Now, post-summit, more than ever.
The true reality of last week’s health care summit, what was really going on between the lines, was ugly and scary. I have been deeply involved in these health care debates for almost 30 years, ever since I co-authored the first paper published on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) with John Goodman in 1981. What the health summit made clear to me is that the Democrats do not understand what the Republicans are talking about on health care. Indeed, they have no idea what the American people are talking about either, or why growing majorities of us oppose what they are trying to do.
But it gets even worse. The health summit made clear that the Democrats do not understand what they themselves are doing on health care. They have been misled and manipulated by left-wing ideologues.
Why Your Life Is At Risk
Let me reveal my personal stake in this health care debate. My life is at risk. So is yours, as well as the lives of our children, our parents, and everyone else in our families. For the thorough government takeover of health care in America the Democrats are feverishly pursuing, and the outdated socialized medicine policies from other countries they are so religiously committed to adopting, would trash the very ability of the system to provide the health care many of us are likely to need in coming years to extend our lives, and to maintain our basic quality of life.
The decimation of our health care system under Obamacare begins with government mandates, regulations, bureaucracies, and controls. The House and Senate health care bills that President Obama and the Democrats refuse to take off the table create close to 100 new health care bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs. This is the government takeover of health care.
These new authorities arrogate to the government the power to decide “what works” in health care, and what doesn’t. The code words they use include “best practices” — a government bureaucracy in Washington is going to decide what are the “best practices” in providing health care for you and your children, not you and your doctor. Another code phrase is “reward doctors for quality not quantity.” Government bureaucracies in Washington do not know how to do this. But they will make a huge mess out of your health care in trying to.
These government bureaucracies will also have the power to cut off your health care when they decide it is no longer worth the money. We have already seen a glimpse of this in the declaration by a bureaucracy, to be expanded with more powers under Obamacare, that women over 72 should not have mammograms. What they are saying here is that if you are over 72 and get breast cancer, they don’t want to know about it. Just take the painkiller and go home, to paraphrase President Obama. They believe they can buy more votes taking the money for your care and spending it somewhere else. This is called “cost effectiveness.”
The destruction of the health care system is then expanded through the payment system. Among the code words here are “pay for performance” and “accountable care.” This is how the bureaucracy will enforce its dictates concerning what works and what doesn’t, best practices, cost effectiveness, and termination of health care no longer deemed worthy. Doctors and hospitals will be rewarded through payments if they follow the centralized bureaucracy’s dictates; they will be penalized with reduced payments if they don’t. You will never know what happened to you. The doctor is not going to tell you, “I could have saved your daughter’s life with this new treatment, but that is not yet a best practice according to the government.”
Health care obliteration then continues by constricting the payments overall to doctors, hospitals, specialists, surgeons, health care innovators, and other health providers. This is where the $500 billion in Medicare cuts come in, which is $800 billion in the first 10 years of full implementation under Obamacare. Seniors will soon find out that constricted payments mean constricted services, because President Obama has already begun cutting payments under Medicare, particularly for cancer and heart specialists, treatments, and diagnostics. But this is just part of the constricted payments to the entire health system under Obamacare, which is how President Obama thinks he will bring the cost curve down. The sad truth is that the only cost control in Obamacare involves health care rationing, which means denying you health care. Those union orchestrated sad sacks marching in the streets chanting for “health care” are suckers.
The final component ultimately leaving us with Potemkin Village health care is the effect of all of this on investment incentives. Nobody is going to invest the capital necessary to develop the new, life-saving health care treatments and technologies and miracle cure drugs, and build the new facilities and purchase the new equipment to provide them, with the constricted payments of Obamacare as their reward. That money will instead join the capital fleeing to build new factories providing good jobs in the increasingly booming economies of Brazil, India, and China.
We can begin to see these effects of Obamacare in Massachusetts, which adopted some of the Obamacare policies a few years ago. As John Goodman writes in his Health Alert (“Scaling the Summit”) for February 26, “As a result, the waiting times to see a new doctor in Boston are twice as long as in any other U.S. city. And there are still as many people going to emergency rooms for care in Massachusetts today as there were before the Massachusetts health plan was adopted.”
But none of the supporters of Obamacare — the bloggers, the talk show hosts, the literal clowns like Bill Maher, Jon Stewart and Wanda Sykes that now get media coverage to lecture us on public policy — understand any of this. They have their heads firmly and deeply stuck in the sand, and insist it is all made up. And as for Democrat members of Congress, they don’t have a clue.
Fighting for Their Lives
But when their own lives are at risk, suddenly they can understand it quite well. Consider the case of Danny Williams, age 60, Premier of Newfoundland, Canada, who secretly snuck into the U.S. for his own heart surgery. After his surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Williams told reporters, “This was my heart, my choice, and my health. I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.”
Why Williams felt he had to come to America was further illuminated by the recent heart surgery of former President Bill Clinton. As Dr. Marc Siegel explained in the New York Post,
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