Health care notes

B.C. health minister shows sound instincts on healthcare

On Wednesday, Mr. [Kevin] Falcon [British Columbia’s Minister of Health] made a remark to the effect that he was in favour of allowing Canadians to use their own money to leave the public queue and buy expedited access to health treatments in the private sector.

…Mr. Falcon later called back to “clarify” his remarks; unfortunately, it was not possible for Ms. Fayerman to capture details of the undoubtedly entertaining dressing-down that the Minister received in the meantime from his senior staff. ( “You said what?”)

Mr. Falcon explained that of course he had only been referring to medically non-necessary services, and that “we don’t have the right” to allow people to seek private, voluntary alternatives when it comes to services considered “necessary” under the Canada Health Act.

Health care isn’t being rationed in Canada. It’s just illegal for people pay for the “medically necessary” part of it out of their own pocket. If health care were free, would who paid matter? In any event, Canadians have access to a private plan called the United States.

OTOH, Government Health Plans Always Ration Care

…a bill released by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The bill calls for a “Medical Advisory Council” to determine what medical products and services are “essential benefits” and those that shouldn’t be covered by a public insurance plan.

The Senate Finance Committee turns to a “Federal Health Board” to compare similar medical treatments in order to steer reimbursement to lower-cost options. …[and] a “sustainability commission” charged with finding automatic cuts to Medicare spending that would then pass Congress by a simple up or down vote.

…a draft health-care reform proposal introduced last week in the House of Representatives by the three committees with jurisdiction over health policy set up an independent “advisory committee” that will “recommend a benefit package based on standards set in the law.” It also proposes a new “commission” that may, among other things, help develop treatment protocols based on government-directed research.

… such bodies are typically advisory, and their advice is free to be rejected or modified by the president. Under the HELP committee’s plan, the health board’s recommendations would be binding unless Congress acts within a brief period to pass a “joint resolution disapproving such report in its entirety.”

… Like Medicare’s recent decisions to curtail the use of virtual colonoscopies, certain wound-healing devices, and even a branded asthma drug, the board’s decisions will be one-size-fits-all restrictions. Such restrictions don’t respect variation in preferences and disease, which make costly products suitable for some even if they are wasteful when prescribed to everyone.

Which might explain why our President refuses to be bound by the public health plan he assures us will guarantee everyone the same choices they always had. He wants to keep his own options open for some reason.

EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Defends Right to Choose Best Care

President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people — like the president himself — wouldn’t face.

…Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.

The headline is a tad misleading. He’s only defending his own right to choose, not yours. Later in that White House infomercial Charlie

… Gibson asked the president if it doesn’t make sense to decide what the limitations will be on options in any health care reform proposal before voting on it.

“That’s what people are afraid of,” Gibson said.

The president said he understood the American people “know they’re living with the devil, but the devil they know instead of the devil they don’t.”

By “devil they don’t” our President seems to mean that same vague plan he is not willing to commit his family to at this time. In other words, some bill our Representatives will not have read, deliberated or understood when they vote on it.

If Obama is not entirely ready to commit his family’s health to this boondoggle, it should not surprise us that large Unions want their members to get a pass on being taxed to pay for it. Nor should anyone should be shocked that Ted Kennedy wants to ensure that Congressmen and Senators are not inconvenienced by any health care legislation they might pass. Beware Obamacare’s Fine Print

In a desperate scramble to pay for the soaring costs of President Obama’s health care plan, the Senate Finance Committee is contemplating taxing for the first time the health insurance benefits workers get from their employers. One approach would tax the benefits only of workers earning over $100,000. An alternate proposal would tax the value of health care benefits that exceed a cap.

But the taxes wouldn’t be applied equally. Union members serving under collective bargaining agreements would be exempt, even though they often have the richest and most extensive packages of benefits. Union officials have told Democratic leaders of Congress that because collective bargaining agreements can last several years, they should be exempt from any tax because contracts can’t be changed quickly enough to avoid it.

…There’s a reason the Obama health care plan is being rushed through Congress this summer — because the American people would likely never support it if given time to absorb and understand such fine print. If the union carve-out isn’t sufficient to excite public anger, wait till you hear about the version of the Obama plan prepared by Senator Edward Kennedy, which would specifically exempt Members of Congress from many of its provisions.

And that brings us, full circle, to rationing: Obama discusses deathbed measures

President Obama suggested at a town hall event Wednesday night that one way to shave medical costs is to stop expensive and ultimately futile procedures performed on people who are about to die and don’t stand to gain from the extra care.

In a nationally televised event at the White House, Obama said families need better information so they don’t unthinkingly approve “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care.”

Maybe, but I don’t want those questions decided by some bureaucrat based on information parsed through a political committee established by Congress to protect Congress from accountability for life and death decisions, especially if the committee powers are established based on a 1200 page law no one in Congress ever read before they passed it, and didn’t need to because they would be exempt from its provisions anyway.

Feeling represented? See you at a Tea Party.

3 thoughts on “Health care notes”

  1. This is just one more reminder that the only real way to keep our economy strong is not by raising taxes, but by keeping taxes low, fair and simple. We need to take action and contact our legislators and sign petitions like the ones the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs (here).

  2. @LorneBy “money in the economy” let's presume you mean the value created in the economy. Almost all of this value is created by private productive individuals and organizations. The allocation of that value is properly vested in free markets. The government's legitimate role is to take a very small portion of that value and use it to provide its legitimate services. High taxes reduce “money in the economy”. Low taxes increase it.Thomas Sowell has written an excellent overview titled “Basic Economics”. Henry Hazlitt's “Economics is One Lesson” is good too, but maybe not quite as accessible.