Posts Tagged ‘Health Care’

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How to Stop Socialized Health Care

June 15, 2009
How to Stop Socialized Health Care
Five arguments Republicans must make.
By KARL ROVE
It was a sobering breakfast with one of the smartest Republicans on Capitol Hill. We can fix a lot of bad stuff President Barack Obama might do, he told me. But if Mr. Obama signs into law a “public option,” government-run insurance program as part of health-care reform we won’t be able to undo the damage.
I’d go the Republican member of Congress one further: If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state. To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments Republicans must make.
The first is it’s unnecessary. Advocates say a government-run insurance program is needed to provide competition for private health insurance. But 1,300 companies sell health insurance plans. That’s competition enough. The results of robust private competition to provide the Medicare drug benefit underscore this. When it was approved, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost $74 billion a year by 2008. Nearly 100 providers deliver the drug benefit, competing on better benefits, more choices, and lower prices. So the actual cost was $44 billion in 2008 — nearly 41% less than predicted. No government plan was needed to guarantee competition’s benefits.
Second, a public option will undercut private insurers and pass the tab to taxpayers and health providers just as it does in existing government-run programs. For example, Medicare pays hospitals 71% and doctors 81% of what private insurers pay.
Who covers the rest? Government passes the bill for the outstanding balance to providers and families not covered by government programs. This cost-shifting amounts to a forced subsidy. Families pay about $1,800 more a year for someone else’s health care as a result, according to a recent study by Milliman Inc. It’s also why many doctors limit how many Medicare patients they take: They can afford only so much charity care.
Fixing prices at less than market rates will continue under any public option. Sen. Edward Kennedy’s proposal, for example, has Washington paying providers what Medicare does plus 10%. That will lead to health providers offering less care.
Third, government-run health insurance would crater the private insurance market, forcing most Americans onto the government plan. The Lewin Group estimates 70% of people with private insurance — 120 million
Americans — will quickly lose what they now get from private companies and be forced onto the government-run rolls as businesses decide it is more cost-effective for them to drop coverage. They’d be happy to shift some of the expense — and all of the administration headaches — to Washington. And once the private insurance market has been dismantled it will be gone.
Fourth, the public option is far too expensive. The cost of Medicare — the purest form of a government-run “public choice” for seniors — will start exceeding its payroll-tax “trust fund” in 2017. The Obama administration estimates its health reforms will cost as much as $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. It is no coincidence the Obama budget nearly triples the national debt over that same period.
Medicare and Medicaid cost much more than estimated when they were adopted. One reason is there’s no competition for these government-run insurance programs. In the same way, Americans can expect a public option to cost far more than the Obama administration’s rosy estimates.
Fifth, the public option puts government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors. If you think insurance companies are bad, imagine what happens when government is the insurance carrier, with little or no competition and no concern you’ll change to another company.
In other words, the public option is just phony. It’s a bait-and-switch tactic meant to reassure people that the president’s goals are less radical than they are. Mr. Obama’s real aim, as some candid Democrats admit, is a single-payer, government-run health-care system.
Health care desperately needs far-reaching reforms that put patients and their doctors in charge, bring the benefits of competition and market forces to bear, and ensure access to affordable and portable health care for every American. Republicans have plans to achieve this, and they must make their case for reform in every available forum.
Defeating the public option should be a top priority for the GOP this year. Otherwise, our nation will be changed in damaging ways almost impossible to reverse.
Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

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Cartoon: The Obama Health Care Plan

June 2, 2009

obama health care plan

 

From IBD

2 June 09

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Tales From Health Care Crypts

March 5, 2009

Tales From Health Care Crypts

By WALTER E. WILLIAMS | IBD 5 March 2009

Government health care advocates used to sing the praises of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). That’s until its poor delivery of health care services became known.

A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, “Delay, Denial and Dilution,” written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world.

The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care.

Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash.

Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long that there are now “waiting lists” for the waiting list.

