Saving the economy by “reforming health care”: what does this mean?

In his State of the Union message, Barack Obama used the phrase “healthcare” 15 times, calling healthcare reform a “necessary move to help salvage the sagging economy.”

He blamed the “crushing” cost of medical care for contributing to bankruptcies and foreclosures, and said it had all but stymied growth among small businesses.

He proposes basing “wholesale change” on modernizing how care is delivered and pushing Americans to lead healthier lives. This means investing in “electronic health records that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy and save lives” (Matthew DoBias, HITS 2/25/08).

The “stimulus bill” provisions for health information technology and comparative effectiveness research (CER) appear to dovetail with these stated objectives. Obviously, entering data into a computer does not prevent or cure any illnesses, nor will spending $1.1 billion on CER lead to any new treatments—it is not designed to do so.

So what do they do? AMA denials notwithstanding, they set up the mechanism for monitoring the rationing of care through enforcement of “evidence-based” medicine.

“Variations from these best practices should be defined as medical errors and their causes and corrections should be pursued,” stated Robert F Meenan, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health.

Problems with the “evidence” include: researcher bias, discordant results, insufficient reporting, and fraud, writes Twila Brase, R.N., P.H.N. (“Evidence-based Medicine Is Rationing Care, Hurting Patients,” The State Factor, December 2008). Half the guidelines are out of date within 6 years, yet only half of the 18 prominent guideline organizations worldwide have a formal procedure for updating them. Practitioners are expected to comply in blind faith, Brase observes. Only 7.5% of 279 guidelines describe how the developers combined evidence and opinion.

Would universal health care (and its rationing mechanisms), like that in other developed countries, save the economy? The financial crisis is worldwide. Britain and Ireland have already nationalized banks, and the German cabinet passed a law permitting it to do so.

Germany has agonized over Enteignung (expropriation) of shareholders, a term linked to the Nazi seizure of Jews’ property in the 1930s (Myra MacDonald, Reuters 2/18/09).

Europe is even further along the way to national bankruptcy than the U.S., owing to its even more extensive social welfare programs. The total burden of EU countries under current policies is approaching 40% of GDP, and will exceed 60% of GDP by 2050 if current policies continue, with rapid aging of the population and below-replacement fertility (Jagadeesh Gokhale, “Measuring the Unfunded Obligations of European Countries,” NCPA Policy Report 3319, January 2007).

The average financial shortfall of EU nations is more than 8% of the present value of all future GDP. This means that, in addition to all projected tax and other revenues, the average country would have to have more than four times its current GDP in the bank, drawing interest, to fund current policies indefinitely. Of course, no nation has that much money in hand, so the gap will have to be closed by changing taxes and/or benefits.

For 2004, the fiscal imbalance for the UK was 6.5%, for Germany, 9.2%, and for France, 9.8%. For the U.S., it was 8.2%. The fiscal imbalance increases for each year that action is not taken; the U.S. shortfall grows by more than $1.5 trillion/yr.

The correct approach, Gokhale writes, is gradual but significant reduction in dependence on government-provided social insurance in favor of private saving.

What does the current regime mean to do? The predictable results of stated plans: Enteignung (expropriation) of private resources; stringent rationing of medical services; government-dictated treatments; ever heavier mortgages on our posterity.

Can we rebuild the economy by wrecking American medicine?

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9 thoughts on “Saving the economy by “reforming health care”: what does this mean?

  1. Thank you for making these excellent points!

    In particular, the “comparative effectiveness” tactic sounds good at first, but it will simply increase the government’s power over private physicians’ ability to practice according to their medical judgment and conscience.

    My OpEd on this topic was just published in the 2/23/2009 issue of the Washington Examiner:

    “American Doesn’t Need a Health Care Czar”

    http://www.dcexaminer.com/opinion/America-doesnt-need-a-health-care-czar-40076027.html

    or http://tinyurl.com/c3mhkz

  2. Physicians and nurses get paid less and less. Health care costs more and more with no proportional improvement in quality. Guess why.

    Politicians who have already antisocialized us with public-school skulduggery and can rely on our being easily fooled have contrived to “increase employment.” By mandating tasks that are not directly necessary for the nominal outcome (good health care), they can in the short run increase employment as much as they wish–at a cost of efficiency.

    To anticipate the outcome of such economic meddling, look at the Soviet Union.

    Suppose they gave a bureaucracy and nobody came.

    For years I have drawn blood for uninsured patients, handed them the tubes and a lab requisition, and had them go to a package-mail storefront to send them to an out-of-state lab. Three payments (my blood-draw fee, the shipping cost, and the lab fee), but the savings are still about 40%. My website mentions out-of-state hospitals and international sites for elective surgery. I also try to emancipate my patients from in-patent drugs.

