American Elephants

Carly Fiorina Talks About the Health Care Bills Now Before Congress. by The Elephant's Child
December 6, 2009, 12:39 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law | Tags: , ,

And bless her heart, she is running against Barbara Boxer.

(h/t: The Corner, NRO)

Obama says: “We can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat in health care.” Yes We Can! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has made the health care debate the hot button topic of the moment.  The President wants a bill passed right now — this weekbefore people have a chance to read the bill, digest what it actually says, question the policies it establishes, debate, stage protests, contact their representatives or discuss it with their neighbors.

This, in itself, is astounding.  Here is a bill that changes our entire relationship with the health care industry.  It changes where we will get our insurance, what that insurance will cover and what it will not, how we find our doctors and how we relate to them, and puts a vast quantity of Washington bureaucrats and functionaries in charge of our health instead of us.  And because it is so important, so life-involving and life-changing there is no time, no time to consider whether it is a good idea or not.  Most Americans are beginning to believe that it is not a good idea at all — and that is the reason for the rush.

Most of what is claimed as support for the need for “swift and decisive action” is either untrue or an exaggeration.  False statistics are paraded, examples from other universal health care systems are dismissed as “scare stories,” costs as delineated by the Congressional Budget Office are ignored, and those who speak out are attacked, bullied and threatened.

Liberals have good intentions.  They want universal health care because they believe that they, as enlightened government functionaries of sterling character, know how to see that their system is more fair and cares for everybody equally in an exceptional way — that is except for themselves, who they excuse from ever participating in such a plan.  How do they justify that?  Got me! But they justify excusing themselves from most anything that is a little unpleasant for the rest of us.  You do know that they give themselves regular cost-of-living pay increases automatically, don’t you?  They used to vote themselves increases, and then the voters got all huffy, so they just changed the system so they don’t have to vote.  It’s automatic, no matter what the state of the economy.

Liberals (Progressives, whatever) aren’t very interested in statistics or results or consequences.  They care deeply about their idealism, their goals and “social justice.” Social justice is a socialist code word for equality of outcome.  They have never liked the idea of equality of opportunity, because that does not insist that things be fair.   It’s just that trying to make things fair to everyone makes for a whole lot of bad consequences.

There are so many examples of government run health care.  Medicare is going broke and the baby boomers will start turning 65 in just a few years.  There is Medicaid, and the Indian Health Service.  None of these government programs are successful.  Massachusetts health care was supposed to show how a government-run plan could succeed and be an example for national health care for the country, and in just 3 years it is a failure.  Massachusetts just dropped 30,000 legal immigrants from the program because Massachusetts cannot afford them.  We are already subsidizing Massachusetts care for those who cannot afford insurance, with our federal taxpayer dollars, to the tune of $1.35 billion a year.

England, France and Canada have failing systems.  Many countries have two layers of care, one for ordinary people and another private care for those who can afford it.  James Lewis writes of his experience with Mexican care here,  and in the comments others describe their experience abroad.

Democrats in Congress and in the White House are already talking about rationing.  They have pointed out that the old folks rack up the most costs in end-of-life care, and that really can be reduced.  All of us will, with luck, someday become “old folks.” And they are already planning to deny treatment, operations, new remedies, but sorry, we just don’t have time to discuss it.  We have to pass the bill now.  Maybe we can fix it later, hmmn?

If We Adopt ObamaCare, Where Will the Canadians Get Their Health Care? Part I. by The Elephant's Child

Nepotism is alive and well in the Obama Administration.  One of President Barack Obama’s key advisers on medical policy is the brother of his exceedingly partisan chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.  Dr. Emanuel has written a paper on “The Perfect Storm of Overutilization” which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Emanuel thinks we use way too much medical resources.  He doesn’t even like fancy waiting rooms, he believes that physicians are too highly paid and he doesn’t like the Hippocratic Oath.  He doesn’t like American hospital rooms which offer more comfort, privacy and extra services than hospital rooms in other countries.  Back to big wards, I guess.

