It’s beginning to look like President Obama is a university president, rather than the president of the United States, with the White House becoming a cavalcade of artists, experts making presentations, and breakout sessions. This week it was health care. There has already been a major overhaul of health care with the expansion of child health care (S-CHIP) to well beyond poverty levels and childhood years. Next, Obama/Pelosi/Reid are trying to shepherd through a 600+ billion dollar reorganization of our health-care system and no one is sure what it will look like. With health care being 14% of the GDP, getting reform right is essential.
For a generation, Democrats have been scaring old people regarding Medicare and Social Security. They’ve framed Republicans as the group that would throw old people out of doctors’ offices and off the Social Security rolls. They claimed cuts in the Medicare system that were not there and suggested that Social Security didn’t need to be overhauled. But tucked into the 700+ billion dollar “stimulus” plan is the digitizing of medical records and a board that will decide whether a type of care is necessary. This is merely code for the rationing of health care. Seniors, hold on to your hats, you are about to be moved from the top of the health care system by the Democrats.
Last Friday, attendees at the White House’s Summit on Health Care focused more on cost cutting than on covering the uninsured. Larry Summers of the National Economics Council chaired a session on tackling costs, which included suggestions to change the way doctors and hospitals are paid and even placing limits on how much and what kind of care patients can receive. Again, this is simply code for rationing. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “We can’t all have everything we want when we want it. And it’s going to hurt everybody’s feelings. But I don’t see any other way.” I think that is a legitimate point, but the question is who decided this — the government or the doctors with their patients?
This is a paradox. The impetus is on cost cutting, but the litigious nature of our system forces doctors to order tests to rule out even the least probable outcome, even if the symptoms don’t call for it. Tort reform has got to be part of any health care reform package but at the “summit,” it wasn’t discussed. It is called the practice of medicine because people respond differently to care based on their history and other factors. Health-care providers should make those decisions on an individual basis based on the best science and the patient’s medical history, not based on a government-backed panel.
Even Democrat Max Baucus expressed concern:
“We are America, we are not Canada, we are not other countries, we are the United States of America,” Baucus said. “It’s a country of innovation, of entrepreneurship, ‘Go west young man,’ so we have to have our uniquely American health care solution, it has to be both public and private. My goal is to keep that mix of public and private, that uniquely American result with which a lot of Americans, the vast majority of Americans are very comfortable.”
Thank you, Senator, for pointing out that the vast majority of Americans have health insurance and are happy with the care they are receiving.
Fifty percent of health-care costs are incurred in the last month of life and those costs rarely change the outcome of the patient’s illness. In addition, most ailments in this society are brought on by behavioral choices. The amount of money we have spent over the years treating ailments brought on by abuse of alcohol, food, and nicotine is alarming. The government shouldn’t regulate the purchase or intake of these things. People must take responsibility for their own actions. If you’ve smoked for 50 years and Medicaid stops paying for your $400-a-month respiratory medicine, you shouldn’t complain. You had the money to smoke all those years; don’t expect the government to take care of you when you did this to yourself. So while the government is having this debate, you should quit smoking, start walking, moderate your vices, and we’ll all do better.
Fifteen years ago, the public rose up and said, “We don’t want government health care.” President Obama has the numbers to get anything he and Speaker Pelosi want through Congress. What we need is health insurance that is portable from state to state as well as from business to business. We need to increase competition and we ought to be able to buy health insurance in the same way we purchase auto insurance. We need a free market solution that includes tax credits, portability, and choice.