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Obama Will Ration Health Care!: Wake Up America: Part 2

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:39pm

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

Mr. Obama has promised a quick, hard push to overhaul the healthcare system. Americans can expect a quick push to build a larger federal bureaucracy, impose price controls, restrict the use of new medications and technologies, boost taxes, mandate the purchase of health insurance, and expand government control of health care. This is the promise Mr. Daschle made in his book "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,"

If Mr. Obama continues on the present path the prognosis is horrible for patients, physicians and taxpayers. Tom Daschle’s excuse is the present system is an intolerable status quo. An intolerable status quo is not an excuse to destroy the healthcare system in America.

“In his book, Mr. Daschle proposes a National Health Board to regulate the way health care is provided. This board would have vast powers in regulating the massive federal health-care system -- a system that includes Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.”

Healthcare coverage will likely expand to greater government healthcare control. Businesses and corporations are anxious to get out of the business of providing healthcare coverage for their employees. They would rather pay the penalty proposed than provide unaffordable healthcare insurance for their employees. The result will be defacto socialized medicine before we know what hit us. Socialized medicine is Mr. Daschle’s plan for all Americans even though America can’t afford it. He is going to claim this is the plan the people want. I would add until the people realize the consequences of his plan.

“Given the opportunity, Mr. Daschle would likely charge the board with determining which treatments and drugs are cost effective and therefore permissible to use for patients covered by the government.”

“It is nearly certain that the process of determining which drugs and which treatments would be approved for use would be quickly politicized.”

The Federal Health Board will be made up of “expert clinicians” from academic centers who will determine what physicians can and cannot do. The enforcement of these rules will be impossible. The punitive weapon will be withdrawal of physician reimbursement. I have said over and over again that punitive measures do not work to force a workforce to comply.

“In his book, Mr. Daschle complains about overuse of new technology and praises the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a rationing system that controls government costs.”

Mr. Daschle believes that America needs to ration new technology and drugs because the cost of care is skyrocketing. Another reason is the government cannot afford to provide access to care. The result will be rationing of care rather than giving patients the freedom of choice. The British system is well known for restricting access to drugs and medical care.

He is ignoring the waste in administrative services outsourced to the healthcare insurance vendors. He is ignoring the inefficient billing practices of hospital systems. He is ignoring the responsibility patients have to adhere to treatment medications prescribed and the maintenance of their health. He is ignoring the fact that patients should be responsible for their health and their healthcare.

“Health care is personal and voters will pressure lawmakers on access to care. Americans will not put up with such limits, nor will our elected representatives.”

Mr. Daschle is claiming that through his community home meetings in December people are demanding the changes he is proposing. I believe once the voters realize what he is proposing the will voice the opposite opinion.

Managed care of the 1990’s was nothing more that managed cost. It provided the healthcare insurance industry with the opportunity to place restrictions on access to care and decrease reimbursement to vendors. It temporarily reduced the increase in the costs of care. However, managed care failed work because the public objected to the restrictions and it did not hold down costs. The HMO experiment failed for the same reason.

Tom Daschle has learned something from these lessons. He learned that he has to strike quickly and deflect the decisions about rationing of care to a “neutral board” and not the market. It is clear he does not respect the intelligence of the consumer. He does not understand the responsibility of the consumer. If he was doing this right he would be going after the abuses in the system and not the decision making engine in the system.

Tom Daschle is in the process of creating a giant HMO. It will fail as the Massachusetts experiment has failed.

“Mr. Daschle's model is Massachusetts. But Massachusetts's plan is an unfolding disaster and demonstrates how Mr. Daschle's private/public model is merely a stalking horse for government-dominated health care.”

Massachusetts helped 442,000 people obtain healthcare insurance. However an additional 80,000 people were put on Medicaid. 176,000 people were put on government subsided healthcare insurance. The cost to taxpayers has exploded because the basic cause of increased cost of care has not been addressed. The healthcare insurance industry control over the healthcare dollar has to be reduced. The onset of chronic disease and the reduction of the complications of chronic disease must be attacked effectively.

“Costs have exploded, requiring additional tax hikes and the entire system is only possible due to sizable transfers from the federal government. The plans are so unaffordable that in 2007, 62,000 people were exempted from the individual mandate.

So much for universal coverage. It could work if the consumer controlled their healthcare dollars with the government protecting the consumer.

The only way the Massachusetts plan will survive is with continued and increasing federal subsidies -that is, tax revenue from the residents of other states.

Tom Daschle’s plan is going to follow the same misguided path. The problem is worse the healthcare system becomes the harder it will be to dig our way out.

Wake up America

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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