Tag Archives: Government health care

Wichita tea party planned to protest government-run health care

WICHITA — Healthcare is the focus of another round of tea parties taking place this week across the country. The Kansas chapter of the grassroots group Americans for Prosperity will organize a rally this Friday in Wichita.

The Wichita protest, at 11 a.m. Friday, July 17 outside Sen. Sam Brownback’s office (245 N. Waco, Wichita), will be held simultaneously with hundreds of other local tea parties nationwide outside the offices of members of Congress.

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European health care rationing boards: coming to America?

Following up on a letter in the Wichita Eagle written by Brad Beachy of Wichita: He’s making the case that nationalized health care of the type found in Europe is both cheaper and better than what we have in America.

Cheaper, yes. Better? Let’s take a look.

Beachy, in his letter, states: “European countries such as England spend about 8 percent of their gross domestic product on health care while covering every single resident.”

The eight percent of GDP figure is commonly cited, and that’s about half what the United States spends. So how does England do it?

Last week I reported on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the board in England founded about 10 years ago as “a body that would ensure that the government-run National Health System used ‘best practices’ in medicine.” (We hear phrases like this from Obama. As if the government would know what are “best practices.”)

But something different happened: “What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS.”

The Journal article details a few examples of care that is denied in England, but most Americans get.

There are real consequences: “The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.”

One of the reasons used by those in favor of national health care is that sometimes insurance companies won’t cover treatments people feel they should receive. A government rationing board — we will have one in America if Obama’s plans proceed — is likely to be much more harsh.

World Health Organization ranking biased, not reliable

A letter in the Wichita Eagle written by Brad Beachy of Wichita makes the case for “so-called socialized medicine” to be brought to the United States. Part of Beachy’s argument relies on a ranking produced by the World Health Organization. That ranking has a number of problems.

The ranking Beachy refers to was produced in 2000, and hasn’t been updated since then. So it’s getting a little old. Worse than that, it contains a number of techniques and biases that work against countries that rely on markets instead of government to provide health care.

A recent paper from the Cato Institute provides some useful analysis of the World Health Organization rankings. (See WHO’s Fooling Who? The World Health Organization’s Problematic Ranking of Health Care Systems)

For example, there are two sets of rankings. As the Cato report explains: “One ranking claims to measure “overall attainment” (OA) while another claims to measure “overall performance” (OP). These two indices are constructed from the same underlying data, but the OP index is adjusted to reflect a country’s performance relative to how well it theoretically could have performed.”

Using the OP rankings, the United States is number 37. But using the OA rankings, the United States is 15.

25% of a country’s ranking is based on “financial fairness,” which is determined by looking at the “dispersion in the percentage of household income spent on health care.” As the reports says “The FF factor is not an objective measure of health attainment, but rather reflects a value judgment that rich people should pay more for health care, even if they consume the same amount.”

The report notes this introduces a bias against countries that rely on market mechanisms for paying for health care.

There’s another problem with FF, too: “Put more simply, the FF penalizes a country because some households are especially likely to become impoverished from health costs—but it also penalizes a country because some households are especially unlikely to become impoverished from health costs. In short, the FF factor can cause a country’s rank to suffer because of desirable outcomes.”

The Cato study goes on to document additional problems with the WHO ranking. Problems with the rankings were noticed earlier, too. An earlier analysis of this report from Cato (We’re Number 37 in Health Care! concluded this:

Overall, the WHO rankings’ mathematical formulations serve only to distract attention from the authors’ underlying distaste for individual choice in health care. The report largely ignores the extraordinary benefits the American marketplace brings to health care worldwide, such as new drugs, advanced diagnostic instruments such as MRIs and CAT scans, and lifesaving therapies for cancer and heart-disease patients. Under a WHO-style health care system, lifesaving research and innovation would be stifled and individual choice would be discarded in favor of collective control. Bureaucrats would decide who receives care — and who does not — on the basis of statistical tallies that devalue the lives of the elderly, the disabled and the chronically ill.

By contrast, a free-market health care system upholds the right of every person to make his own decisions. Patients are given choices, not issued numbers, and doctors are freed from impersonal “expert panels” dictating what care they can and cannot provide. The WHO’s idea of government-provided universal health care is a fantasy that masks a system of dangerous, formula-based rationing. If you value your health, don’t trust the WHO.

In Wichita, protest of ABC’s Obama coverage

Here’s a message from a local patriot and activist. She is rightly concerned about ABC News — the national organization, not the local affiliate — and its upcoming coverage of the Obama administration:

Protest in Wichita in front of ABC affiliate KAKE news TV at 1500 N. West St., Wichita this Wednesday, June 24th starting at 4 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Please join us! We are protesting how ABC is propagandizing the American public and deceiving them.

