Monday, July 6, 2009

Health care reform explained

"Why do we need President Obama's big-bang health-care reform at all? What's the real agenda here? If it's really to cover the truly uninsured, a much cheaper, targeted, small-ball approach would do the trick. But on the other hand, maybe the real goal is a larger, ultra-liberal plan aimed at a government takeover of the U.S. health system. ... According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we don't have 47 million folks who are truly uninsured. When you take out college kids plus those earning $75,000 or more who choose not to sign up for a health-care plan, roughly 20 million people are removed from the list of uninsured. After that, you can remove the 10 million who are not U.S. citizens and the 11 million who are eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid but for some reason have not signed up for those programs. So that leaves only 10 million to 15 million people among the long-term uninsured. Yes, they need help. And yes, they should get it. But not with mandatory universal coverage, or new government-backed insurance plans, or massive tax increases. And certainly not with the Canadian-European-style nationalization that has always been the true goal of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats. Instead, we can give the truly uninsured vouchers or debit cards that will allow for choice and coverage, and even health savings accounts for retirement wealth. ... Knocking down profits and telling people what to do because government planners know best, right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong." --economist Lawrence Kudlow

(Photo & Quote below From the Patriot Post)
One of Obama's key claims is that "you can keep your plan if you want to." What he means is that the government won't specifically mandate that anyone lose coverage, but the effect of his policies would be to cause many individuals to lose their benefits. America's Health Insurance Plans, the nation's largest trade group for health insurers, warned of "devastating consequences" from a government plan. In a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the lead author of the health care bill, the group said that a public health insurance option "would dismantle employer-based coverage, significantly increase costs for those who remain in private coverage, and add additional liabilities to the federal budget." This is painfully obvious to us, but the power brokers in DC aren't interested in a market-based approach.

In fact, though Democrats claim that the government would compete on a "level playing field" with private insurers, Obama says his plan "is an important tool to discipline insurance companies." As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute says, "The government can subsidize its plan with tax revenue from other taxpayers. The government can enact regulations that favor its plan over other private insurers."

Indeed, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) quipped, "Having the government compete against the private sector is kind of like my seven-year-old daughter's lemonade stand competing against McDonalds."

Straight talk about universal healthcare -Giving you complete coverage on all the dangers of universal healthcare coverage, by William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

The Dems are doing their best to put a positive, humanitarian spin on the idea of universal health care, or what I call "socialized medicine", but the long-term ramifications would be devastating.

They would have you believe that conservatives who are against universal healthcare take this stance because they are mean-spirited and compassionless. Naturally, this isn't the case. And it's hardly how I feel.

I am against universal healthcare because I believe it will create one of the most intrusive government bureaucracies since the Internal Revenue Service, and it will impinge heavily on the individual freedoms of all American citizens.

Obama is attempting to achieve universal healthcare coverage by relying primarily on private insurance.

That's right - he is looking to solve our nation's health care problems by giving control of the system to the insurance companies. Wow.

One of the key misconceptions among Obama supporters is that a universal healthcare system would make healthcare more affordable. What delusional planet is he from? Under socialized medicine, the healthcare system may be perceived as being more fair, but it certainly won't be any cheaper.

A better way to describe the program would be to call it "universal heath insurance." The idea is that by compelling everyone in the nation to participate in the insurance market, you'd cut down on what's known as the "free rider" syndrome. As the term suggests, this would be people getting a "free ride" from the healthcare system by deciding not to get their own health insurance because they've been assured that in the case of an emergency or personal health catastrophe, inexpensive care will be guaranteed to them by the government. The theory is that mandated participation would help to drive down insurance costs.

But any mandate requires an enforcement component. My fear is that a government branch with the kind of power to actually identify and penalize those seeking to avoid the insurance mandates of universal healthcare would be vast and all-powerful. The new healthcare arm of the government would likely have the same kind of power (and loathsome reputation) as the IRS.

I'm all about personal freedom and the rights of individuals. Universal healthcare is not only impractical, but costly - and not just for your pocketbook. It's handing over yet another right to the government, and allowing the government to decide and rule your fate.

