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President Obama’s proposed health bill has two frightening goals. One, it mandates, either directly or indirectly, universal tax funding for all abortions for any reason. More broadly, it would impose the failed Canadian-style socialized medicine on our entire nation.
Before he was elected, Barack Obama stated, “In my mind, reproductive care [abortion] is essential care, basic care, so it is at the center, the heart of the plan that I propose.” It has become increasingly obvious that he will leave no stone unturned to achieve his anti-life goals. This would ultimately require workers, employers and all taxpayers to fund abortion-on-demand through universal “health” abortion coverage.
But his Affordable Health Choices Act doesn’t even mention abortion. They learned their lesson through the rather dramatic failure of Hillary Clinton’s socialized medicine proposal one-and-a-half decades ago. This new bill creates a Medical Advisory Council which will make all decisions. But who appoints the members of this Council? It is none other than the aggressively pro-abortion, Kathleen Sebelius, now Secretary of Health and Human Services. Further, Secretary Sebelius would have the authority to impose any and all such regulations that she feels would “improve” the health of the nation.
We are told that those who have current private plans will be able to keep them, but it is not that simple. If you change jobs or move to another state you will have to switch to a recognized, qualifying plan. Who decides what a qualifying plan is? Surprise, it’s the Medical Advisory Council. Also, as your children mature and sign up for their own policies, they will only be offered the ones acceptable to the Medical Advisory Council.
And what if you operate a church, religious school or non-profit organization? There is nothing in the proposed bill that would give your employees a right to carry a policy that excludes abortion. Recent polls show that over 80% of Americans are satisfied with and want to keep their current private health insurance policies, many of which do not cover abortion. Little by little, as the above groups move, change their policies and get new ones, the traditional private policies will wither, and eventually every American will be forced to enroll in the compulsory, government socialized medicine.
Another negative is if a specific test will help, but the new government rules won’t pay for it, you may decide to do the test and pay for it yourself. Sorry, the new government plan makes such private pay illegal.
But What about Canada?
The Canadian medical scheme is being held up by this administration as a success and one to imitate, but don’t get too sick in Canada. Canadians wait an average of eighteen weeks for ordinary surgery, thirty-eight weeks for orthopedic surgery and twenty-seven weeks for neurosurgery. If you need an implantable defibrillator to prevent a fatal heart attack, the wait is so long doctors often do not even bother to apply. Children wait months and sometimes a year for a tonsillectomy, to have tubes put in their ears and other needs.
And special tests? As a physician, I recall, years ago, when we installed our third CT scanner in Cincinnati, there were only three such scanners in all of Canada. Now there are more, but there is a waiting time. You will wait seventy-two days for a CT scan and over 230 days for an MRI. If you are a cancer patient and need a PET scan, sorry, there are only a few and they are being used in clinical trials. South of the border your wait is about one week, and for a CT scan it is done immediately if needed. But note that for a CT or an MRI in Canada there is an exception to the above. If your dog is in major trouble, your veterinarian can have a CT scan done within one day.
Another answer for Canadian citizens is to leave the country. Up to one-third of them have stated they would be willing to spend their own money to come to the US to have such care when it is, for all practical purposes, unavailable in Canada.
A personal observation might be in order. Our daughter practices internal medicine in a suburb of Cincinnati. She and her two partners practice good medicine, but probably not much different in quality than hundreds of other similar physicians in our area. Yet, she has a slow but constant stream of Europeans and Canadians flying into our medium-size city and coming to her group for proper care, which they cannot obtain back home and for which they are willing to pay cash.
In Canada, non-acute cases wait in line, but aren’t emergencies taken care of? Here is a media report from Toronto a few weeks ago, “Every night neurosurgeons are on call in a handful of hospitals in Toronto. They field calls from physicians across the city and the province. These doctors desperately need to transfer patients and often minutes count, for instance in a patient with a brain hemorrhage. But very frequently inadequate resources block the door. There is no bed left in the intensive care unit. Other hospitals are called. Time is wasted and sometimes as a life-saving measure the patient is sent to Buffalo, New York, where beds and care are readily available.”
