American Elephants

Out on the Campaign Trail, Trying to Sell a Bill that Is Already Law. by The Elephant's Child

Now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been signed into law, President Obama has been out on the campaign trail, trying to sell it to an angry populace.  In Charlotte, North Carolina,  Doris Ravis asked him: “In the economy times that we have now, is it a wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care?  Because it — we are over-taxed as it is.”

The president has a fondness for lists:

Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have.  Here’s the bottom line:  Number one is that we are the only — we have been up until last week the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance, and the vast majority of those folks work.  It’s just that they don’t happen to work for a company that is either big enough or generous enough to provide them any coverage.

The president just said that Ms. Ravis’ question was “misapprehension.” But there is another “misapprehension” here.  “We are the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance”

This statement, which turns everything on its head, has been the big excuse behind the drive to redistribute income, which is the true goal.  The idea that we are somehow behind countries that have universal health care simply doesn’t hold water.  Obama keeps implying that anyone who doesn’t have health insurance (and the number was never 50 million, we are only pretending to force 32 million to buy insurance) is going to die as a result.

American health care has been the finest in the world.  It is expensive because of 300 million people’s individual decisions.  We have chosen to see a specialist, get the test the doctor recommends.  And to make sure that there is a safety net, as a country, we have made a law that no one can be turned away from an emergency room.  The only place in our health care system where people are forced to do without needed medical care is in the government-run Indian Health Care Service and in the VA. The failures of our health care system can be laid at the doorstep of government regulation.

Socialized medicine does not work in those “advanced” countries with universal health care. Governments tinker constantly, trying to reduce costs. All are in crisis of varying degrees.  And we need to pay close attention to the failures, because health care doesn’t matter much when you are perfectly well, it matters when you desperately need it.

Point Number Three is attack the insurance companies .  You may think you’re covered, but then when you get sick they decide to drop the insurance right when you need it.  It has been the law for years that insurance companies cannot do any such thing.  Obama’s assumption that people are too dumb to grasp this is insulting. He always likes to throw in “going bankrupt and losing your house.” This is pure demagoguery.

“Because the costs are so out of control, all the programs that we already have — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program — all those things are completely out of control.  Above all, costs are out of control because of waste, fraud and abuse — estimated as high as $10 billion.  And there is nothing in the bill that will reduce that fraud.

Then he started a new list at number one:  “Most people individually shouldn’t buy health insurance on their own because they have no leverage and the insurance companies take advantage of it.  Instead what we’re going to do is we’re going to set up a big pool, a marketplace, that allows everybody to buy into this pool — that members of Congress, will be a part of so that you know it’s going to be a good deal — because members of Congress, they’ve got to look out for their own families; they wouldn’t vote for it if it wasn’t going to be a good deal.”

That’s when I gave up.  I don’t know when they amended the bill to take out the exclusion written in for Congress and key staffers.  I suspect that it hasn’t happened, for it would be pretty big news.  I would urge you to read this whole speech  for yourself.  All hopey-changey, say anything that you think the suckers will swallow.  The extent to which the president will go in trying to sell his bill is depressing.  They must be really worried that we will repeal it.

One more: ” We’re going to start encouraging paying doctors not based on how many tests they take, but based on the quality of the outcome — does somebody end up healthy.”  Wow!  I’ve never heard of a doctor being paid based on how many tests they order.  The tests are usually done by a variety of laboratories, who are reimbursed for their work.  And most tests are designed to help a doctor diagnose the state of your health.  And they’re going to save money because you won’t get a test from your doctor, the same test from the specialist. Nonsense. My doctors, at least,  fax test results, have x-rays hand carried.  Nobody repeats the same test.

Ms. Ravis got a 17-minute, 2,500-word response to her question, all over the map, and she never got an answer.

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