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.”
+ May 2009
+ May 2008
+ May 2007