American Elephants

A Warning Voice from Across the Water: by The Elephant's Child

As the Supreme Court hears arguments about the fate of ObamaCare, it is useful to once again take a look at the country with the longest experience with socialized medicine. Britain adopted their National Health Service just after World War II.

When we read the accounts of NHS care in the British papers, we are told that they are only “scare stories.” They would never happen here, we are told. Yet, we were told, Obama’s health care advisers — Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter Orzag, Tom Daschle, and Dr, Donald Berwick — were all extravagant admirers of the National Health Service.  They talked a lot, we were told,  about the fact that the highest costs of medicine came in a person’s final years.

That’s where the ideas for the Independent Pay Advisory Board (IPAB) that Congress is trying to repeal right now, came from.  That’s where “comparative effectiveness research” came from. Obama even referred to it when confronted with a woman in one of his campaign events, who wanted to know what value ObamaCare would place on ‘zest for life’ when deciding on a procedure for an older person (in this case, her mother who needed a pacemaker at age 100 — got it— and has enjoyed 5 more years and is still going strong). Obama mumbled a little and said something about there was a time when radical expense maybe wasn’t worth it, and pain pills were more in order.

Monday, March 25, 2012, The Telegraph reports: Elderly Dying due to Despicable Age Discrimination in NHS.

A lack of treatment or insufficient treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year in people over the age of 75, Macmillan Cancer Support has found, in what it called an ‘unacceptable act of discrimination’.

Deaths from cancer are reducing in most age groups but at a slower rate in those aged 74 to 84 and are increasing in people aged 85 and over, the report said.

Professor Riccardo Audisio, Consultant Surgical Oncologist at St Helens Hospital, said: “It is despicable to neglect, not to offer, not to even go near to the best treatment option only on the simple basis of the patient’s age. “This has been a horrible mistake that, particularly in the UK, we have suffered from.”

According to research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, there would be 14,000 fewer deaths from cancer in those aged over 75 per year if mortality rates from cancer matched those in America.

Keep in mind that this is just, we are told, a “scare story” from England, and has nothing to do with ObamaCare.

Free market medicine is based on competition, which helps to keep the costs down, and rewards excellence. Socialized medicine, which offers all things pretending to be “free,” encourages overuse, because nobody really knows what anything costs. It’s just that the taxes keep going up. And both the providers and the administrators focus becomes reducing the cost. Providers try to receive adequate recompense for their efforts; administrators make more rules to slash expenses. The incentives have changed, and excellence goes by the wayside. It’s just the way of the world.

Do You Remember One of the Worst Supreme Court Decisions Ever? by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Economy, Law, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

Do you remember Kelo v. City of New London? It involved the constitutional question of eminent domain, which has traditionally allowed governments to condemn privately owned land only for a public purpose such as a needed bridge or a freeway, a use that serves all the people.

The Supreme Court’s 2005 decision stands as one of the worst in recent years, handing local governments the option to seize private property in the name of “economic development.”

Suzette Kelo’s little pink house in New London, Conn. was seized by private developers for a project including a hotel and offices intended to enhance Pfizer Inc.’s nearby corporate facility and New London’s tax base.

In the late 1990s, politicians in New London were desperate to fix up their aging and ailing town. The city set up a private, non-profit entity  which set about making a plan for a new New London.

The centerpiece would be a massive research and development facility which Pfizer needed, and they were right across the river in Groton. The politicians picked a 24 acre lot and sold it to Pfizer for $10, and added on some special tax breaks, including cleanup of the lot.

Sweet deal, but Pfizer wanted it sweetened a little more.  The old Victorian houses in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood next door were not what Pfizer envisioned.  They thought a high-rise hotel and luxury condominiums would be just the thing.

The development corporation, empowered with eminent domain by the city, condemned the homes of anyone who wouldn’t sell at its appraised value.  Suzette Kelo and others sued to block the condemnation, and fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There the five justices ruled  in favor  of the developers.  America was shocked.  The Court cited the development plan’s “comprehensive character” and the politicians “thorough deliberation.” And besides, it would improve the tax base and attract needed jobs. The city and the state spent around $78 million to bulldoze the homes.

But the development never happened. Pfizer merged with Wyeth, decided to close its research and development offices, and move back across the river with some 1400 jobs.  The property remains vacant, overgrown with weeds and rubble.  No jobs, no business. And Kelo remains one of the most reviled decisions of the Supreme Court in years.

In the face of the outcry, many states have taken action to strengthen eminent domain. But Kelo must be repealed.

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