In the end, patient power will win out over government power. Or we start learning Greek.
In 1992, the Cato Institute published the book Patient Power, by John Goodman. That book proposed sweeping, fundamental reforms to maximize patient power and control over their own health care. Goodman, myself, and many others have worked on implementing such reforms ever since, with some substantial success over the years.
Last weekend, the ultra-left President Obama, the far-left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the easily confused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led enactment of just the opposite. We could rightly call it Government Power. Anyone who doesn’t understand that it is a complete government takeover of health care is not living in the real world.
Gain Health Coverage, Lose Health Care
The most severe problem in the bill is that while it tries, but fails, to extend health insurance coverage to everyone, in the process it trashes the ability of the health care system to provide the highest quality, most advanced health care to the sickest and most in need of such care. This includes those suffering with cancer or heart disease, senior citizens, highly vulnerable premature babies, the disabled, and others.
Reflecting the thorough government takeover of health care, the bill creates close to 100 new government bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs with the power together to tell doctors and hospitals what health care they can and should provide, what are supposedly the “best practices” for treating specific illnesses and conditions, what works in health care and what doesn’t through the concept of “comparative effectiveness,” even who should and shouldn’t receive what health care through the concept of “cost effectiveness.”
You and your doctors should be making all of these decisions together, based on the medical studies and knowledge of your doctors. A faraway federal bureaucracy in Washington that doesn’t even know you doesn’t, won’t and can’t have the information necessary to make these judgments, nor the same interest in your well being as you and your doctor. Medical care must be provided on a case-by-case basis depending on your specific condition and the care you need, not through uniform rules for everyone made by central planning bureaucracies in Washington that will always be behind the latest developments. Moreover, the government should not even be involved in making decisions as to who gets what health care and when, and even who lives and who dies. That is not liberalism, it is fascism.
The government then enforces these central planning dictates under Obamacare through the payment system for doctors, hospitals, specialists, surgeons, drug companies, medical technology manufacturers, and others, through such concepts as “pay for performance,” sharply limited “global budgets,” and “accountable care.” Those who follow the dictates get paid the best, those that don’t don’t. The enacted legislation even includes a provision that penalizes with lower payments the top 10% of doctors who spend the most in Medicare funds in referring their patients to specialists, giving them a powerful incentive contrary to the interests of their patients. New, advanced, innovative medical technology is also disfavored. All of this again involves still more government takeover and control of health care.
The health care system will then be further trashed by constricting the overall resources flowing into it for payments for health services, treatments, and care. This is reflected in the severe Medicare cuts in the enacted legislation, and whatever is adopted in Medicare will soon be adopted throughout the entire health care system. President Obama crisscrossed the nation proclaiming that his massive new socialized medicine entitlement would actually reduce the deficit as scored by CBO, by close to $100 billion over the first 10 years, and close to a trillion over the second 10 years. But scouring through CBO and House and Senate Budget Committee documents reveals that this ballyhooed CBO score is based first on a 21% cut in payments to doctors and hospitals under Medicare, growing to $2 trillion in Medicare cuts over the second 10 years. The legislation even raids Social Security to reduce the deficit as scored by CBO.
As Dick Morris explains on his website, such Medicare cuts would create havoc and chaos in health care for seniors. Doctors, hospitals, surgeons and specialists providing critical care to the elderly such as surgery for hip and knee replacements, sophisticated diagnostics through MRIs and CT scans, and even treatment for cancer and heart disease will just shut down and disappear in much of the country, and others will just stop serving Medicare patients. If the government is not going to pay, then seniors are not going to get the health services, treatment and care they expect. Yet, there was the spectacle of the President, and fellow Democrats, touting fantasy deficit reductions all across America, without mentioning that they result from assumed Medicare cuts totaling $2.5 trillion over the next 20 years.
If the ruling Democrats back off from these cuts trashing Medicare, then the deficits soar, by at least $500 billion in the first decade, and a trillion in the second decade. In truth, the costs of all the entitlement promises of Obamacare will turn out to be at least 2 to 3 times current estimates, resulting in even higher deficits and debt.
Finally, all of this trashes the critical incentives for investment in development of new medical innovations, life-saving, miracle-cure drugs, and new technologies based on the latest developments in medical science. With today’s latest pacemakers, your doctors can monitor your heart online, and even call to alert you to go for immediate care when a heart attack is imminent. Such modern advances cost a lot of money to develop. But who is going to undertake the necessary investment when adequate compensation is doubtful under Obamacare? Who is going to invest in expanding or even maintaining hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities under these conditions?
The proof is in the pudding. When the Premier of Newfoundland, Canada needed heart surgery, he said, “This [is] 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.”
He went to find that best possible health care in Miami, rather than in the Canadian “single payer” health system so beloved by our foggy minded, starry eyed socialists. When their own lives are on the line, suddenly they are clear eyed and understand.
Health Costs in the Age of Aquarius
The thorough government takeover of health care continues with the individual mandate forcing you by law to buy the health insurance plan the government insists you must buy. The penalty for not complying is now a new 2% income tax, with a minimum of $1,000 per couple. If you don’t pay the penalty, then you go to jail. During the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised,
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?
H/T to National Review Online