Dr. Emanuel calls for medical students to be trained “to move toward more socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” In order to reduce spending, doctors will have to be pressured to deny treatment.  The Canadians do not allow most cardiac treatment for patients 65 and older.  The Hippocratic Oath’s promise “to use my power to help the patient to the best of my ability and judgment” prompts doctors to use too many medical resources.

The legislation for influencing your doctor’s decisions was included in the stimulus package — The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  It sets a goal that every individual’s treatment will be recorded by computer, and your doctor will receive electronically delivered protocols on “appropriate” and “cost-effective” care.  No individual judgment here, just follow the program.  In Britain, they deny treatment for elderly people’s macular degeneration until they have gone blind in one eye.

Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor, has been named national coordinator of health information technology.  His writings, according to Betsy McCaughey, also favor limiting the amount of health care that patients can get.  He agrees that there may be longer waits and reduced availability of newer and more expensive treatments or devices.  “If electronic health records are to save money,” he wrote, doctors will have to take “advantage of embedded clinical decision support.” [euphemism alert!] Computers telling doctors what to do.

Age discrimination will be big under Obama Care.  We were all young once, so denying care to the elderly in order to give more to the young and fit is the goal.  This is a fundamental part of Britain’s National Health Service, and Canada’s Health Service.  Watch out if you have a lot of health problems too.

The President spoke last Monday on health care.  He was flanked by heads of several of the major health care lobbying groups.  He announced, grandly, a “watershed event:”

These groups are coming together to make an unprecedented commitment.  Over the next 10 years —from 2010 to 2019 — they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.

Uh huh.  The president of the American Hospital Association said that a deal with the White House had been “spun way away from the original intent.”  They promised to try to reduce spending gradually over 10 years, eventually trying to reach 1.5 percent. The agreement had been misrepresented.  There’s “frankly a lot of political spin” he said.

The most ethical Congress ever plans to ram Obama’s Health Care program through without any possibility of filibuster or dissension.  No consideration of unintended consequences.  No reading the bill.  No checking on the rules and regulations.  Economist Larry Kudlow says that it will be at least $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion more at least, and will bankrupt the nation.  Not that the country is not bankrupt already.  Every nationalized health care plan has cost far, far more than estimated.

What do you want to bet that the most ethical Congress ever has no intention of giving up their own very special health care plan to join the rest of the nation in socialized medicine?  This is billed as only a way to get those 45 million uninsured covered with health care policies.  Except that the 45 million number is a lie, and if the whole deal is to cover the uninsured, why the elaborate plan to force doctors and hospitals under threat of losing their licenses to follow the government’s computerized protocols?  Logan’s Run or it’s remake The Island have come to life.

Rasmussen reports that 70 percent of insured Americans rate their health insurance coverage as good or excellent.  Only 32 percent would pay higher taxes to provide health insurance for all.   54 percent say they’re not willing to pay more in taxes.

When Canadians or British citizens need medical care that they cannot get in their own system, they come here for the things that their own country denies them.  So where do we go when we are denied?

Stay tuned for Part II.

Americans don’t want “universal health care.” by The Elephant's Child

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans oppose a single-payer national health care system overseen by the federal government according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.  Only thirty percent (30%) favor a government-run health plan, and 19% are undecided.

Democrats favor such a plan by 45% to 30%.  Seventy-four percent of Republicans oppose a plan run by the government.  Married voters by double digits are more opposed to a government plan than unmarrieds.

A majority of American voters (58%) oppose any kind of government-controlled health plan if it means they have to change their own insurance coverage.

These are encouraging figures.  Democrats have taken the position that Americans really want “universal health care.” You will notice the more careful phrasing.  No one says “socialized medicine” though that is in fact what they are proposing.  And why are they proposing it? Because the cost of health care is too high for many states and corporations.

And if current health care costs too much, how are those costs to be reduced?  They talk about greater computerization of medical records.  A Rand study suggests significant savings, but not for 15 years.  Other studies do not see significant savings. Proponents insist that if we just turn our health care problem over to the government, it will be much more efficient and much less expensive.  If you have ever seen a massive government program that delivers on that kind of promise, please comment.