I'm not compassionless-I'm just sensible. And universal healthcare as it's being proposed still doesn't make much sense to me.

The disaster of the Massachusetts universal healthcare system should give you a preview of what life under a universal healthcare scheme could be like...

The universal healthcare dam springs a leak

A program of mandated health insurance is already in effect in Massachusetts. Under that system, subsidized insurance is made available to individuals earning up to $30,636 annually, and families of four earning up to $61,956 per year. The state government has begun to impose stiff fines on residents who fail to purchase health insurance - and the penalties can amount to as much as $912 a year!

And this place is already known as "Tax-achusetts!"

Even though this system is in its infancy, it already has many vocal opponents. Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis calls the Massachusetts universal coverage plan "overregulated and largely unworkable." Herrick explains that the least expensive health plan available through the program costs $196 a month, while the state fine for being uninsured is about half that cost -- $98 a month!

After just two years, Massachusetts' universal coverage program is running at a staggering $147 million deficit, and the four insurance carriers who provide the state- subsidized insurance estimated that costs will go up by 14 percent this year.

Even more shocking is the manner in which Massachusetts state officials have decided to deal with the out-of-control costs of their broken system: they've ordered the insurance companies to cut payments to doctors and hospitals, reduce choices for payments, and possibly increase how much patients will have to pay.

I only hope that Americans get a good, long look at the disaster that universal healthcare has wrought on the economy and people of Massachusetts before a similar catastrophe is unleashed on the whole country. The train wreck in New England is headed our way if the democrats get their way.

America: you have been warned.

More Information by Amanda Reinecker from the Heritage Foundation:

"The goal of health care reform is to ensure that everyone has affordable, adequate coverage for basic health care in America, and to do this without digging us deeper into the deficit hole," Heritage Vice President Stuart Butler writes on the New York Times website.

But before any reform is undertaken, we must keep a few key facts in mind. First, taxpayers already fund about 50 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare. Second, taxpayers will end up paying even more if we get government more involved in every part of the health system.

To achieve real reform while avoiding this centralized, bureaucratic micromanagement and increased government spending, Butler recommends health care reformers focus on two priorities:

  1. Fix how health care is taxed. We need to ensure Americans can get tax relief whether they buy insurance through their employer or on the individual market. This reform will allow millions of working families to better afford coverage.
  1. Create markets for insurance. "Create state-based insurance exchanges so that families can pick from a range of plans that meet basic conditions -- with the most immediate focus on families that are not offered coverage by their employers."

Butler cautions against big-government approaches to health care reform. These reforms assume that "if only the government were to organize every part of the health system somehow it would all work well. That kind of central planning doesn't work for national economies and it won't work for the health sector in America, which is as large as most national economies."

President Obama's proposal to create a "public option," a government-run health insurance plan, would be one such big-government offering. During a press conference this week, he acknowledged concerns "that if any public plan is simply being subsidized by taxpayers endlessly, that over time they can't compete with the government just printing money." But acknowledging concerns isn't the same as addressing them.

Heritage's has become a popular resource for fueling the debate -- many experts and concerned citizens are going there instead of the official White House site on health care -- and equipping individuals and legislators with the facts on the costly consequences of big-government health care.

As the debates heat up, Heritage experts like Nina Owcharenko are reminding members of Congress they have a choice. "Either they can support efforts that expand Washington's control of the health care system, or they can allow the states to develop solutions that will transfer direct control of health care dollars and personal health care decisions back to individuals and families. The choice should not be that hard."

More information on Obama's Health Care Plan from: The National Tax Limitation Committee.

Obama describes his health care scheme with the usual pie-in-the-sky rhetoric, claiming - with fingers crossed behind his back - that his approach will heal the sick, miraculously reduce costs, and resurrect a moribund health system.

Obama has already told you that if you want to keep your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor and if you want to keep your present health plan, you'll be able to keep your present health plan.

Specifically, Obama said:

"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away."

But Obama can't keep that promise and he knows it.

