Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama Will Ration Health Care

From Peter Singer at the New York Times, "Why We Must Ration Health Care":

In the current U.S. debate over health care reform, “rationing” has become a dirty word. Meeting last month with five governors, President Obama urged them to avoid using the term, apparently for fear of evoking the hostile response that sank the Clintons’ attempt to achieve reform. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published at the end of last year with the headline “Obama Will Ration Your Health Care,” Sally Pipes, C.E.O. of the conservative Pacific Research Institute, described how in Britain the national health service does not pay for drugs that are regarded as not offering good value for money, and added, “Americans will not put up with such limits, nor will our elected representatives.” And the Democratic chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, told CNSNews in April, “There is no rationing of health care at all” in the proposed reform.

Remember the joke about the man who asks a woman if she would have sex with him for a million dollars? She reflects for a few moments and then answers that she would. “So,” he says, “would you have sex with me for $50?” Indignantly, she exclaims, “What kind of a woman do you think I am?” He replies: “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling about the price.” The man’s response implies that if a woman will sell herself at any price, she is a prostitute. The way we regard rationing in health care seems to rest on a similar assumption, that it’s immoral to apply monetary considerations to saving lives — but is that stance tenable?

Health care is a scarce resource, and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another. In the United States, most health care is privately financed, and so most rationing is by price: you get what you, or your employer, can afford to insure you for. But our current system of employer-financed health insurance exists only because the federal government encouraged it by making the premiums tax deductible. That is, in effect, a more than $200 billion government subsidy for health care. In the public sector, primarily Medicare, Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, health care is rationed by long waits, high patient copayment requirements, low payments to doctors that discourage some from serving public patients and limits on payments to hospitals.

The case for explicit health care rationing in the United States starts with the difficulty of thinking of any other way in which we can continue to provide adequate health care to people on Medicaid and Medicare, let alone extend coverage to those who do not now have it. Health-insurance premiums have more than doubled in a decade, rising four times faster than wages. In May, Medicare’s trustees warned that the program’s biggest fund is heading for insolvency in just eight years. Health care now absorbs about one dollar in every six the nation spends, a figure that far exceeds the share spent by any other nation. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it is on track to double by 2035.

President Obama has said plainly that America’s health care system is broken. It is, he has said, by far the most significant driver of America’s long-term debt and deficits. It is hard to see how the nation as a whole can remain competitive if in 15 years we are spending nearly a third of what we earn on health care, while other industrialized nations are spending far less but achieving health outcomes as good as, or better than, ours.

Rationing health care means getting value for the billions we are spending by setting limits on which treatments should be paid for from the public purse. If we ration we won’t be writing blank checks to pharmaceutical companies for their patented drugs, nor paying for whatever procedures doctors choose to recommend. When public funds subsidize health care or provide it directly, it is crazy not to try to get value for money. The debate over health care reform in the United States should start from the premise that some form of health care rationing is both inescapable and desirable. Then we can ask, What is the best way to do it?

Plus, "Republicans Warn of 'Web of Bureaucracy' in Democrats' Health Care Plan." Quoting House Minority Leader John Boehner:

If anybody thinks that all of this bureaucracy is needed to fix our health care system, I plainly disagree ... What this is going to do is ration care, limit the choices that patients and doctors have and really decrease the quality of our health care system.

See also, Sally Pipes, "Obama Will Ration Your Health Care."

More at Jake Tapper, "
POTUS on Health Care Reform: You'll Save Money."

Yeah, or else!

Video: MSNBC, "
President 'Hopeful' About Health Care Progress; But Warns Against Complacency, Pushing for Bills Before August Break (Senate Committee Passes Health Care Bill)":

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

More at Memeorandum; see especially, Wall Street Journal, "Small Business Faces Big Bite: House Health Bill Penalizes All but Tiniest Employers for Not Providing Insurance." Also, Pat in Shreveport, "Speaking of Obamacare..."

Hat Tip:
Tammy Bruce on Twitter, "Obama's depraved moral relativists begin to make the fascist argument for health care rationing"

Photo Hat Tip:
The People's Cube.


Added: The Rhetorican, "Obamacare: Your Body, Government’s Call."


Noah Johns said...