The only way that government can offer less expensive health care is through rationing. Ration the treatments that people may receive. National Health Insurance in Britain does not allow some of the more expensive drugs for Alzheimers or Macular Degeneration.  Sorry, costs too much.   Expensive cancer treatments, no, sorry.   Hospitals get less money, and cleanliness suffers.  Fewer top students choose to go into medicine, and fewer students choose to go into nursing.  Wait times to see a physician or a specialist increase from days to months. Fewer of those big expensive diagnostic machines are purchased.  It is inevitable.  This is the result in countries that have adopted some form of socialized medicine.

Some countries have a two tier system, one for ordinary folks and a better one for those who can pay.  British patients who can afford it go to India for surgery in India’s upper tier health care.

American patients who are diagnosed with cancer have a far better survival rate than patients in Europe.  The American five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 99 percent, the European average is 78 percent.  American women have a 63 percent chance of living at least five years after a cancer diagnosis compared with 56 percent for European women.

If Congress determines to pass some form of health care plan, we’d better make very, very sure that members of Congress have exactly the same plan that we do.

We were speaking of Freedom. There are little freedoms and some very big ones. by The Elephant's Child

KENNETH CITY — Council members caved in to demands from an angry crowd and delayed approving a neatness ordinance until officials explain every word of the 26-page document to Kenneth City residents.

In what was estimated to be the largest crowd to ever attend a Kenneth City Council meeting, an outraged group of residents railed at the proposal that would regulate the upkeep of both the exterior and interior of all property in the town.

The proposal basically sets standards for upkeep and appearance and gives town council officials the right to enter homes.  If the owner refuses to allow the official to enter, the town can go to a judge for an “administrative search warrant” to allow access to the interior of  buildings.  Violations would cost up to $250 a day.

Angry residents likened the proposal to rules created by Communist or Nazi dictatorships.  One person said the result would be to create a network of spies to snitch on neighbors to council members and other town officials.  Someone suggested the town should change its name from Kenneth City to “Petty City.”

I know that potholes and traffic lights get boring after a while, but city councils, drunk with power, frequently go too far.  The Seattle Parks Department is considering a regulation to ban beach fires on city beaches to prevent their contribution to “global warming”.  The Seattle City Council was advocating tearing down the dams on the Columbia River, until they took a field trip to Eastern Washington and found out how big the dams are.  The Berkeley City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors provide frequent entertainment, but when it is your freedom that they encroach upon, it isn’t so funny.

Bureaucracies, at every level, want to control things that they find annoying.  Since they are in positions that allow them to dictate to others, they assume that they are qualified to do so. They fail to recognize that restraint is their most important duty.

Some inroads upon our liberty are vastly more important than others. Congress, obsessing over the phony statistic about the number of Americans without health insurance that they used to such effect in the recent campaign, now wants to use that statistic to force universal health care on Americans.

Democrats love the idea of universal health care.  As always, they focus on their intent, the goal, and are uninterested in studies and statistics and results of how such health care actually works in countries where it has been adopted.  Tom Daschle, who will be President-elect Obama’s Health Care Czar (if he is confirmed) thinks that a plan just like Canada’s would be a fine idea.  What planet has he been living on?

To a clone of Canada’s health plan (you must belong) he adds the hated NICE from the British plan to decide what treatment you will be allowed to have, and what drugs you will be allowed to have, and what tests you are allowed to have.  Bureaucrats decide, not you, not your doctor. Many Canadian doctors have immigrated to the US.  Many Canadian patients come to the US for treatment. Fewer people enter the profession of medicine.

Reports from other countries are pretty uniform.  It works for a while, but costs so much that government must drive down costs.  It is NOT FREE, you pay for every bit of your own health care and everyone else’s in increased taxes.  Claims that you will save money are false.  Long waits (6 months) for an appointment or treatment are standard in Canada, Great Britain, France, Sweden, New Zealand.  British patients needing serious surgery go to India if they can afford it.  Ordinary care in India is not good, but there is a higher level for those who can pay.  Hospitals in Britain and France are often dirty and infested with “superbugs”.

