Death Panels, Single-Payer Healthcare, and a Couple of Solutions

Our healthcare system is broken. There is little doubt about that, and most people want some kind of reform. What many people don’t seem to want is the government running our healthcare system. They can’t run the mail system efficiently (even BO admits this), and getting a driver’s license is a nightmare, not to mention that the Cash for Clunkers government program went bankrupt in a matter of days. The government does not have a good track record in running anything from veteran’s care to Medicare to social security, so why on earth would we trust them with our health, our lives?

Death Panels: From BO’s Own Mouth

There is, as usual, a lot of hysteria out there, particularly on the topic of “death panels.” The democrats would have us believe that this is a vast right-wing conspiracy that has no basis in truth. But the actual truth of this matter is that BO himself opened that door in an interview with New York Times Magazine (they just love him over there, too, and are certainly not right wing).

Following his bizarre “red pill/blue pill” discussion in which he revealed his plan to have the government enforce generic choices on patients (this is already done by some insurance companies, by the way), he mentions end of life care. To this vague and unfinished thought, the reporter said, “Yes, where it’s $20,000 for an extra week of life.” To this prompt, BO launched into a rambling story about his grandmother’s final days (weeks, months, whatever). He ended this disjointed blather by saying:

So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But
that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?
I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

Okay, so what’s unclear about this, People? He’s saying that people cost too much money when they become too old or are terminally or chronically ill (note this is NOT just grandma–the elderly), and that the government should decide, based on cost, what happens to them.

It’s right there in black and white. From the man’s own mouth. You’re sick, you’re going to die anyway, why hang around sucking the money from people who are younger, fitter, and may not die immediately? If the government makes this “difficult moral” decision based on cost, what do you have? You have a panel of government officials deciding who lives and who dies based on a cost / benefit analysis that does not take anything but cost into account, the benefit being saved public monies. “Death panel” is an alarmist term for it, sure, but ultimately, that’s what we’d have.

One of the responses to this from the Left is that this is what we have already with private insurance. And that’s true. The solution, however, is not to shift the “are you worth keeping around or are you going to cost us too much money?” decision from one group (insurance companies, that are businesses) to another, even less-qualified group (the federal government, also a business).

Paying for It

Another thing that people are upset about (and it really IS okay for people to be upset and to vocally express this upset despite the denigrating remarks about American citizens coming from the White House, the Left, and the media) is the cost of all this. Not the cost of procedures for the elderly near end of life or for the terminally ill of any age, but for the whole implementation of this health care plan. Trillions more dollars, on top of the bailouts, takeovers, Cash for Clunkers, and other useless and ineffective spending that this administration has engaged in over the past seven or eight months. Where is all this money coming from?

Mr. If You Make Less Than $250,000 You Will Not See Increased Taxes has played semantics with us yet again. Sure, he’s not (yet) touched income tax, but there are other ways to get money from tax payers. Like the cigarette tax that he signed; the majority of smokers in this country earn less (often FAR less) than $250k. Likewise, the money for all of his health care reforms are going to come in the form of taxes on people making less than $250k, but they’ll be attached to businesses and other backhanded ways that I’m guessing he thinks that anyone making less than $250k is too stupid to figure out. And that’s where he’s wrong. People are figuring it out (granted about 10 months too late, but hey! it’s at least happening), and they are not happy about it. Businesses will have a choice of paying a tiny tax to the public option for not providing better coverage to their employees and paying larger costs for offering better coverage. Gee, I wonder which “option” they’ll take?

First Step to Single-Payer Healthcare (AKA Socialized Medicine): Change You (Actually) Can Believe In

Obama has made clear all along that he supports a single-payer healthcare system (i.e. socialized medicine run by the government). He used to be very clear about it, enunciating each word with pride at his vision for a government that makes all healthcare decisions for all citizens (um, except members of Congress, the President, and I’m guessing, former presidents).

He is being disingenuous when he tells you that he wants you to have a choice. There will be no “choice” that is left up to you. At first, while there are still other health insurance option (for up to the next 20 years, according to BO himself), you’ll still be restricted by state laws limiting your choices, you’ll still be at the mercy of your employer (who will get nice incentives for pushing you into a public option), and you’ll still find COBRA, etc. exorbitant.

He’s lying to us all. This farce he’s putting forward now, this phony claim that you’ll still be able to maintain your private insurance is nothing but bait and switch. It’s the first step, he’s said this, to single-payer, government-run healthcare. Period.

Obama’s Approval Ratings Drop

His approval rating is dropping like a brick. Look at Rasmussen, look at Gallup; they clearly show that BO is losing ground fast. Personally, I don’t think this is related strictly to healthcare reform; it seems to me that he’s been losing ground since the take over of GM and the banking centralization. The man’s got the government involved in banking, the auto industry, real estate, and now healthcare? Too much, too soon, too fast. He’s like a kid in a candy store, but the owners are finally on to him.

