Monday, July 20, 2009

Socialized Medicine Making People Sick

Privacy advocates and civil libertarians who have raised a ruckus over electronic surveillance or harsh interrogation tactics haven't made a peep over a government-run healthcare system. Doesn't heavy-handed bureaucratic control over the doctor-patient relationship--in other words, socialism as Michael Steele correctly described this gargantuan federal apparatus--also violate a fundamental element of freedom and/or privacy? And as a practical matter, how does a budget-exploding, paper shuffling monolith--which will cause even more job loss and overseas outsourcing--improve the health of ordinary Americans?

There are plenty of problems with the way the current healthcare system operates and reform is needed. To be sure, insurance companies, medical providers, drug corporations, and trial lawyers (as well as individuals who adopt a self-destructive lifestyle) have contributed to runaway healthcare costs, but the ideologically driven proponents of socialized medicine (which has failed everywhere it has been tried) have been less than candid over what the legislation actually requires. Unlike members of Congress, some people are actually taking the time to read the legislation. From the New York Post:
President Obama promises that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it," even after he reforms our health-care system. That's untrue. The bills now before Congress would force you to switch to a managed-care plan with limits on your access to specialists and tests.
Two main bills are being rushed through Congress with the goal of combining them into a finished product by August. Under either, a new government bureaucracy will select health plans that it considers in your best interest, and you will have to enroll in one of these "qualified plans." If you now get your plan through work, your employer has a five-year "grace period" to switch you into a qualified plan. If you buy your own insurance, you'll have less time.
And as soon as anything changes in your contract -- such as a change in copays or deductibles, which many insurers change every year -- you'll have to move into a qualified plan instead (House bill, p. 16-17).
When you file your taxes, if you can't prove to the IRS that you are in a qualified plan, you'll be fined thousands of dollars -- as much as the average cost of a health plan for your family size -- and then automatically enrolled in a randomly selected plan (House bill, p. 167-168).
It's one thing to require that people getting government assistance tolerate managed care, but the legislation limits you to a managed-care plan even if you and your employer are footing the bill (Senate bill, p. 57-58). The goal is to reduce everyone's consumption of health care and to ensure that people have the same health-care experience, regardless of ability to pay.
From Investor's Business Daily:
So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
And this from the American Spectator:
Democrats and President Obama have denied that the creation of a new government-run health care plan would be a Trojan Horse for single-payer health care, but a new report by the Lewin Group (comissioned by the Heritage Foundation) finds that the House Democrats' health care bill would shift more 83.4 million Americans from private health care coverage to the government plan. To put that in perspective, that would mean that nearly half (48.4 percent) would lose their private health coverage. In all, the government plan would have 103.4 million members once implemented, according to the Lewin analysis. President Obama has repeated the mantra that anybody who likes their health insurance plan can keep it, but in reality about 63 percent of covered Americans get their health care through their employers, and if employers decide to drop their current health plans in favor of the government plan, workers won't have any choice but to sign up.
The nation wants costs reigned in, but the anxiety average Americans are feeling and will feel over a government-run system will make people even more sick--even before the rationing and waiting lists start (and have you read any articles about the decrepit condition of VA hospitals--the precursor to nationalized healthcare?). As Michelle Malkin writes, the Obama plan is also apparently designed to cover illegal aliens, yet most Americans don't want undocumented persons to get drivers' licenses, let alone medical insurance:
Democrats want to ration health care for everyone in America -- except those who break our immigration laws.
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee defeated an amendment that would've prevented illegal aliens from using the so-called "public health-insurance option." Every Democrat on the panel voted against it.
Nevada GOP Rep. Dean Heller's measure would've enforced income, eligibility and immigration-verification screening on all ObamaCare patients. The citizenship-vetting process would not have required building a new bureaucracy, but used existing state and federal databases to root out entitlement fraud.
If the congressional majority is truly committed to President Obama's quest to wring out cost savings, why won't it adopt the same anti-fraud checks imposed on other government health and welfare beneficiaries?
A healthy citizenry is an important part of homeland security, but a rationing based, government-controlled program is simply inconsistent with our freedom and opportunity based society, especially since it could drive the U.S. to near bankruptcy with its $1 trillion or more price tag according to the Congressional Budget Office. Layer upon layer of job-killing taxes and regulations presided over by overweight, overpaid public sector bureaucrats (perhaps some of whom smoke cigarettes like Obama) aren't going to promote wellness. How could it? Free-market structural reforms (of which there are many sound proposals) must be the primary component of the cost-savings solution. This from RealClearPolitics:
...A handful of people who probably never even ran a small business actually think they can reinvent the health care system....How do these arrogant, presumptuous politicians believe they can know enough to plan for the rest of us? Who do they think they are? Under cover of helping uninsured people get medical care, they live out their megalomaniacal social-engineering fantasies -- putting our physical and economic health at risk in the process.
And as we wrote in a prior post, if the nation wants to treat the causes rather than the symptoms of illness, conventional medicine and insurers must move towards less costly and more holistic, alternative approaches rather than total reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and surgical interventions. (Yet it is often government bureaucrats who have conducted an ongoing push-back against legitimate alternative healers and healing modalities.) As Mike Adams, the self-designated "health ranger," writes:
Even now, the FDA (under the Obama administration) continues its outright war against the natural products industry, censoring truthful information about the health benefits of dietary supplements in a tyrannical effort to eliminate Big Pharma's competition. This has the effect of eliminating choice for consumers, ultimately driving up monopoly health care costs under the system of western medicine that (laughingly) claims to provide health care today.
In a separate editorial, Adams echoes our concern that health is a national security issue as well as one that goes to the essence of personal privacy:
There's nothing in the Obama plan that protects health freedom, or provides consumers with more choice, or teaches people a single strategy for preventing disease through nutrition, sunlight, exercise and informed self-care...No nation can economically survive if its people are not healthy.
And if a nationalized program is so wonderful, why is Congress exempting itself and its labor union cronies from enrolling in the so-called public option?

Update: National Review Online Columnist Deroy Murdock has the right idea:
Rather than endorse such big-government overkill, pro-freedom members of Congress should promote a simple concept: Let every American own and control an individual health-insurance policy that can be transported among jobs, self-employment, graduate school, and life’s other twists and turns...
What Americans need is a thriving market in individually owned and controlled health-insurance plans. When you book an airline flight, does not ask, “What is your group number?” You decide when and where to fly, and then buy your ticket. At least with personal travel, your boss does not fund this. The same is true for car insurance, home insurance, and often life insurance. Why must Americans shop for health insurance at work, rather than online or through independent agents?
By the way, the Obama/Congressional plan will make it illegal to go to a private doctor for care and pay out of your own pocket and will even rule out using your own money to buy a supplemental insurance policy (which is what many seniors currently do to augment their Medicare coverage). Is that freedom--or fascism?

No comments:

Post a Comment