I am no economist but (to quote Glen Beck) I am a thinker. It seems to me that during one of the worst recessions in our nation's history it would be unwise to advocate the government taking on 1/6 of an already troubled economy.

Health care is pure politics for Obama. Its a campaign issue and he knows his window for getting something done on it is closing fast.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

As long as the left increases their power they don't care who it hurts.

Rich Casebolt said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again ...

... it is such irony to see people who were positively apoplectic over the PATRIOT Act and wiretapping ...

.. turn around and staunchly support the institution of a system that will be far, far, FAR more intrusive upon your privacy and liberty.

I guess the difference is ... they can trust the people in charge now?

Understand that, under our present system of health care, there are ways to get around denial of care ... from persuading your employer to change coverage (as ours did), to changing jobs, to finding charitable help.

ALL of the above alternatives will go away, once the Obama plans for health care are fully implemented.

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM when they say that you will be able to keep your plan ... for the "Public Option" will suffer from the same "mission creep", from insurance to entitlement, as Social Security ... and the politicians will make political hay out of demanding that the private-sector plans match, point-for-point, this public option which does not have to maintain solvency in the same way the private-sector plans do.

Once the private-sector plans go away for lack of financial viability, the chickens will come home to roost ... and our life and liberty will be dang-near-irrevocably subordinated to the judgments of those dim bulbs known as the Best and Brightest ...

... in a system where the truly best and brightest are not to be found on staff as doctors, having "gone Galt" or into new higher-paying professions like professional bribe delivery; i.e. government lobbyist.

If, after reading this, you still think that the Obama health care plans are good for this nation, I must conclude that you are so mired in class envy and a desire for revenge against the productive that you are blind to the destruction you are about to invite upon yourself ... and the rest of us.

Dave said...

This is the absolute last chance for the Republican Party, and whatever strays they can pick up from across the aisle, to put down the Marxist coup that began on January 20th, and has been progressing with lightning speed ever since.

TARP, Porkulus, and all of the rest of the insanity that has been passed by this out-of-control congress, along with SS and Medicare, my eventually take us out anyway, but ObamaCare will guarantee our swift demise as a free nation.


Rusty Walker said...

This country is over leveraged. We may be headed for deflationary period that precedes depression. I need to write an essay about this in order to be comprehensive, but if this Health are Plan goes through we are toast.

According to my research and notes following a multitude of fincail gurus not interested in politics, just profits, over the last month, the U.S. economy, over the next four years the U.S. government debt-to-GDP ratio will escalate from 2008 at 41 %, to an unsustainable 80% of GDP. This, many of us expected.

Mind you, the U.S. Debt as a % of GDP elevated to 375% in the first quarter. This is the stuff of third world countries. This is a new post-1870 record! Now if you go to the CBO website the Obama administration depicts this as “71%” but, it does not include the Freddie & Fannie Mae debts. My dinner is served by my lovely wife, so I have to go,. Suffice it to say, there is not enough taxing of the American people to get us out of this deflation/possible depression.

The Health Care the government will offer will undercut ALL private offerings. They will one-by-one close out; then, there will be rationing, as the money is not there to pay doctors, and there are not enough health care professionals paid enogh to sustain this. The government cannot dictate to supply and demand.

Rich Casebolt said...

Makes you wonder if this wasn't the plan of the Dims' leadership from the beginning, Rusty.

Based upon previous activity on their part, it appears to me that they have a strong fixation for reducing America to the least-common-denominator of international standing ... to hobble "warmongering" and corporate "greed", saving the world from our "excesses" ... and also because, in their relativist minds, one form of governance is just as good as the other.

Given that so many Americans have been conditioned by the conventional wisdom of the last 50 years or so to subordinate their judgment to "experts", to the point that they are just fine with dependence upon our "betters" to tell us what to do, resistance to such a diminishing of American power and influence in the world would be quite limited.

Yeah, that's a lot of scare quotes above ... commensurate with the trepidation I am now experiencing about our near-term future.

It's going to be a hard slog back ... and it may not get better, until it gets so much worse that the vast majority of Americans will see that the "progressive" movement is anything but.

Life Insurance in Canada said...

Rusty: nicely said, but don't you think some of the money will be made out of taxes in return with the proposed system?

Take care, Lorne