An American plan to help the uninsured, restore Medicare’s fiscal soundness, and preserve medical excellence.
The health proposals taking shape in the nation’s capital intend to do more than help the uninsured. The changes will affect everyone. Politicians have promised that if you like your health plan, you can keep it. That may be true, but when you’re sick and need care, you’ll get a lower standard of care.
President Barack Obama called on health industry leaders to cut the rate of growth in national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year. Curbing medical spending will force cuts in hospital budgets, spread nurses even thinner, and reduce the number of diagnostic machines available, causing waits for treatment. Slowing the flow of dollars into healthcare will also depress the largest growth industry in the U.S. (17 percent of GDP) and cause layoffs. Healthcare currently employs 14 million people, more than ten times the U.S. workforce at General Motors and Chrysler.
In his weekly radio address June 6, the President claimed “skyrocketing costs” were making it impossible for families to afford health care. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was right on message, warning a women’s group about the same “skyrocketing costs.” Senators Edward Kennedy and Max Baucus, chairmen of two committees drafting proposals, warned that soaring health spending threatens the stability of American families and the economy.
These doomsday scenarios are untrue. Health care spending is increasing at more moderate rates than in previous decades. Spending increased 10.5 percent in 1970, 13 percent in 1980, and consistently less than 7 percent in each of the last five years, reaching a low of 6.1 percent a year ago (see chart 1).
Americans Can Afford Excellent Healthcare
Each year since 1960, food and energy together have taken up a declining share of Americans’ expenditures, while housing has taken up a steady share. This has enabled Americans to spend an increasing share of their budgets on another necessity, health care. These four necessities together consume the same share of Americans’ spending now (55 percent) as they did in 1960 (53 percent). As further evidence, Americans are increasing the share of their spending that goes to recreation.
Of course, averages don’t tell the whole story, and families who can’t afford health insurance should be helped. The poorest Americans are already eligible for Medicaid and other government programs. As you will read later in this article, moderate income families can be helped to buy health coverage with vouchers, refundable tax credits, or debit cards. That’s a low risk, “fix what’s broken” approach.
On June 1, the president’s Council of Economic Advisors released a report calling for Americans to cut back on health care. The report pointed to the skimpier health-care consumption in Europe and urged Americans to copy it. But the truth is, Americans can afford better health care than Europeans. Ninety percent of the difference in per capita health-care spending between Europe and the U.S. is due to higher incomes in the U.S. Wealth, not waste, accounts for the difference. What Americans cannot afford is a health-care overhaul based on bad information.
President Obama’s health advisors are telling us we cannot afford our current standard of care. They have a different agenda.
A Lower Level of Care
Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard professor and key health advisor to President Obama, agrees that “the more people have, the more of it they tend to spend on healthcare.” But the problem he sees is that as a nation’s wealth increases and standards of medical care become higher and more costly, the lowest income groups get priced out. In his extensive academic writings, Blumenthal argued that government controls are needed to push down healthcare costs (and by inference, standard of care) to a level that everyone, including the poor, can afford, or to what government can afford to provide to everyone equally. The goal is not only universal coverage but also a similar healthcare experience for everyone, regardless of ability to pay (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?