What is she concerned about? The editorial ABC Self-Nationalizes For Obama supplies some background:

Media Bias: As much of the U.S. private sector, including health care providers, resists government takeovers, what a sorry sight to see ABC News leap forward to make itself a propaganda arm of the government. … This Wednesday, on every show from “Good Morning America” (kicking things off with an interview with the president) to “World News Tonight” (broadcast from the Blue Room) to a prime-time special called “Prescription for America” (and emanating from the East Room), the network will puff the Obama administration’s trillion-dollar plan to nationalize U.S. health care. …

This isn’t your grandfather’s propaganda. Forget public service announcements. Just as some newspaper ads trick themselves up to look like news stories to enhance their credibility, making a partisan program indistinguishable from the nightly “news” is a propaganda tool in the same vein. … Under the cover of news, ABC can present the president’s side of the health reform issue as “factual” and leave out the real costs and concerns about government control and rationing of health care. …

The best proof that the public is getting propaganda is that ABC is refusing to take ads from critics who are offering to pay for them. Among those turned away: the Republican National Committee and a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights. …

It all amounts to a sad corruption of American journalism. Once upon a time, people would go into journalism to expose the seamy underbelly of American politics. Today, ABC News, in its abject submission to the Obama administration on health care, has decided to become the seamy underbelly.

For more information about the event, contact Larry Halloran at [email protected]. Click to get a Google map to the location.

Government health care rations by making patients wait

David Gratzer, a physician born and raised in Canada, gives us in the United States a preview of what government health care is all about: the waiting.

His recent Wall Street Journal piece is titled Canada’s ObamaCare Precedent: Governments always ration care by making you wait. That can be deadly.

He tells this story: “But Canadians wait for practically any procedure or diagnostic test or specialist consultation in the public system. The problems were brought home when a relative had difficulty walking. He was in chronic pain. His doctor suggested a referral to a neurologist; an MRI would need to be done, then possibly a referral to another specialist. The wait would have stretched to roughly a year. If surgery was needed, the wait would be months more. Not wanting to stay confined to his house, he had the surgery done in the U.S., at the Mayo Clinic, and paid for it himself.”

An Ontario woman with a 40-pound liquid-filled tumor in her abdomen was within weeks of death when an American surgeon — working in Michigan — removed the tumor.

“Ironically, as the U.S. is on the verge of rushing toward government health care, Canada is reforming its system in the opposite direction.” In 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court “struck down key laws in Quebec that established a government monopoly of health services.” Private-sector health care is growing in Canada, with 50,000 patients per year seeing private doctors in British Columbia. The United Kingdom and Sweden have initiated reforms, moving away from total government control.

Dr. Gratzer asks “Why are [Americans] rushing into a system of government-dominated health care when the very countries that have experienced it for so long are backing away?”

Wichita’s Galichia provides what government health care doesn’t

A recent editorial in The Wichita Eagle (Dr. Bill Roy: Universal care is most economic, efficient) contains several mistaken impressions. One may be disproved by recent developments in Wichita.

The writer states “It has never been a secret that a single-payer system is the most economic, efficient and fair way of providing universal care.” Here’s something interesting that I’m sure the author of this opinion piece knows, but somehow disregards. In Canada, home to the type of health care system the writer favors, many people come to the United States for care. In fact, Wichita is now providing service to Canadians who, for one reason or another, are not satisfied with their own government-provided free care. “[Wichita’s] Galichia Heart Hospital treated its first out-of-country patient last month, a Canadian who needed a hip replacement and was willing to pay cash instead of waiting months — or even years — for what is considered elective surgery in Canada.” (Some U.S. hospitals try to draw foreigners with flat-rate care, May 29, 2008 Wichita Eagle.)

Someone needing a hip replacement in the United States probably doesn’t consider their need for surgery to be “elective.”

While we in the United States may complain about high drug costs and drug advertisements on television and in print, at least we have new drugs. We may complain about waiting a few weeks to see a specialist, but we usually get to see one. And some people complain that expensive advanced medical equipment has been installed in two of Wichita’s hospitals, when one should be sufficient. But we have these things. Countries with government health care often don’t: “All provinces continue to use rationing in an effort to contain the growth in government health spending. Governments ration health care with policies that reduce the effective supply of health professionals, reduce the availability of advanced medical equipment, and restrict the scope of coverage for new medicines under public drug insurance plans. Such rationing drives up waits for specialist medical care and inhibits access to new drugs.”

This passage is from a report titled Paying More, Getting Less 2007 from Canada’s Fraser Institute. The report makes this conclusion: “Based on the data and analysis in this report, we conclude that public health insurance, as it is currently structured in Canada, tends to produce rates of growth in government spending on health care that are not financially sustainable through public means alone. This is occurring while governments are restricting and reducing the scope of benefits covered under publicly funded health insurance.”