman doesn’t rise even to that lofty height.

[April 11, 2008 @ 9:31 am] David Catron

Single-payer advocates are forever producing opinion polls that purport to show how the public or the medical community support some version of nationalized health care.  Invariably, such surveys turn out to have been conducted using tendentious methodology.

Oddly, legitimate surveys using reputable methods always seem to produce different results. A good example is the latest Rasmussen poll. That survey of 1,000 adults shows considerable ambivalence about government-run health care:

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of American adults favor a national health insurance program overseen by the Federal Government … 39% oppose such a government-led initiative while 31% are not sure.

The survey also reveals considerable public concern about the quality and cost of government-run health care:

The survey also found that 46% believe the quality of care would decrease under a national health insurance program while … 42% believe the cost of health care would increase.

The results of  this poll are particularly interesting considering that the electorate has been subjected to incessant propaganda in favor of nationalized health care. It would appear that hoi polloi aren’t quite as dumb as single-payer advocates and the media believe them to be.

[April 10, 2008 @ 4:39 pm] David Catron

The bête noire of the nanny state liberal is the autonomous citizen making her own decisions without interference from the government. Thus, congressional Democrats intend to throttle consumer-driven health care in the cradle. This policy brief from the RSC explains how they plan to do it:

Democrats are considering requiring “substantiation” of all HSA transactions from an independent third party …This oversight of every single account transaction would make HSAs similar to Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs).

What’s so bad about that?

One of the prime differences between the two account-based models lies in the control source for the funds in the account. The Internal Revenue Code makes clear that FSA accounts are held by employers, while HSA funds remain exclusively the property of the employee.

In other words, the Democrat plan would seriously restrict the ability of consumers to control the money in their own health savings accounts. An HSA modeled on the FSA would require that the patient pay for a covered service, then go hat-in-hand to the plan administrator for reimbursement—-from her own money.

Obviously, very few sensible people will be willing to participate in such an idiotic scheme, and this is precisely what the Democrats want. Nothing makes them more nervous than empowered health care consumers making their own decisions. Such people might learn that they don’t need the nanny state.

[April 7, 2008 @ 2:42 pm] David Catron

We are always being told by the socialized medicine crowd that Americans are uniquely dissatisfied with our health care and that a government-run system would fix that. Well, Great Britain’s patients evidently didn’t get the memo. Per the Telegraph:

A growing number of NHS complaints are being upheld amid falling nursing standards and rushed GP appointments, according to a report published today.

Nursing care complaints included the following:

Patients reported that they did not receive regular baths or showers and, in some cases, were left for hours in soiled bedding or clothes … In some cases call bells were left out of reach and elderly patients were not given help with eating.

The GP complaints were primarily related to the physician shortage. Britain’s sparce supply of GPs are overloaded, with following results:

Complaints over GPs included claims that they were too busy to spend enough time with patients … More than 20 per cent of those who complained about GP service said that the diagnosis of their illness had been incorrect or delayed because of the lack of time. Most of these cases involved the eventual diagnosis of cancer.

So, I’ll ask the question again: If, in addition to producing poor medical results,  government-run health care also fails the patient-satisfaction test, why should we implement such a system in the U.S.?

[April 4, 2008 @ 10:04 pm] David Gratzer
[April 2, 2008 @ 9:54 pm] David Catron

Another day, another phony survey. Most doctors favor socialized medicine according to a report from Reuters:

Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program.

Seem counterintuitive? It should. The lead author of this “survey” is Aaron E. Carroll, a single-payer zealot on the Board of the activist group “Physicians for a National Health Program.”

This guy routinely produces “studies” and “surveys” that somehow always show that Americans in general and the medical community in particular want government-run health care. Here’s a typical passage from one of his articles:

Medicare-for-all could save enough on administrative waste ($350 billion) to cover all the 47 million uninsured and improve coverage for everyone else.

This character obviously has an ax to grind, and the PNHP crowd is notorious for producing tendentious studies. This one is particularly suspect because its basic claim is preposterous on its face.

Think about it: There are about 800,000 physicians in the U.S. and this guy claims 59% of them (472K) support a nationalized health care system. If this is true, why does PNHP only have 14,000 (less than 2%) members?

Yet there will be no shortage of gullible people to buy Dr. Carroll’s snake oil in the belief that it contains a cure for the ills of U.S. health care. Sorry, folks, this “survey” is obviously BS and should be relegated to the circular file. 

[April 1, 2008 @ 8:51 am] David Gratzer

Should people be forced to buy health insurance, even if they feel they don’t need it?


Senators Clinton and Obama have taken opposing positions on this question, with much hot rhetoric exchanged between them.  Senator Clinton may not win the nomination, but seems to be on the winning side of the argument – the idea has caught the imagination of state politicians from New Jersey to Colorado.



Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Paul Howard and I weigh in, with a City Journal essay (reprinted in yesterday’s Investor’s Business Daily and featured on Real Clear Politics).