These things don’t matter too much when you have a simple, common problem — a broken arm, a bad cut.  It’s when you face a serious health problem that it really matters.  We have more diagnostic machines in any major city than there are in Canada.  People are lured by the false promise that the care is FREE.

I have written about socialized medicine here, here, here, and here. This is an enormous attack on your personal freedom, your health, and will drag your country down.  Please do your homework. Read and read some more.

All of the major think tanks have comprehensive studies.  Do not part with your freedom lightly. There are times when you must stand up and be willing to fight to retain your freedom.

Obama’s health care plan? Be afraid, very afraid. by The Elephant's Child

Do you understand that Barack Obama’s health insurance plan will become universal health care ( the euphemistic name for socialized medicine)?  Democrats are committed to converting Americans to some form of universal health care.  They claim it will be cheaper, (it won’t). They claim it will be more efficient (it won’t).  They claim you will be happier with it (you won’t).  It is a power thing.  Democrats want the power over the American economy that the adoption of socialized medicine would provide.

Hawaii has just provided us with an example of how this works.

Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program.  A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services, “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

I have written often on socialized medicine, for many people do not understand why it is to be feared.  I tried to point out why it is doomed to failure for you here, I have often referred to Canadian universal health care and the British National Health Service, but we recently received a comment from “U.S. Frog” who is living in France and experiencing the wonders of the French version of universal health care:

I live in France and I know all about “socialized medicine”. For one thing it’s NOT FREE. When you work, 12.5 % comes out of your pay check for health insurance. That is just the basic. Then you have to pay for a secondary insurance yourself. If you have income from property, you will be subject to a “generalized social contribution” of 10 % on whatever that income is. Now, none of these payments are INCOME TAX. You pay for income tax in addition to these and that is just YOUR part. Then you have Value added tax which is something like sales tax. That is 19.6 % of the cost of most articles except you don’t see it because it is added to the price of the article before you buy it. (It would be a shock to any French person to go to the cash register and have the cashier ring up another 19.6% in sales tax, so they add it on beforehand). So you see, this system is VERY EXPENSIVE and I haven’t mentioned the tax on interest and dividends etc. Saying it is free is a DOWNRIGHT LIE. And we have the same problems as the British in the state of hospitals: long waiting lists, superbugs, underpaid doctors (so they ask for under the table payments) etc. etc. The US health insurance system definitely needs a reform but believe me, socialized medicine IS NOT THE SOLUTION.Do take the warnings of other seriously.

‘Universal Health Care’ and ‘Single-‘Payer Health Care’ are simply alternative names chosen to be more palatable for socialized medicine. A rose by any other name… There is a reason for all those aphorisms and warnings that our mothers and grandmothers gave us.  They represent the guardrails of life, and we ignore them at our peril.

Confused about Health Insurance? Who isn’t. by The Elephant's Child

Back during World War II, the Roosevelt administration instituted wage and price controls, as well as rationing of gasoline, tires, meat, cheese, butter (margarine appeared on the market for the first time — a sealed bag of a pure white substance something like Crisco with a gelatin capsule of yellow food color and butter flavor — you kneaded it to break the capsule and turn the stuff yellow) and all sorts of other things were just unavailable.

Since businesses could not offer their employees raises, employer-paid health insurance was offered.  Health insurance itself was a brand new thing. As with most government interference in the marketplace, it had some advantages and a lot of disadvantages.

Since health insurance was — at first — free, people got into the habit of seeing their doctor for more and more things. Over the years, more drugs were developed to cure or alleviate disease, and often competing pharmaceutical companies developed competing drugs. As the marketplace became more crowded, advertising became more common. With the advent of more media, there was of course more advertising. More over-the-counter vitamins, drugs, herbs. More discussion in the media about what to do about this condition and that. More semi-medical advice, more warnings of dangerous pesticides, metals, electricity.  Is it any wonder that we have become, to a certain extent, a nation of hypochondriacs. And you were asking why health insurance has become so expensive?

