Sunday, September 13, 2009

Doctors Against Obamacare – Rally in D.C.

Below is a report of an event that you won't have read about in your newspaper. It would have got blanket coverage if it had been pro-Obama. Excepts only below. Lots of pictures at the source

On September 10, 2009, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals came to Washington, D.C. from across the country to show their opposition to Obamacare. This rally exploded the government-created myth that there is unanimity amongst health care professionals for Democrat plans to take over health care. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons came to D.C. to present a petition from doctors to lawmakers. The AAPS has been a voice for private physicians since 1943. Their motto is omnia pro aegroto, “all for the patient”. The doctors met with the representatives from their respective states and argued for a platform that avoids unnecessary bureaucratic intervention in health care.

Dr. Shannon Norris, a radiologist from Atlanta, holds a People’s Cube poster describing Obamacare as offering “the efficiency of the Postal Service, the sustainability of Social Security and all the compassion of the IRS”.

Dr. Steven Ellison, a cardiologist from Georgia, displays graphically how doctors feel about being targeted by a party and president that slander and demonize them. On the podium, speaker after speaker talked about the slurs President Obama has made about doctors performing unnecessary amputations and tonsillectomies out of greed. Not only is it untrue that doctors profit from these procedures, but the premise that they would do such harm to their patients is an insult to doctors.

Hal Scherz, a pediatric urologist from Atlanta, founded Docs for Patient Care to voice doctors’ opposition to the “big rush” for a big government solution to health care reform. The organization of doctors suggests practical proposals such as tort reform, insurance reform, and opening up insurance pools between states.

Their petition to Congress can be found at

Physicians can no longer allow medical care in this country to be controlled by government and insurance companies. Current reform options purport be “cure-alls” for every American. But we know that every patient is different, and just like patients, there is no single big-government solution to change health care in this country. Instead, we need more diversity in solutions. Therefore, I support changes that address the following issues:

Petition point: 1. INDEPENDENCE: Doctors are professionals. They answer to their patients, not the government or an insurance company or any other third party. Treatments should be decided by doctor and patient exclusively. “We are not the enemy,” said Dr. Joyce Lovitt, a pediatrician from Georgia.

Petition point: 2. VALUE OUR SERVICES: Physicians have a right to be paid a market-based fee for their services, and to be paid at the time of service or within a reasonable period. Dr. Lovitt: “Patients, we will cover your backs if you do not tie our hands behind our backs.”

Petition point 3. DOCTORS ARE NOT INSURANCE BILLING CLERKS: Physicians should not be forced to act as billing or collection agents for third-parties, whether private insurance or the government.

Petition point 4. REGULATIONS GET BETWEEN PHYSICIANS & PATIENTS: Excessive regulatory burden on physicians is interfering with patient care. We must decrease regulations, not pass more.

Petition point 5. LIABILITY COSTS MUST BE REDUCED: Costly defensive treatment and tests, and predatory litigation result in excessive liability costs for physicians and patients alike.

Petition point 6. AUTONOMY: Neither physicians nor patients should be forced to participate in government nor private health care plans or programs.

Petition point 7. RIGHT TO CONTRACT: Neither physicians nor patients should be prohibited from entering into mutually agreeable private contracts for services and payments.

Petition point 8. PRIVACY: Physicians must not be forced to disclose patient records without the express consent of patients.

Dr. Michael Schlitt, a neurosurgeon from Seattle. He spoke about a woman in England who had an aneurism and was told by the National Health Service that there was nothing they could do for her. They told her to enjoy her last few days. She came to the U.S. and was treated by Dr. Schlitt and is fine today. “Show me a place where patients can get MRI’s the same day.” and the crowd responded with a rousing “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” ”Who’s got the best medical care in the world?” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

More here

Senate's 'Gang of Six' near closure on health bill

Malpractice, illegals in focus

The Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" is working to strengthen the citizenship requirements for obtaining health care coverage - a hot topic highlighted by Rep. Joe Wilsons "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's congressional address. The group also is looking at a new medical-malpractice provision, pursuing Mr. Obamas call for such a money-saving measure that is coveted by Republican lawmakers.

Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, also said Friday that members of the bipartisan negotiating team could have a response to Mr. Obama's proposal on Monday. Mr. Baucus plans to release a formal health care overhaul proposal early next week, with or without Republican support. "We are starting to reach closure," he said, adding that Monday could be the Gang of Six's last meeting.

The group of three Republicans and three Democrats has been trying to find a bipartisan compromise for weeks, but hope that all six will sign on is dimming. Mr. Baucus said he planned to work through the weekend to settle the final points of contention, which include how to expand Medicaid and to what extent. To that end, the group will speak Monday with state governors, who would face the bills from new enrollees.

The medical malpractice provision likely will help encourage Republican support. The group is working on a variation of legislation introduced in 2007 by Mr. Baucus and Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, one of the Republicans in the room. That bill would have issued grants to states to set up alternatives to the current tort litigation system, with the goal of bringing down costs by communicating errors early and setting "reasonable" limits to compensation.

The group also is reviewing provisions that would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining government health care subsidies or from getting on a government plan, said Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat and member of the Gang of Six. The group's plan would require individuals to use their Social Security numbers to obtain a low- or middle-income tax subsidy or to sign on to a cooperative insurance plan, but it's working on how to extend coverage to legal residents without a Social Security number.

Mr. Conrad said illegal immigrants would be able to purchase private insurance, as they are now, but would not be able to get government assistance to help pay for it. "There's a high degree of confidence that we have an outline to prevent anybody here illegally from benefiting from these initiatives," Mr. Conrad said.

The chairman's framework, distributed last week, said people in the country illegally wouldn't get assistance, but the issue got new attention Wednesday when Mr. Wilson, South Carolina Republican, shouted "You lie!" when Mr. Obama said illegal immigrants wouldn't get aid. Critics say there will be no way to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing the government insurance programs, whether it's a public insurance plan or a cooperative insurance program.

The nonpartisan said it is possible that 5.6 million of the estimated 9.7 million uninsured immigrants are in the country illegally, though they said there is no "hard data" to verify it.

The other members of the group include Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Republicans Sens. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.


The Biggest Liar of All

Barack Obama is lying. And there is no need to apologize for telling it like it is, as Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) did after he shouted “You lie!” as Obama spoke to the joint session of Congress on Wednesday. He’s a liar.

As you know, in the speech to Congress, Obama took one last bite at the apple to try and sell his government takeover of the health care sector. Therein, he attempted to dispel what he termed to be “bogus claims.” Let us review a few of his “clarifications.”

On Wednesday, Obama claimed illegal aliens would not be eligible for the government-run plan. But they are: the only eligibility requirement is income. As ALG News recently reported in “The Hidden Cost of ObamaCare,” under the House version of the so-called public “option,” individuals up to 400 percent of the poverty level, or making approximately $43,320 or less annually, will be eligible for some level of health coverage under the plan whether through the public “option,” Medicaid, or otherwise.

Or, 91.5 million people as of 2006 aged 25-65 who fell into that income bracket, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Throw in the 35 million who were 65 and older at that time, and the total figure comes to over 125.8 million eligible for ObamaCare, compared with 80.5 million who now receive their health care from the government.

As a result, approximately 45 million more people—the exact figure the Census Bureau reports as being uninsured—will be receiving their health care from Uncle Sam. And it includes illegal immigrants! Why?

As House Republican Leader John Boehner has pointed out, there is no prohibition enforcement in the bill against non-citizens receiving coverage under the so-called public “option.” Wrote Boehner on his website, “Republicans offered two amendments in the Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce Committees that were rejected by Democrats. The first would have prevented illegal immigrants from being automatically enrolled into Medicaid and the second would have required better screening for applicants for federally-subsidized health care to ensure they are actually citizens or legal immigrants.”

Without a citizenship verification requirement, a person would only need to prove they make less than $43,320, and they’re in. Those are the facts.

The lies do not stop there. Obama challenged opponents who believe government-run care would result in rationing. He said, “The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.”

To be fair, this is more than a slight misrepresentation on Obama’s part, but it is true that under the plan, there will be bureaucrats rationing treatment—and that in essence will result in seniors being denied care. And, yes, that very likely means they would die sooner than if they had received the life-saving treatment, surgery, or drugs now covered under Medicare. How do we know that?

