Thursday, July 30, 2009

Britain's Left-run NHS deliberately kills off older people

Do you really think Obamacare will be different?

Older women with breast cancer are less likely to receive “standard” treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery than younger women, a report says today. Only 16 per cent of patients over 65 received chemotherapy compared with 77 per cent of patients under 50, according to an audit of British health services by the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer. A total of 48 per cent of women aged 80 and over did not receive any type of surgery, compared with 3.5 per cent of women aged under 50. Only 42 per cent of women aged 65 and over received breast-conserving surgery, compared with 51 per cent of women under 65. Meanwhile, only 31 per cent of breast cancer patients over 80 received radiotherapy, compared with 78 per cent of patients under 50.

The audit, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, analysed 48,983 cancer patients from 11 regional cancer networks. Breakthrough Breast Cancer said that although some of the findings could be accounted for by some women not wanting some of the treatments or surgery, the figures were too high to be explained through patient choice alone.

Maggie Alexander, the charity’s director of policy and campaigns, said: “Breakthrough is concerned that there appear to be significant differences in treatment given to patients depending on their age. “All women should be offered appropriate treatment options no matter what their age, and that’s why we are now investigating this issue to find out what lies behind these differences.”

Gill Lawrence, the director of the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit, who led the project, added: “We encourage breast units to review their services and to identify ways in which they can be improved. “Although the data in this report are for breast cancers diagnosed in 2004, we are confident that the data highlight issues that still exist today.”


Is There a ‘Right’ to Health Care?

In Britain, its recognition has led to substandard care


If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing. Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it? If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?” When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.

Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.

The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world. Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.

The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.

Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)

In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.

There is no right to health care—any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.


10 Questions for Supporters of 'ObamaCare'

1. President Barack Obama repeatedly tells us that one reason national health care is needed is that we can no longer afford to pay for Medicare and Medicaid. But if Medicare and Medicaid are fiscally insolvent and gradually bankrupting our society, why is a government takeover of medical care for the rest of society a good idea? What large-scale government program has not eventually spiraled out of control, let alone stayed within its projected budget? Why should anyone believe that nationalizing health care would create the first major government program to "pay for itself," let alone get smaller rather than larger over time? Why not simply see how the Democrats can reform Medicare and Medicaid before nationalizing much of the rest of health care?

2. President Obama reiterated this past week that "no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition." This is an oft-repeated goal of the president's and the Democrats' health care plan. But if any individual can buy health insurance at any time, why would anyone buy health insurance while healthy? Why would I not simply wait until I got sick or injured to buy the insurance? If auto insurance were purchasable once one got into an accident, why would anyone purchase auto insurance before an accident? Will the Democrats next demand that life insurance companies sell life insurance to the terminally ill? The whole point of insurance is that the healthy buy it and thereby provide the funds to pay for the sick. Demanding that insurance companies provide insurance to everyone at any time spells the end of the concept of insurance. And if the answer is that the government will now make it illegal not to buy insurance, how will that be enforced? How will the government check on 300 million people?

3. Why do supporters of nationalized medicine so often substitute the word "care" for the word "insurance?" it is patently untrue that millions of Americans do not receive health care. Millions of Americans do not have health insurance but virtually every American (and non-American on American soil) receives health care.

4. No one denies that in order to come close to staying within its budget health care will be rationed. But what is the moral justification of having the state decide what medical care to ration?

5. According to Dr. David Gratzer, health care specialist at the Manhattan Institute, "While 20 years ago pharmaceuticals were largely developed in Europe, European price controls made drug development an American enterprise. Fifteen of the 20 top-selling drugs worldwide this year were birthed in the United States." Given how many lives -- in America and throughout the world – American pharmaceutical companies save, and given how expensive it is to develop any new drug, will the price controls on drugs envisaged in the Democrats' bill improve or impair Americans' health?

6. Do you really believe that private insurance could survive a "public option"? Or is this really a cover for the ideal of single-payer medical care? How could a private insurance company survive a "public option" given that private companies have to show a profit and government agencies do not have to – and given that a private enterprise must raise its own money to be solvent and a government option has access to others' money -- i.e., taxes?

7. Why will hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies do nearly as superb a job as they now do if their reimbursement from the government will be severely cut? Haven't the laws of human behavior and common sense been repealed here in arguing that while doctors, hospitals and drug companies will make significantly less money they will continue to provide the same level of uniquely excellent care?

8. Given how many needless procedures are ordered to avoid medical lawsuits and how much money doctors spend on medical malpractice insurance, shouldn't any meaningful "reform" of health care provide some remedy for frivolous malpractice lawsuits?

9. Given how weak the U.S. economy is, given how weak the U.S. dollar is, and given how much in debt the U.S. is in, why would anyone seek to have the U.S. spend another trillion dollars? Even if all the other questions here had legitimate answers, wouldn't the state of the U.S. economy alone argue against national health care at this time?

10. Contrary to the assertion of President Obama -- "we spend much more on health care than any other nation but aren't any healthier for it" -- we are healthier. We wait far less time for procedures and surgeries. Our life expectancy with virtually any major disease is longer. And if you do not count deaths from violent crime and automobile accidents, we also have the longest life expectancy. Do you think a government takeover of American medicine will enable this medical excellence to continue?


The Perils of Socialized Medicine

by John Campbell

Regular readers know that I am a numbers, financial, and economic guy, as betrayed by my CPA certification. As important as these issues are, we are now presented with an issue even more vital. The socialized healthcare bill being considered by the House will likely result in tens of millions of Americans dying sooner than they otherwise would have to.

