American Elephants


Scare Tactics? No, Real Life Evidence, Scary As It Is. by The Elephant's Child
August 6, 2009, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, Health Care | Tags: , , ,

In 2006, the State of Massachusetts adopted a health care plan that required every resident to get health insurance and required every business to provide it.  Otherwise, residents and employers would be fined.  This was the nation’s first state universal health insurance program.  It was to be the test ground to see how universal health coverage by the government would work here in the United States.  It was to be the model that could be replicated around the country.

Within weeks of the deadline to have everyone signed up, the state hadn’t accurately budgeted for the program. 95 percent of doctors weren’t accepting new patients.  Many doctors were leaving the state.  Rationing of services, reductions in benefits and growing waits for care began.  To keep the program solvent, Massachusetts cut payments to doctors and hospitals, reduced choices for patients, and was looking at increasing out-of-pocket expenses for patients.

By February of 2008, the state was asking the Federal government for help.  Only two years old, and already in trouble.

With the national health care debate now heating up, the obvious question is ‘what can we learn from the Massachusetts experiment?  The state treasurer says “Whatever you do, don’t do what we did.”

State treasurer Tim Cahill offered some startling statistics:

  • The program has so far cost 30 percent more than anticipated.  It already has a $9 billion shortfall projected over the nest two years.
  • Costs have risen 41 percent since the program’s inception, well outpacing the rise in healthcare costs nationwide, which stands at 18 percent.
  • We thought the program would mean that fewer people would go to hospitals, the highest costs that insurance plans have to pay.  That wasn’t true.
  • A Harvard study shows that 60 percent of residents are unhappy with the plan.  The unhappiest are those making $25,000 to $50,000 –those whom it should be helping the most.
  • To cut costs, the program has kicked out 30,000 legal immigrants.

Costs for Commonwealth Care (the subsidized program) soared from $158 million in the first year to $630 million in 2007, then doubled in 2009 to $1.3 billion.  Enrollment is now at 181,000 up from 165,000 in the early spring, and is expected to reach 212,000 next year.

Government managed health care has consistently failed.  The Indian Health Service — jokes say that if you get sick, do it before June, for that’s when they run out of money.  The VA has improved some, but much care is still substandard according to those who rely on it.  Hawaii flirted briefly with universal children’s insurance, and quickly dropped it as it was proving far too expensive. In 1994 Tennessee implemented managed care in its Medicaid program, with a system called TennCare.  They thought they would use the anticipated savings from Medicaid to fund and expand coverage for children and the uninsured.  It nearly bankrupted the state, reduced the quality of care and collapsed from it own deficiencies.

A government cannot promise to insure everyone, offer free care,  increase the quality of care and reduce costs.  It cannot happen.  It is a fantasy.

Fantasies work fine in the movies and in novels, but indulging in fantasy in real life can have real-life consequences.



Is It True What They Say About Healthcare? No it Isn’t! by The Elephant's Child

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If you are listening to Congressional Democrat claims, or the claims of the administration: No, it’s not true.

The House Democrats unveiled their plan on July 14, with the aim of passing it by July 31, the last day before their August congressional recess.  There had been months of vague claims, but despite promises of “transparency” all legislation was drummed up behind closed doors.  The bills were introduced as close as possible to the date of the expected vote.  The majority wanted to minimize the time available to actually read and consider the bills, so there would be little time for debate, and perhaps the momentum would be enough to carry it through.

Things have not gone as intended.  The public is concerned, with much justification.  The Democrats want to spend $1.5 trillion over a decade, impose an $800 billion tax increase during the worst recession in many years, increase federal borrowing by at least $239 billion (added to the $11 trillion that the Obama budget already imposes on us). Taxing “the rich” will not raise enough money, so the language on not taxing the middle class is becoming increasingly squishy.

In making his case for a government takeover of the U.S. health care system, President Obama has made a number of frequently repeated pledges:

“If you like your current health-care plan, you can keep it.” White House spokesmen say that this pledge” isn’t meant to be taken literally.”  Most Americans will be forced to change insurance plans.  House bill, page 145, Line 15-17, An employer MUST automatically enroll employees into a public option.  No choice.   Page 149, Lines 16-24, ANY employer with a payroll $400,000 and above who doesn’t provide the public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.  Page 150, Lines 9-13, A business with a payroll between $251,000-$400,000 pays a 2-6% tax on all payroll.

“You will pay less.The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that the “reform” plans now being debated will significantly increase overall health-care costs. Nancy Pelosi said “We will have a cap on costs, but we will have no cap on benefits.”  Page 50, Section 152 in House health care bill,  health care will be provided to all non U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise.  You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and ‘free’ care for all. Simply doesn’t work.

The Director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that none of the health plans coming from Capitol Hill would control long-term spending.  The administration’s latest money-saving proposal of a “Independent Medicare Advisory Council” has already been turned down by the CBO as increasing Medicare spending instead.  Obama’s had a bad week.

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal said “After his TV appearances [White House Budget Director Peter Orzag] went straight to the Senate Finance Committee, where he spent three hours with committee aides brainstorming about how to pay for the trillion dollar legislation.  At one point, they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas. (Now there’s a statement to give you pause).

“Quality Will Improve.” How could any sentient being think that this mess of mandates, and commissions, councils, offices, departments. corps, programs and boards will make health care improve?  We have the highest quality health care in the world. 85 percent of Americans are quite satisfied with their health insurance.

Putting more decisions in the hands of Dr. Eziekel Emanuel (Rham Emanuel’s brother) who has been advising Congress?  Dr. Emanuel has written that he favors rationing for older Americans,  favors abolishing the Hippocratic Oath,  thinks private rooms should be abolished, and hates fancy waiting rooms. For him the way to cut Medicare costs is simply to pay doctors and hospitals less. The only problem is that many doctors will not accept Medicare patients now because they cannot afford to. Seniors will have an increasingly harder time finding a doctor.

Our survival rates for cancers are better, our patients are happier.  Our health care costs are not “spiraling out of control”, but have risen very much in line with the rest of the world.  We have some people who do not have health insurance, but far fewer than the Democrats claim. It’s probably somewhere around 1o million, not the 45.7 million claimed, and a good percentage have just chosen not to buy insurance because they are young and healthy.

The costs of emergency room treatment are not excessive.  There is nothing whatsoever in the House Democrats health care plan that will improve quality in any way.

What you will lose is your freedom.  Your freedom will be served up to members of Congress who will meddle constantly, while not participating in the health care plan they’re sticking us with.  If you plan on getting old, old age will be less comfortable because Democrats have found one way to cut costs.  The last years of life cost the most.  The remedy is just to ration the care.  Over 65, if it’s expensive, forget it.  If you are young and healthy this will be of no concern to you unless you have parents and grandparents, or plan on getting old yourself.  Since proposed cuts in elder care will not pay for the plan, there will be more cuts and more rationing.




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