President Obama would bring all Americans into a socialized medical scheme, but before mimicking Canada and Europe, we should look more closely at these countries. If so, we will find that in many ways they are now turning away from government medicine and back to private care. In the Canadian province of British Columbia, private clinics now perform 80% of government-funded diagnostic testing. In Britain, commenting on its socialized medicine scheme, the labor government’s spokesperson recently said, “The big trouble with the state monopoly is that it builds in massive inefficiencies and an inward looking culture.” In an attempt to remedy some of this built-in culture, the private sector in Britain now provides about 5% of its non-emergency procedures and the current socialist labor government hopes to triple that.
What is the Cost?
Originally President Obama estimated the cost at over 600 billion dollars. Now everyone agrees it is more than 1 trillion with other astute observers like Senator Hatch saying it will exceed 1.5 trillion. In addition to this, Mr. Obama’s plans call for adding nutrition counseling, obesity screening, wellness programs, in-school physical fitness, more nutritious school lunches, bike paths, walking paths and the establishment of grocery stores in underserved areas. Where is all this money coming from? Apparently, from government printing presses, increasingly suffocating taxes and, (hold your breath) 400 billion dollars in cuts to Medicare and Medi-caid (which have insufficient funding now).
An interesting aspect of the cost factor is that while expenditures for health care in the US have continued to rise, cost for food, appliances, computers, etc. have dropped so that money previously spent for these other things is now being spent for health care with the overall totals remaining about the same. (Feb. 2008 report of the National Health Statistics Group of the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
Another very telling fact that has recently surfaced is the admission by the architects of the Democrat Health Plan that it would not cover all citizens, but only a portion.
A Proper Solution
It seems obvious that Mr. Obama’s plan involves a slow nationwide dummying down of the care that is now available in this country. We are bombarded by repetitious numbers of how many people do not have health insurance in the US. What we are not told is that no one goes without care. These people go to a hospital emergency room for care. This, however, is extremely inefficient. Government bureaucrats in these other countries have cut costs, but only by shrinking access to health care and in many cases, creating nightmares of overflowing emergency rooms and year-long waits for treatment.
Does America need a better model? Yes, but let’s not look to Canada or most of Europe. In other fields such as telecommunications, retail, deregulation and market competition have driven prices down and driven quality and productivity up. Health care is long overdue for the same treatment. For too long we have been locked into having most of our workers get their health care through payroll deductions at their places of employment. This has sharp limitations of quality, portability and accessibility. We must de-couple health insurance from payroll deductions and transfer it directly to each family.
We need more freedom, rather than more government, in the American health care system. The need has never been greater. Reform should begin by allowing people to own their own health insurance, certainly not by a government bureaucracy managing a compulsory, inefficient and inevitably rationed government program. So the answer is shifting the cost from the level of the provider down to the individual and family level. Everyone should be able to get a defined level of basic health insurance but through a different mechanism. A scheme that would give to each citizen a certain sum of money with which they would obtain private care might well be the solution. If you manage your own care, you would be able to keep the dollars that you didn’t spend because you would do it more efficiently. If each year, a person was delegated such a sum which they could save in a segregated account, they might think twice before going to the emergency room for a minor problem. They just might be able to seek out a cheaper care giver. If such funds would accumulate over a person’s lifetime, many people would be able to retire with significant sums of money which could then be used to help secure their later years. Obviously, there would have to be some additional provision for catastrophic expenses.
In summary then, we probably don’t have all the alternative answers yet. What is obvious, however, is that the proposed compulsory health plan from Obama would not solve the problem. Rather it would be counterproductive, as it would stifle and all but eliminate medical research and progress. It would give us the long waiting lists we find in other socialized countries, and many more people would die while on interminable waiting lists. Importantly, if the President has his way, it will fund unlimited abortion-on-demand and the number of unborn babies being killed will skyrocket.
With due concern, research and detail let’s explore other ways to correct some of the obvious problems that now exist, but let’s do it within a mantle of personal freedom as well as protection for the most vulnerable among us.