Government health care advocates sing the praises of Canada’s single-payer system. Canada’s government system isn’t that different from Britain’s.

For example, after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks.

Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless.

Canadians have an option Britainers don’t: close proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends over $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country. I wonder how much money the U.S. government spends for Americans to be treated in Canada.

“OK, Williams,” you say, “Sweden is the world’s socialist wonder.” Sven R. Larson tells about some of Sweden’s problems in “Lesson from Sweden’s Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt,” published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Spring 2008).

Mr. D., a Gothenburg multiple sclerosis patient, was prescribed a new drug. His doctor’s request was denied because the drug was 33% more expensive than the older medicine. Mr. D. offered to pay for the medicine himself but was prevented from doing so. The bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.

Malmo, with its 280,000 residents, is Sweden’s third-largest city. To see a physician, a patient must go to one of two local clinics before they can see a specialist. The clinics have security guards to keep patients from getting unruly as they wait hours to see a doctor. The guards also prevent new patients from entering the clinic when the waiting room is considered full.

Uppsala, a city with 200,000 people, has only one specialist in mammography. Sweden’s National Cancer Foundation reports that in a few years most Swedish women will not have access to mammography.

Dr. Olle Stendahl, a professor of medicine at Linkoping University, pointed out a side effect of government-run medicine: its impact on innovation.

“In our budget-government health care there is no room for curious, young physicians and other professionals to challenge established views,” he said. “New knowledge is not attractive but typically considered a problem (that brings) increased costs and disturbances in today’s slimmed-down health care.”

These are just a few of the problems of Sweden’s single-payer government-run health care system. I wonder how many Americans would like a system that would, as in the case of Mr. D. of Gothenburg, prohibit private purchase of your own medicine if the government refused paying.

We have problems in our health care system, but most of them are a result of too much government. Over 50% of health care expenditures in our country are made by government. Government health care advocates might say that they will avoid the horrors of other government-run systems. Don’t believe them.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which published Sven Larson’s paper, is a group of liberty-oriented doctors and health care practitioners who haven’t sold their members down the socialist river as have other medical associations. They deserve our thanks for being a major player in the ’90s defeat of “Hillarycare.”

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Stealth Care

March 5, 2009

Stealth Care

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Spending: The stimulus provides for the creation of a federal health care bureaucracy not unlike Hillarycare. Decisions that should be made by doctors and patients will belong to bureaucrats deciding cost-effectiveness.


IBD Exclusive Series: Inside The Stimulus


The stimulus bill commits $19 billion to accelerate adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) systems by doctors and hospitals. It involves the creation of electronic medical records to be stored in a central database. This is said to be for reducing treatment errors and increasing efficiency in the delivery of medical care.

It also authorizes the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology — and the appointment of a 15-member board of officials from federal agencies and others — charged with developing this nationwide health information database

It further creates an entity called the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which will decide which treatments you should get, whether you should get them, and whether they should even be available. It is modeled after a British board which helps run the notoriously inefficient and bureaucratic National Health Service.

These agencies will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is caring for you in a way the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective. Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost-effectiveness standard that would lead to health care rationing. It would determine what medical care should be provided and who should get it.

The U.K. board approves or rejects treatments after dividing the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is expected to benefit. Such a formula is found on page 464 of the stimulus bill.

Under these formulas, younger patients likely get treatment for whatever ails them before granny can get her hip replacement. In 2005, the Orwellian-named British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence proposed that the National Health Service use age as a measurement of a patient’s worthiness for treatment.

In 2006, for example, a U.K board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other. After all, how many years would they be needing two good eyes?

The system that will store everyone’s medical records electronically, which was supposed to make health care delivery more efficient, will make it more subservient to government whim by providing a system to monitor doctors’ treatment.

Medical treatments should be determined by doctors and patients and not by a bureaucracy that will ration your health care, deciding whether you really need it and are really worth it.