Jim Lindgren writing for the Internet blog the Volokh Conspiracy:

"But if the Obama plan is enacted, a substantial portion of employers will cut their health subsidies - raising their employees' share of contributions to the company plan - in order to drive some of the employees into the government exchange and the public option. Other employers may drop their plans altogether - after all, workers could buy their own coverage in the government exchange - or simply fund part of their workers' participation in the exchange. These changes, which would be the direct results of the implementation of the Obama plan, would make it virtually impossible for Obama to keep these promises...."

But will keeping your doctor or your health care provider really matter when government bureaucrats start calling the shots and telling your doctor and provider exactly what they can and cannot do... what they are allowed to treat... what they're allowed to pay.

Make no mistake, Obama's takeover of health care will be nothing more than a raw power grab, more cutting than his takeover of the banks and the automobile industry. Its goal will not be to improve health care but, to reward political allies - and punish people like you.

Let's examine the real repercussions of health care rationing?

Think of it this way, to Obama (and other Statists), people represent health costs. The fewer people, the lower the costs.

Are we saying that Obama will target the elderly, the handicapped and the unborn to reduce costs?

Consider Obama's own words remarks as reprinted in the Washington Times and make that call yourself.

"Part of what I think government can do effectively is to be an honest broker in assessing and evaluating treatment options."

Obama also said:

"The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill...."

Regarding those in the last phases of life, Obama specifically says:

"There is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels."

Obama's top health advisers have emphasized that America should value the lives of young, healthy people more than those of old, sick individuals.

One such adviser is Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel.

Kevin Williamson of National Review Online describes Dr. Emanuel's views:

"He wrote in The Lancet in 2008: 'Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination.' We all were young once, the argument goes, and so denying the elderly and weak in order to care for the young and fit is just."

Just what do you think Obama's talking about here? Trust me, these are scary times and if you're over the age of 55, be very scared. If you're chronically ill with diabetes or high blood pressure or multiple sclerosis - or dying with heart disease or cancer - your future doesn't look very bright.

Would Obama empower the federal government and bureaucratic pencil-pushers to decide exactly when your presence on earth is no longer feasible, viable or sustainable?

Obama claims that his health plan won't involve rationing or reduced care. But that's ridiculous, because all government-run health systems suffer from those drawbacks.

For a real-world, practical example, we only need look at the Canadian system.

Dr. David Gratzer, a Canadian-trained physician who practices in the United States, describes his own revelation about Canada's medical horror show:

"On [my way to medical school class]... I cut through a hospital emergency room and came upon dozens of people on stretchers - waiting, moaning, begging for treatment. Some elderly patients had waited up to five days in corridors before being admitted to beds. They smelled of urine and sweat. As I navigated past the bodies, I began to question everything I thought I knew about health care - not only in Canada, but also in the United States. ... I had begun a journey into the heart of one of the great policy disasters of modern times."

Is the situation really any better in Europe - should we, for instance, emulate the French?

Consider a French journalist's words at the Heritage Foundation:

"The majority of France's state-owned hospitals are managed in a way that is reminiscent of the old U.S.S.R. ... In the average French public hospital, it is not uncommon for every window to be open, even in winter, because the heating system in the building cannot be regulated. With the only options being no heat or unbearably high heat, everyone opts for the latter. Predictably, this is not very cheap."

What about Germany? The British medical journal Lancet states:

"The German health care system is facing bankruptcy on an unprecedented scale."

In Great Britain, one current cost-saving measure is the denial of essential medications to women in advanced stages of certain cancers.

And yet, on June 15, Barack Obama told the American Medical Association (AMA) that other developed countries - he meant nations like Canada, Germany, France, and Britain - pay much less per capita for health care than Americans.

Tell us something we don't know... you also get exactly what you pay for.

So why does Obama want to bring millions of people into the system literally overnight? What happens when there are suddenly many more patients than there are practitioners to care for them?

Will the health care system start to follow the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) model... where you take-a-number.... and wait... and then wait some more?

And if you're really sick, what are the chances that you might die in line, waiting for treatment that simply does not come in time?

