American Elephants

The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight! by The Elephant's Child


The members of the gang who constructed ObamaCare in the back rooms of Congress, do-gooders all, were anxious to see that ObamaCare made the people healthier. Problem — obesity. Lots of people were too fat. (Nevermind that overweight people are apt to live longer) The obvious solution was to tell the people how many calories the food they were eating contained. (Nevermind that there is no evidence that calorie labeling is effective in combating obesity. Multiple studies have shown that this simply is not the case. A study in Philadelphia showed that the regulation had no effect whatsoever on fast food consumption, and most people didn’t even notice the labels in McDonald’s.)

Common sense would indicate that pizzas, burritos and sandwiches are apt to have choices of many ingredients, each one of which requires a calorie count, that can be ordered in many combinations (hold the olives).

Although the law is designed to target corporate fast-food giants, in practice it will largely affect individual franchises that effectively operate as independent small businesses. For example, over 80 percent of McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by franchisees. Each of these franchisees will now be tasked with complying with the mandate–paying for new signage, removing profit-generating advertisements to make room for the calorie data, updating menus every time recipes change, and accommodating inspectors.  Furthermore, it’s unclear what penalties restaurateurs will face if they inadvertently fail to comply.

The regulation is doomed to fail, because the do-gooders inability to keep its hands off our lunches outran thought and careful analysis.

• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because health care costs too much — and coming up with a plan that actually raises the cost of health care and the cost of insurance policies — that increases the cost of each item used by the medical profession with a tax levied on “medical devices” — and then expects future costs to go down because of the medical innovation that is discouraged by a tax that forces many innovators out of business.

Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because there are so many people who don’t have health insurance. We were told that 46 million Americans were in desperate need of health insurance. This was the reason for the Federal Government to take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy. After five months of ObamaCare a questionable 3 million people have enrolled, but not necessarily paid.

About 39 percent of the uninsured are in five states —Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. About 21 percent of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing programs — Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans benefits — but have not enrolled. 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could purchase insurance but don’t want to. Increasing numbers are signing up for concierge medicine outside the system.

In the State of the Union address, President Obama received a standing ovation when he said “Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer.” This was not true in January, and it has not been true since Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. That law required all individual insurance plans to have guaranteed renewability. It also prohibited all group health-insurance plans sold to businesses from denying coverage to individuals because of preexisting conditions. Medicare covered anyone age 65 or older regardless of preexisting conditions, ditto Medicaid. That wasn’t an intrinsic absurdity — just a plain lie.

They were sure that computerizing all medical records into a national high tech database would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. That turned out to be a flawed study. Evidence on efficiency and safety are mixed, errors widespread, and most medical centers developed their own systems at great expense, but they don’t necessarily talk to each other, let alone talk to the federal government, nor is it clear that to be desirable. The problem seems to be that the systems were developed by High tech engineers instead of developed by clinicians to develop what would work for them. In some cases the doctors are followed around by ‘scribes’ who record data so the doctor doesn’t have to. How many typos do you do each day?

Are you mad yet?

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