So they (being the BO White House, the Left, and the media) demonize the people, everyday people–some of whom are independents or conservative democrats, who dare to voice their disapproval, calling them the “lunatic fringe” and the “far right loons.” Well, okay, but the bottom line is that people are angry, they are frightened, and THEY VOTE. Dismissing his falling approval ratings, attacking Americans who have the right to protest and express dissent peaceably, and basically plowing ahead blind and deaf to all criticism reminds me of someone else, actually. What other stubborn, narrow-visioned president have we had recently?

Government-Rationed Health Care Inevitable

While Obama’s heart may be in the right place (not that I think he has a heart, but assuming he did and assuming we buy his rhetoric), the ramifications of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system are truly frightening. They’ll have “x” number of dollars budgeted for healthcare (if it gets passed, it will be allocated funds, of course), and with that money (whatever amount it is), they will need to cover all the medical needs of all the people in this country. And though few are saying it, keep in mind that illegal immigrants will NOT be covered, so we’re still going to be footing the bill for their ER visits, etc.
HOW can the government do this? Well, the only way is to ration healthcare; there are not unlimited funds, and that can only mean that someone or someones has to decide who deserves what treatments and for how long. There is no other logical way for this “reform” to work. This is not utopia, we don’t have money growing on trees (though we are printing it so fast you’d think we did!), we don’t have a way to ensure the health and well-being of every American. Someone will decide this, and it won’t be you (though you’ll be paying for it).
It will be the government, that same government who currently decides which states get money for bridges, education, etc., that same government who makes these decisions based on back room dealings, PACs, and via other seedy and questionable means. And you want them deciding whether granny is “worth” life? Come on! This is much like what happened in the South with regard to the 15th Amendment. Sure, we’ll let blacks vote IF they pass a literacy test and jump through these ten hoops to prove they are worthy.
They will establish a set of guidelines (just the insurance companies have) that dictate what is acceptable health expense and what is not; the trouble with the single-payer system is that no one can bypass it. Currently, if your insurance company won’t cover a medical procedure, you at least have the option of getting it anyway, by paying for it yourself. That will not be an option once healthcare is centralized and controlled by the government. It’s bizarre to imagine that you might have to get a “back alley” hip replacement for grandma because according to government standards, she’s too old, frail, or terminally ill to be worth the expense, but hey, stranger things have happened.
“You Should Have the Same Healthcare Available to Members of Congress.” Not!
And keep in mind that NOT ONE member of Congress will be forced into this public, single-payer option. Not one. They will retain their excellent coverage. Let’s not point out that BO ran on the promise that every American should have access to that same coverage afforded to members of Congress. But that’s just a right wing conspiracy to use his own words and broken promises against him. Hmph!

Other Options for Healthcare Reform

BO acts like there are two choices for healthcare reform: the status quo or his plan. That’s just silly.

The primary problem with healthcare today is exorbitant costs. This creates a “trickle down” effect that ultimately results in many many Americans being un- or under-insured. What can we do that doesn’t put all the power of life and death into the hands of the government? Well, for a start, we can take a look at what we have. Currently, you can only purchase within your state, and taxes and costs make individual health insurance out of reach for the majority of the population not covered by their employer footing part of the bill and being able to get cheaper group rates for their employees. This is not true of homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, auto insurance, pet insurance, or any other kind of insurance. I can call a number of insurers and get quotes on all of these and select an affordable policy that meets my needs, but I can’t for my health insurance.

So how do we drive down costs in other areas of our lives? By opening the field to competition, that’s how (and it’s mighty American to boot). Lift the restrictions on who can purchase what insurance, and you’ll see rates plummet. That’s what happened in Massachusetts when they lifted their state mandated “single-price” policy on automobile insurance. Suddenly, auto insurers had to compete for our policies, and wonder of wonders, the prices dropped (my personal auto insurance was reduced to nearly half of what it had been for the same coverage!).

Another thing that we can do is to let the states make their own decisions (gasp!) regarding their uninsured. Radical that I am, I think that this is the best way to help people who are un- or under-insured. These are mostly people who are either un- or under-employed, so rolling some kind of state health insurance into other state benefits (unemployment, food stamps, welfare, etc.) would make more sense than forcing everyone who is not receiving these benefits into a government-run “public option.”

Granted, this would involve both increased taxes and federal involvement (they fork out some of–and in some states most of–the funds for these programs), but it wouldn’t be a wholesale turning over to the federal government all matters of personal healthcare. Personally, I don’t understand why more states don’t offer some kind of health insurance policy for its citizens on these programs (Massachusetts does because of its screwed up mandatory health insurance policies, but that is one aspect that seems worth the expense).

These are relatively low-cost (compared to BO’s through the roof spending proposals on healthcare), non-intrusive solutions that can be implemented quickly. But as usual, our government doesn’t want low-cost, non-intrusive programs. That should tell you something, right?

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