Dr. Gratzer tells us what's going on in Canada:

"I trained in emergency rooms that were chronically, chaotically, dangerously overcrowded... all across Canada. I met a middle-aged man with sleep problems who was booked for an appointment with a specialist three years later; a man with pain... who was referred to a pain clinic with a two-year wait list; a woman with breast cancer who was asked to wait for four months before starting the life-saving radiation therapy."

When you consider the evils of health care rationing, consider the following.

Addressing the AMA, Obama implied that costs were rising because patients were getting unneeded care. In fact, the opposite is true.

A 2003 survey by the Rand Corporation found that only 11% of patients got treatments they didn't need - while a whopping 46% failed to receive needed care.

And strangely, there's tremendous irony in Obama's mindless drive toward a government-run system.

In Great Britain, France, Germany - and even Canada - there's a growing push to get people back into private insurance systems, taking the pressure off public facilities and doctors. It's a move toward - you guessed it - government cost savings.
More Information from Newt Gingrich:

President Obama said something at his White House healthcare event last week that offers a disturbing hint of our future under his vision of health reform. He suggested one way to save costs is not to spend on procedures that "evidence shows [are] not necessarily going to improve care" for the sick and the dying. "Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller," the President said. Maybe. But the question is, who decides?

A Bureaucrat's Concern Isn't You, It's the Government's Bottom Line

Who decides if those extra dollars will or will not be spent on your care or the care of someone you love? Under the plan advocated by President Obama and his allies, that someone will be a government bureaucrat. And even if that bureaucrat has the best of intentions, and even if he does his job well - especially if he does his job well - his main concern won't be you or your loved one. His only concern, if he's doing his job right, will be for the government's bottom line. It's his choice, not yours. Surgery costs too much. Make do with the painkiller.

Instead of Figuring Out What Can Be Done,
We're Debating the Government Option

What's most tragic about the health reform options being debated today is that it doesn't have to be this way. I have spent the past six years since founding the Center for Health Transformation [] studying our healthcare system, and finding out what works and what doesn't work. I've spoken to literally thousands of doctors, patients, hospital administrators and other health professionals. There is widespread agreement over steps we could take now to deliver more choices of greater quality at lower cost to every American. But instead of focusing on creating a bipartisan consensus, President Obama and his allies have introduced the Trojan Horse of a "public option" in health reform.

Think Government Will Create a Level Playing Field in Healthcare?
Look at the Auto Industry

Supporters of the public plan option say it would be just one choice among many; a government plan to "compete" with private health insurance plans. But if you think for a moment that the Democratic establishment in Washington is going to create a government healthcare plan that competes on a level playing field with private insurance, just take a look at what they did with the auto industry. They rigged the game. They gave their union allies 55 percent of Chrysler and cheated the retired teachers and police officers who had invested in the company. Then they gave $50 billion in the taxpayers' money to GM to prop it up. Meanwhile, the third of the once-Big Three, Ford, is left to fend for itself. Is that a level playing field?

The Public Option as a Strategy to Achieve Nationalized Healthcare

The main argument for a government option is that private insurance is too expensive. To expand coverage, Americans need an affordable alternative. But in order to offer an affordable alternative, the government has to dramatically underprice private plans. Of course, government, unlike a private company that must meet its budget in order to stay in business, can endlessly subsidize its plan. And the result? Depending on how great the government subsidy, the Lewin Group, a healthcare policy research firm, estimated that as many as 119 million currently insured Americans would drop private coverage and enroll in the government plan. The private insurance market would gradually disappear. And if you think this is an irrational fear, listen to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a supporter of the public option. Rep. Schakowsky proudly says that private insurers "have every reason to be frightened" by a government plan, because it is a "strategy for getting [to a single-payer system], and I believe we will."

So Far, $22 Million Has Been Spent On TV Ads.
And What Do We Have To Show For It?

