Monday, June 22, 2009

Pew survey on healthcare reform

LESS support for reform than in '93!

The survey finds that as Congress opens a major debate over reforming the nation’s health care system, public opinion about the issue has changed somewhat since President Clinton launched his unsuccessful effort to pass an overhaul of health care in 1993.

There continues to be widespread support for changing the health care system so that all Americans have insurance that covers all medically necessary care: 75% favor this currently, while 21% are opposed. However, the percentage favoring this proposal is down from 83% in April 1993. Similarly, while a large majority (61%) believes it is very important to limit annual increases in health care costs, fewer say that now than did so 16 years ago (69%).

When asked which is more important – to control annual cost increases or guarantee all Americans access to needed care – a majority (56%) says that it is more important to provide access to necessary medical care for all Americans while 36% say it is more important to control health care costs. In 1993, the public also opted for guaranteed access to care for all, but by a greater margin (74% to 20%).

Perhaps the most important change since 1993 is in the public’s assessment of how much change the current health care system needs. In April 1993, a majority (55%) said the system needed to be completely rebuilt, 26% said it needed fundamental changes, while 15% said it needed only minor changes. Today, fewer than half (41%) say the system needs to be completely rebuilt, while 30% say it requires fundamental change and 24% say the system works pretty well and needs only minor changes.


ObamaCare Sticker Shock

A $1.6 trillion deficit boost, and the uninsured will still be with us.

This was supposed to be a red-letter week for national health care, as Democrats started the process of hustling a quarter-baked bill through Congress to reorganize one-sixth of the economy on a partisan vote. Instead it was a fiasco.

Most of the devastation was wreaked by the Congressional Budget Office, which on Tuesday reported that draft legislation from the Senate Finance Committee would increase the federal deficit by more than $1.6 trillion over the next decade while only partly denting the population of the uninsured. The details haven't been made public, but the short version seems to be that President Obama's health boondoggle prescribes vast new spending without a coherent plan to pay for it even while failing to meet its own standards for social equity.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus postponed the health timeline, probably until after Congress's July 4 vacation. His team will try to scale down the middle-class insurance subsidies and make other cuts to hold the sticker shock under $1 trillion. (Oh, is that all?) Mr. Baucus also claims he's committed to a bipartisan consensus, yet most Republicans have been closed out of the negotiations, and industry lobbyists have been pre-emptively warned that even meeting with the GOP will invite retribution.

Useful to emphasize amid the mayhem is that CBO's number-crunching is almost always off -- predicting too much spending for market-based policies and far too little for new public programs, especially on health care. The CBO score for a new entitlement is only the teaser rate, given that the costs will inevitably balloon as the years pass and more people mob "free" or subsidized insurance.

Mitt Romney pitched his 2006 health reform -- which Democrats view as a model for universal coverage -- as modest and affordable, yet already its public option is annihilating the Massachusetts fisc. The original cost estimate for last year was $472 million; final spending came in at $628 million. Spending this year is at least $75 million over initial budget, while projections for next year range as high as $880 million -- and even those are probably too low.

Capitol Hill's entitlement Democrats are determined too press ahead, despite this cost detour. Still, this week's lesson is that ObamaCare might not be inevitable once Americans figure out the astonishing price tag.


Australia: That great government healthcare again. Broken neck? Take a Panadol

A MAN who broke his neck in a freak accident was sent home and told to take Panadol after hospital staff failed to diagnose his life-threatening injury. Paul Curtis, 31, endured two days of increasing pain and fear after a doctor in the emergency department at Sydney's Ryde Hospital sent him away without ordering an X-ray. He went back to the hospital where another doctor ordered tests. He said Mr Curtis was lucky to be alive or not in a wheelchair.

The Carlingford man went to Ryde Hospital late on Friday May 29 after he and a friend cracked their heads during a church youth group activity. "I drove home but I didn't feel right and my housemate, a nurse, thought I wasn't looking very good," he said. "I told the hospital staff I had had a serious head collision and the nurse noticed a mark on the back of my neck.

"After 2 hours I saw the doctor and told him my neck was sore. He told me I couldn't have an X-ray because the X-ray unit was shut and told me I would be fine. "He told me to go home and take some Panadol."

By Monday his condition had worsened and he returned to the hospital where another doctor ordered an X-ray and a CT scan. With the break detected, he was put in a brace and sent by ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he later had surgery and a plate inserted in his spine. "I was crapping myself when they told me my neck was broken - I had been walking around like that for two days," Mr Curtis said. "There was a chip out of my spine and the doctor said it was lucky it hadn't severed my spinal cord."

A Ryde Hospital spokeswoman said Mr Curtis had not complained of a loss of consciousness and told emergency staff he had taken Panadol for the pain. She said hospital records from the Friday night did not show any discussion about an X-ray but said radiologists could be called back to the hospital after 11pm if required. Hospital records showed he returned to Ryde at 9.08am on the Monday, and was in an ambulance en route to Royal North Shore at 9.21am.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said: "It was nothing more than luck that saved this man from sustaining further damage as a result of not being treated properly - quite frankly the fact he was sent home with the injuries he had is enough to send shivers down the spine. "The Rees Labor Government has failed to provide Ryde Hospital with the resources it needs to deal with cases like this. "Ryde Hospital clearly doesn't have enough funding or staff skill mix to deal with cases like this, and that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Health Minister John Della Bosca and his incompetent area health services."

Ryde MP Victor Dominello, a Liberal, defended hospital staff, saying it was not their fault they did not have sufficient resources to treat patients properly.


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