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Why Trade U.S.’s Health Care Problem for Britain’s Catastrophe?

Obama has changed the sales pitch to focus on costs, but the plan is the same: trade a cost problem for an access disaster. (Watch PJTV's virtual health care forum here.)

by
Jeff Emanuel

Bio

July 23, 2009 - 7:51 am
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A series of recent polls showing that his health care proposal has fallen out of favor with a plurality of the American people — and that a majority are no longer predisposed to support a “universal” health care plan as they were before finding out that such a sweeping program would cost them money — has caused President Barack Obama to shift the focus of his health care overhaul evangelism.

Cast for the duration of his presidential campaign and the first six months of his presidency as a solution to the no-longer ignorable “crisis” of the 45 million American uninsured, Obama abruptly abandoned so-called “universal coverage” as the raison d’être for his single-minded pursuit of a health care overhaul, deciding instead to focus on the cost of health care for all, insured or not.

On July 13, Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing that more people (49 percent) opposed Obama’s health care proposal than favored it (46 percent) — the first time a major poll had produced this result. Further, according to a Rasmussen poll published July 18, 61 percent of Americans believe high costs are the biggest problem the nation’s health care system is currently facing. By contrast, only 21 percent had a lack of so-called “universal coverage” as their chief concern. Ten percent cited quality as the biggest problem with the health care system, and 2 percent said inconvenience in getting care.

These poll results seem to show that our health care system really isn’t in as much trouble as some would like us to think it is. After all, if the cost of lifesaving health treatments, rather than the quality of those treatments and access to them, is the biggest worry of a population, things just aren’t so bad, no matter what demagogues in Washington may say.

These Rasmussen polls also seem to show the folly of adopting the style of socialized medicine practiced in countries like Great Britain, where the cost of health care is far down the list of concerns, but where the quality of and access to lifesaving and life-prolonging treatments are incredibly serious problems.

Anecdotes revealing the high human cost associated with government-run health care gone wrong, United Kingdom-style, are endless. Emergency room patients have been left in ambulances outside hospitals for over eight hours, in order for administrators to technically (and perversely) comply with a government decree that patients be seen by a physician within four hours of entering the hospital. Disabled children are being made to wait up to two years for wheelchairs because the government can’t — or won’t — provide them in a timely manner. The average wait is five months, and which children even receive such equipment then is determined by government lottery.

Women are being prevented from giving birth by cesarean section because bureaucrats in charge of health care have decided the procedure is too expensive — a rationale being offered by the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness for its rationing of care and denial of dozens of lifesaving and life-extending drugs, treatments, and procedures.

Earlier this year, a three-year-old girl had a heart operation delayed for the third time because of a lack of hospital beds.

Earlier this month, a veteran of the British military had to pull out 13 of his own teeth with pliers because he didn’t win the national lottery held to see which National Health Service patients would get a chance to see a dentist this year.

These stories, and more like them, are commonplace events in the government-run National Health Service (which Obama adviser and former nominee for Health and Human Services secretary Tom Daschle has openly said he wants the U.S. system to emulate).

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