    All the regulation in the world will be useless if we and our patients can find a way to bypass it. Then, our hospitals will be empty and the government will had nothing to meddle with.

    thanks for a very helpful article.

  3. Major governmental policy changes are often accomplished via an Hegelian Dialectic: thesis, antithesis, and finally synthesis. In the case of socialized medicine, these might be considered as: our healthcare system is broken; the failure to fix it will assist in bankrupting the country and unfairly prevent millions in America from obtaining healthcare; the synthesis given is a one-payer, socialized system overseen by a more efficient government bureaucracy…from cradle to grave. Through a process of gradualism, employed in the case made for socialized healthcare, the public is exposed to these ideas many times over a period of years: eventually coming to tolerate, and finally accept or even embrace them with the assistance of our controlled media.
    A much smaller percentage of the population alive today can recall the days in which Medicine was a cottage industry, representing the best interests of the patient with mininal government interference. As I point out in my article, “A Path to Healthcare Serfdom”, published in The St. Croix Review in December, 2008, Health Savings Accounts provide a means of preserving the freedom of choice inherent in the doctor-patient relationship, while reducing the costs of moral hazard found in spending someone else’s money via Managed Care. There really are other options for ‘change’ in healthcare besides handing over our profession and the future health of our patients to the government. The Dialectic hopes to confuse in this instance by offering a singular Synthesis.

  4. The push to electronic records is dangerous, expensive and will not benefit a single patient–and subject doctors to outrageous scrutiny. The NY Times of 2-15-09 states that the internet is not private and can not be made private. The VA system is the perfect example of what is wrong with electronic records and socialized medicine.

    Health Savings Accounts are the best option to improve the health of Americans. The book published by AAPS is wonderful and should be sent to as many politicians and decision makers as possible.

    The current legal system destroys many lives and costs much more than health care. My own son was tortured to death in jail in WV by the guards. Many people are tortured in US jails. This is a horrible system and punishes the poor. We need to close jails and use that money for true rehabilitation. Katy Hoover

  5. I am not a doctor, and I have been blessed with good health. However, because I am 62, would probably be denied health care should I need it under socialized medicine.

    Therefore, I would like to fight against socialized medicine.

    Are there tea party-like events to protest socialized medicine? What can I join? Can I help with mailings? Who is fighting this? Is everyone asleep? Someone gave me the name of your organization and I am deeply appreciative that you, at least, are fighting.

    I have contacted American Cancer, American Heart, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Lung and a host of senior citizen centers but no one seems interested.

    I have written to my elected officials and they are all in favor of socialized medicine.

    My husband has leukemia and lymphoma.

    Buffy

  6. Buffy above is unfortunately encountering the reality that all those ‘organizations’ as well as the ‘elected officials’ are heavily invested in the system – they receive money and power taken by force from taxpayers, including the many ‘hidden’ taxes (i.e. bread isn’t officially taxed, but the price reflects the store/supply chain/farm wage taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, etc.). So none of those entities have much incentive to change things, despite their rhetoric. No doubt many of them feel they ARE doing ‘good things’ and to some degree they are – but with stolen monies. Also, if the free market were in charge as it used to be, we’d have superior products and services across theo board (not just in health care), charitable care would be decided and administered locally in real-time on a case-by-case basis, and NOBODY would ever have to pay more than they thought fair for a given service, NOBODY would be forced to provide service or product for less than they felt fair, and any supply/demand mismatch would be solved FAR more quickly than our ‘system’ can possibly address it, even in the rare instances when our system actually works. Bottom line is that we really don’t NEED a ‘system’ and we certainly don’t need government to intrude. The free market DOES provide perfection; those who say our bad situation is a result of ‘failure’ of the free market are delusional – to the extent our system is dysfunctional it is BECAUSE the government has ‘stepped in’ to moderate the free market. As usual, what they say they want to fix they will wind up destroying.

  7. To Buffy ,our esteemed doctors and nurses and anyone else interested in speaking out on this issue!

    Yes there are tea party organizations all across the nation that are organizing at all levels and fighting the pending destruction of our Health Care as it is among the most important issues.

    We realize that not only are the current regimes plans a prescription for early death, and inferior care- for the expensive bookend people; the very young and the elderly, it also represents a gateway onto a permanent path to serfdom under socialism.

    We especially invite the doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to join the fight being undertaken by other very busy people, who are not funded and do not represent the current political system- we are called the teaparty movement.

    For more information I suggest you visit my site above which should lead you to groups in your area.
    You should also look for groups at http://www.surgeusa.org/surging.htm
    to locate a local group and see their plans!

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