State legislators are happy to add mandates to health insurance. An aunt that is into acupuncture, naturopathy, a depressed spouse, a child that has special needs.  Legislators are very open to lobbying by friends, relatives, representatives of uncovered health care providers, drug makers, people with life threatening conditions, or rare conditions.  Each mandate added, in the well-meaning intent to be kind, adds to the cost of insurance.  In my state a pharmacist sued successfully to have birth-control pill coverage added.  Shouldn’t people have to pay for something themselves?

Miraculous new machines that allow doctors to conduct lifesaving tests, people living longer, more specialists, joint replacements, artificial hearts, pacemakers, bypasses, organ replacement.  And you complain because your co-payment has gone up.

But there are 45.7 million people officially classified by the Census Bureau as uninsured in 2007.  That’s a crisis, isn’t it?  If 15% of the population is uninsured, then the current system must be failing.

The Census Bureau doesn’t tell us that 45.7 million people are chronically uninsured for the entire year. It only approximates the number who are uninsured at a moment in time. When workers quit or lose their job they may experience only a very temporary interruption in their insurance, sometimes only a few days.

Many people are uninsured for reasons that are not related to cost. Census data show that many of the uninsured are relatively affluent.  Over 17.5 million —38% — of the uninsured make more than $50,000 a year, and 9.1 million make over $75,000 a year.  Many financially comfortable young Americans choose not to purchase health insurance.  They would rather keep their money than shell out for premiums made expensive by many mandates added by states.

There are roughly 8 million working poor who are chronically uninsured.  Folks who earn less than $50,000, and simply cannot afford insurance. These are the people we should be focusing on, straightforward coverage that will cover them in the case of a catastrophe.

Barack Obama’s health-care plan features a favorite ploy of politicians. He says he would cut the average family’s annual health-insurance premiums by $2,500 and everyone would get coverage as good as his congressional plan. Obama would spend $50 billion (you will notice that Obama’s programs always start with spending  X billion dollars) to promote health IT.  A well-known RAND study claims Health IT would save $77 billion after 15 years of putting the infrastructure in place. The Congressional Budget Office says health IT will not produce significant savings in the near term, but would push costs up.

Joseph Antos, Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in health-care and retirement policy at the American Enterprise Institute says that $46 billion could be saved if the insurance industry’s overhead costs were lowered to levels seen in Germany, but we would still be short $240 billion of promised savings.

John McCain has a different approach.  He will remove part of the tax-credit that your employer receives for providing your insurance.  That will encourage employers to return to you the amount of salary that you did not receive because it went to the cost of health care.  Instead, you will get the tax-credit for your own insurance.  The tax credit, as I understand it, goes to your insurance company.  With the tax credit and the additional salary, you will be able to buy your own insurance easily and more cheaply.  McCain wants to open the market for health insurance across state lines.

Increased competition will allow you to get the particular policy that is best for you, and it will follow you to any job.  You will no longer have to worry about losing your insurance if you lose your job.  Increased competition will bring down the cost of insurance as well as increasing choice.  There is no industry, business or product that competition has not improved.  Freedom from state mandates will improve your choices.  McCain does not want to eliminate employer-paid health insurance, but rather offer more options and more freedom.

I have written before about socialized medicine, and why it is a disaster everywhere it is tried, here.  The State of Massachusetts adopted a state universal health insurance program.  It would be the test ground to see how well universal health care would work here in the United States.  You don’t hear much about it, but here’s a report on how it’s going.  I would urge you to read the whole thing.

These are things that affect the coming election, and it is important to cast an informed vote. The Democrats have long hoped for universal health care.  Once adopted, it is almost impossible to get rid of.  But many people refuse to do their homework, study how it is working in England and Canada.  You may not be able to control what our servants in Washington do, but it is possible to be well informed, and that is the best protection you can have.

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