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Obamacare – The Wrong Side Of History

November 19, 2009

Nicholas D. Kristof writes today in The New York Times a column lashing out at the critics of Obamacare.  He compares us to the opponents of Social Security and Medicare whom, he said, used the same “bogymen” arguments about socialist programs, killing jobs etc.  He said that those members of Congress who “flinch” and let health care reform fail will be “on the wrong side of history.”

In touting the success of Medicare in particular, Mr.  Kristof shows how wrong he is.  Medicare is facing bankruptcy.  It is fraught with abuse and waste.  More and more doctors are pulling out of the system because they simply cannot afford to participate.  Whatever good Medicare may have done in helping to ensure health care for the elderly who need it, it is far from being a model of success that would give Americans any comfort in how a much larger government-run program will operate.

In fact, as an admission of the fraud and waste besetting Medicare today, the sponsors of Obamacare intend to pay a sizable chunk of its cost by making massive cuts in Medicare, claiming that the services will not be diminished.  If that were so, why haven’t these cuts been made already to save Medicare from looming bankruptcy?

History shows that large government-run programs are inefficient, politicized and inevitably lead to a race towards the lowest common denominator of service.   The debacles of government-run health care in Canada and the United Kingdom are staring us in the face.  But, even putting those glaring debacles aside, we have a demonstration today of how incompetent the government is when it cannot even manage getting the swine flu vaccines out on the schedule that it promised us months ago.    And now we are being asked to turn over one-sixth of our economy to government control!

Those who say that there will not be government control once Obamacare is passed have their heads in the sand.  The government will be setting health care standards.  It will be making the rules that private insurance companies must follow while unfairly competing with its public option in the same markets that it regulates .  There are no strict controls on illegal immigrant participation in at least the unsubsidized health insurance plans to be offered on the government-established exchanges, which means more demand for patient care chasing after fewer doctors willing to participate.  That is a prescription for rationed care.

What all this means is that the level of health care which people who have insurance today will deteriorate.  New taxes and penalties will be imposed on small businesses and individuals who wish to exercise their freedom of choice and opt out of health insurance.  The deficit will grow down the line as spending on the benefits balloon while the tax revenue built up in the early years of the program are exhausted.  

Instead of seeking bipartisan support for eliminating insurance industry abuses such as denial of coverage to policyholders who become gravely ill, targeting government subsidies and incentives to those citizens and legal residents who truly need help in obtaining affordable insurance, setting up exchanges where private insurance firms alone can compete across state lines, and eliminating frivilous malpractice lawsuits and egregious penalties for ‘pain and suffering’ that drive up malpractice insurance rates, the Democratic Party leaders in Congress and President Obama want it all their way.   They want to ram a disastrous program down the throats of the American people even though a majority of Americans do not want government-run health care.

Faulting an ill-conceived program is not “demonizing universal health care” as Kristof would have us believe.  It is performing the duty of every citizen to keep this country from being on the wrong side of history and from defying common sense.

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5 Comments
  1. November 19, 2009 9:53 am

    Anyone using Medicare as a model to tout the virtues of government-run healthcare has no clue! And, Obamacare will cost this nation another million lost jobs. Most of them will be high-paying jobs which will never return. In my industry, medical sales, we have already seen the loss of 30,000 jobs in medical sales as companies prepare for reform.

  2. November 19, 2009 9:54 am

    You may learn more about the negative impact of Obamacare on medical device sales jobs by visiting http://www.gorillamedicalsales.com/blog

  3. November 19, 2009 11:27 am

    Obamacare will force millions of Americans into a state-run health care system from which there is no escape or appeal. Who sues (and wins) a state-run anythingi?

    However, if you’re rich, famous, or well-connected you will always be able to get top-notch medical care. The best doctors will simply set up shop outside the U.S., and only the priviliged will have access to them. Carnival Cruises will make money hand over fist selling package deals to these medical havens. I can envision a health care equivalent of Al Gore trading “medical credits” so hospitals can perform more than the mandated maximum number of surgeries. There will always be a way to game the system. Member of Congress are banking on it. Otherwise, they would have squashed this monstrosity long ago.

    Obamacare is for “ordinary” Americans, like you and me. It was never intended for the political elite, the rich, the famous, and other “extra-special” Americans.

  4. Bob permalink
    November 20, 2009 4:17 am

    Calling for “eliminating frivilous malpractice lawsuits and egregious penalties for ‘pain and suffering’” is like treating the symptoms, not the disease.

    What we actually need is true malpractice reform to reduce malpractice in the first place. National Practitioner Data Bank data shows that in most states only about two percent of physicians have been responsible for over half of all the money paid out for malpractice since 1990. NPDB data also shows that quite often these two percent have multiple payments in their records but no action by state licensing boards to revoke their licenses or restrict their practices. Similarly, most often no action has been taken by hospital peer reviewers to revoke or restrict their clinical privileges. So the “repeat offenders” continue commit more malpractice.

    To have true malpractice reform the licensing boards and peer reviewers need to get serious about protecting the public from physicians with a pattern of malpractice.

    It is also worth noting that there are fewer than 20,000 malpractice payments each year for all causes although the Institute of Medicine estimates that there are about 100,000 deaths each year from malpractice. Other sources double that number. Only about 28 percent of malpractice payments involve patient death. Thus we can estimate that at most only about 3 to 6 percent of all malpractice victims receive any malpractice payment.

    The real problem isn’t malpractice payments. To save money — and more importantly, to save lives and prevent injury — we need true malpractice reform that reduces malpractice itself. We need to stop treating the symptoms — malpractice payments — and instead treat the disease — malpractice.

  5. John Davidson permalink
    November 20, 2009 7:07 am

    I would like someone to name one government run agency that does not waste money. Just one.

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