When the free-market, doctors, and patients are taken out of health care decisions, and the care is paid for by somebody else, the establishment of an organization to ration care is inevitable. In fact, the legislation creates the National Institute of Comparative Effectiveness. As benign as it may sound, this is the bureaucracy that will be used to ration care. A similar institution exists in Britain, and has the rather ominous acronym of NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Experience). Rulings on whether people live or die are made frequently in Britain and Canada, and if you have a pre-existing condition, are elderly, or for some reason deemed ‘unfit’ for a life saving procedure, then your chances of being granted that life saving procedure become even murkier. Your life will hang in the balance, subject to the whims of government and its bureaucrats. This is why the survival rates from cancer, heart disease, and many other life-threatening diseases are 30-50% lower in countries with socialized medicine than they are in countries with private medicine.

And why are we doing this? It is generally accepted that about 85% of Americans have some form of health insurance. But, 15% do not. Of the 15% that do not, about one third have plenty of income and wealth, but choose not to buy insurance because they think they are healthy and want to save the money, and if they have a problem they will just go to the emergency room. Another third are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare or other subsidized care, but have not signed up. Only that last third, or 5% of the population, are truly uninsured, want insurance, and have no realistic option to get it.

Without question, there is a problem with which we must deal. But we should not sacrifice the quality of care and the life expectancy of 95% of the population for 5% as the Obama/Pelosi plan does. Furthermore, their plan fails to cover that 5%.

The Democrats in the House are practically at war amongst themselves over this because their more moderate members see the folly in socialized medicine. As I left the Capitol earlier today, the final committee with jurisdiction on this bill, Energy and Commerce, still had not met to vote on the bill. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) suggested that maybe his committee should just be bypassed if the votes to pass the bill weren’t there. That, is truly desperation.

They know how powerful a message it is. Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi are so nervous that the public might find out what is really in this health care proposal that they have taken the unprecedented step of trying to use the rules of the House to censor the minority, and restrict what we are allowed to say or send out to you. In other words, they want to limit the only real power the loyal minority has, which is the power to communicate criticisms of the majority's proposals and present alternatives. Among the items to which they have objected to is the chart shown below. They have not been able to say that this chart, which reflects the organization of the Obama/Pelosi Health Care bill, is inaccurate. They say that some of the descriptions of the agencies are "misleading." Right. If you want to see misleading, read my blog on the 10 "inaccuracies" in President Obama’s news conference last week.

The Greeneyeshade Blog - Obama Misleads us on Healthcare

Your government run health care system will look like this if this bill passes. The Speaker and her minions just don't want you to know it.

John Locke must be rolling in his grave. This socialized medicine package is a leap in a direction to which the government will now view its citizens as liabilities. This is in a republic that was founded on the premise that the government derives its power from the ‘consent of the governed.’ If this bill passes, perhaps we should change that to ‘consent of the governed, unless they represent too high of a liability.’

I admit, I am little worked up about this. But darn it, it's really important.

SOURCE (See the original for a larger chart)

The uninsured now secondary

That sudden jolt just felt by the 40 million uninsured Americans and their supporters was the presidential carpet being yanked out from under their feet, as President Barack Obama unexpectedly abandoned so-called “universal coverage” as the chief reason a health care overhaul bill was so urgent. He’s decided instead to focus on the cost of health care for all, insured or not.

Unfortunately, the plans he and the congressional Democrats are offering would be as ineffective at that as at covering the uninsured.

The president’s abrupt abandonment of the uninsured came after a series of polls showed his proposal has lost support now that the public has discovered how expensive and intrusive it would be.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released July 13 showed more Americans (49 percent) oppose Obama’s health care proposal than favor it (46 percent). Five days later, another Rasmussen poll showed 61 percent believe high costs are the biggest problem the nation’s health care system currently faces, with only 21 percent saying so-called “universal coverage” was their chief concern.

The loss of his initial casus belli didn’t lessen Obama’s eagerness for a government takeover. As concern about universal coverage dwindled, he simply abandoned the uninsured and changed his tune to a concern for cutting costs. In a speech on Monday (July 20) Obama placed the emphasis squarely on the latter. “I’ve said this before,” he said. “Let me repeat: The bill I sign must reflect my commitment and the commitment of Congress to slow the growth of health care costs over the long run.”

Unfortunately for the 62 percent of Americans who see high costs as the biggest problem, the bills proposed by the congressional Democrats and supported by Obama would increase taxes while doing nothing to lower costs. You don’t have to take my word for it. In his July 16 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, Doug Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reported the proposed health care bills would add significantly to the federal budget deficit while doing nothing to “reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

The bills before Congress are designed to push millions of Americans into a government insurance plan—in evaluating it, just consider what a great deal you’re getting from Social Security—and somehow cut costs by taking advantage of government’s universally acknowledged brilliance at running lean and mean. What that all really means is forcing consumers into a government program that rations your care, as other countries’ nationalized systems do. Get ready for long waits for treatment, if you can get treatment at all.

The sensible alternative is to deal directly with the cost problem by enabling consumers to cut costs by giving them more choice, not less. The government could do that very easily by stripping out unnecessary mandates and regulations and standardizing the tax treatment of health insurance. The increased competition would reduce insurance premiums, thus allowing the uninsured to find affordable policies if they want them.

Unfortunately, Obama and Congress aren’t considering such liberating notions, preferring instead to increase government power and decrease consumer choice.

As for the uninsured, the CBO said the proposed overhauls would enable only about a third (16 million) of them to gain coverage. That probably made it even easier for Obama to drop them from his list of concerns. But instead of throwing the uninsured overboard, he and his fellow Democrats in Congress should consider liberalizing measures that would benefit everybody.


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