Americans are justifiably dissatisfied with our healthcare system. Healthcare is too expensive. Millions of Americans can't get health insurance. And too often what we can get doesn't promote better health and doesn't deliver the best possible care. So far, groups on both sides of this debate have spent $22 million on television commercials - more than was spent in the entire battle over Clinton healthcare reform in the 1990s. We're spending lots of money, but the focus on the government plan has kept us from finding agreement in areas where we can make a real difference for Americans.

Democrats and Republicans Can Agree On
Modernizing the System and Ending Healthcare Fraud

There is widespread agreement, for instance, that electronic medical records are the future. President Obama and I both share this view. They will be the primary method of record keeping in the future, and the faster we get to that future the more lives we will save, the more efficient our health system will be and the cheaper it will be. Another area in which Democrats and Republicans should easily be able to find common ground is in fighting healthcare fraud. And if you think this is just tinkering around the edges of healthcare reform, you're wrong. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a doctor, believes that fully one-third of all health spending is wasted on defensive medicine, red tape and outright fraud. In a system that will spend $2.5 trillion this year, that means that more than $800 billion will go to unnecessary, unproductive and fully preventable spending. For more information on how we can improve our healthcare by eliminating fraud, look for my book with Center For Health Transformation Vice President, Director of State Policy Jim Frogue entitled Stop Paying the Crooks: Solutions to End the Fraud That Threatens Your Healthcare due out later this summer.

Command-and-Control Doesn't Work. Competition and Choice Do.

I'm a conservative who believes that America desperately needs real change in our health system. But we will never get to that if we can't get beyond this endless debate over government-run healthcare. The fact is, command-and-control from Washington doesn't work. Competition, choice and individual control will produce the health system we want. To truly bring down costs and expand coverage we need to build a bipartisan agreement focused on four things:
  1. Improving individual health by incentivizing prevention, wellness and early health.

  2. Giving doctors and hospitals incentives to deliver high-quality care through fair and proper payments.

  3. Reforming public programs like Medicare and Medicaid to root out fraud, cut waste and reward quality.

  4. Empowering individuals with the information and financial resources they need to be better, more-informed consumers.
The Center for Health Transformation has developed an approach that will improve individual health, lower costs and deliver the best possible care. Tell your representative that any health reform bill must have these basic principles.
Obama Suggests Health Care Reform Will Mean Rationing for Some, But Admits He Would Pay Out-of-Pocket for His Own Family

During the 90-minute question-and-answer session, which hosts Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson said was attended by 164 people “on the front lines of health care in America,” epilepsy specialist Dr. Orrin Devinsky asked the president one of a few challenging questions. Devinsky asked: “If a national health plan was approved and your family participated, and, President Obama, if your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that reasonably could be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders and major centers, and they said there's another option that you should -- should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions? Or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?”

Obama didn’t answer directly, saying that “(I)f it's my family member, my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.”

But the president questioned whether his now-deceased grandmother should have received her hip replacement while suffering a terminal illness.
Recounting the dilemma, Obama said, “(T)he question was, does she get hip replacement surgery even though she was fragile enough that they weren’t sure how long she would last (or) whether she could get through the surgery.”

“I think families all across America are going through decisions like that all the time,” Obama said.

This was not the first time the president had used his grandmother to illustrate his point on health care. In an April 2008 interview with The New York Times Magazine, Obama suggested much of the cost of health care in America comes from the elderly and those with chronic illness.
“That’s where you get into some very difficult moral issues,” Obama said – specifically considering whether “in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else's aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they're terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question.”

But in the April interview, Obama also admitted that his own grandmother would have gotten the procedure either way.
“I would have paid out-of-pocket for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother,” he said.
Obama's health plan not good enough for his family: "[If] it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care." --Barack Obama **"Oopsie! So ObamaCare for thee, but not for me? Hope and change, baby!" --blogger Ed Morrissey

Chart of Title One of the Kennedy-Dodd Health Reform Bill from AHIP


Anonymous said...

Good points, but a lot to take in at once. I don't think we are getting the true story about "reform." There are too many questions that still need to be answered. This post asks a lot of question and backs everything up:

a red voice said...

Thanks for the link, I've been reading a lot more about HR 3200 the past couple of weeks