A means of cutting “costs” that has been repeatedly touted by the Obama Administration, as reported by Politico, is “a White House proposal to empower an outside body, like the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, to make binding recommendations for cost cuts in government-run health care programs.” That includes Medicare, which House Democrats have already said they plan on cutting by $500 billion over ten years.

On July 22nd, Obama elaborated on his plans to cut Medicare to pay for his overall plan by allowing an “independent group of doctors and medical experts” to determine how to cut the program tens of millions of seniors now depend on for medical care.

And he said it again in his speech, “[W]e will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.” That’s it. That’s the rationing board—and Obama specifically defined what their role would be, when he defined what he viewed as “waste” in the system.

Obama was answering the question of a woman whose mother had a pacemaker installed at the age of 100 after being told she was too old. She’s now 105.

Here’s what Obama said in full response, “We’re not going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end-of-life care, a lot of that is going to have to be we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves. But, what we can do is make sure that some of the waste that exists in the system that is not making anybody’s mom better, that is loading upon additional tests or additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know, and your mom know, that, you know what, this isn’t going to help, maybe you’re better off not having the surgery but taking the pain killer.”

So, the rationing board will let doctors and individuals know what is and is not covered.

Just how would they let the doctors know? By not paying for those “unnecessary” tests and drugs. And how would those aging mothers find out? When those life-extending treatments are denied. The message, in short, will be: take two aspirins and call the undertaker.

And Barack Obama knows it. Most importantly, seniors know it.

More here

Utopia: The Land of Ideal Health Care

Now boys and girls, I want to tell you a wonderful fairy tale about a talismanic land where only happy endings are allowed. And all you have to do is surrender your “liberty and freedom for all.” You all know that Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel was aboard the Clinton Express when it tried to take us to the magical world of universal health care in the early 90s. Sadly, that train broke down on the way and never arrived at Utopia. But, not to worry, because now Zeke has boarded another train, the ObamaCare Special. And, it is leaving the station for the same destination.

Now, you’re probably wondering what you will find in Zeke’s Utopia. How will your needs be met? And what will this live-long life of lollipop and roses cost? Well, again, not to worry. You seek Zeke has already written a wonderful travel guide about his magical land of health care reform. Its title is “A Comprehensive Cure: Universal Health Care Vouchers.” And it reads a lot like “Alice in Wonderland.”

Zeke’s Utopia is an enchanted place where everyone receives a standard package of wonderful health care services, “regardless of age, income, employment, health, or marital status.” And all you need to pay for any of this is your complimentary “Health Care Voucher.” Once in Utopia, you can take your ticket to any private health plan provider or insurer, and you are guaranteed a basic benefit package. How’s that for happily ever aftering?

Now, I know you’ve heard lots of scary stories about those nasty private health insurance companies turning folks away for preexisting conditions or other enrollment requirements. But Zeke would fix it so that in Utopia, they wouldn’t be able to do this anymore. In fact he would severely restrict and control which companies can accept his special vouchers so that only one in ten would be left when he is finished. And those will either do as there told, or – zip! – it’s down the rabbit hole for them.

You may be wondering, how can Zeke afford to buy everyone a “free” ticket? Where will he get the money? Well, in Utopia, everyone will help him get the money – including you – by paying a national sales tax [called a VAT] of ten to twelve cents on the dollar for everything they buy. So, the money you save on “free” health care, you’ll be able to turn over to Big Government.

And that money will also enable Zeke to set up a National Health Board and regional health boards to “define and regularly adjust the standard health benefits to reflect…fiscal realities.” If less comes in from the VAT, fewer health benefits will be guaranteed in Utopia. And Big Government will make the “tough administrative choices to be made.” This is what’s known in Utopia as “rationing.” And it could cost you your life. But, that’s a small matter.

Here is the best part about Zeke’s plans for your life in Utopia. The 10 to 12 cents Zeke and his pals take out of every dollar you have (after Big Government has already taken the 50 cents it currently takes) will also enable Zeke and his pals to set up an “Institute for Technology Outcomes Assessment.”

You see, Zeke has figured out that the problem with medical care today is that there is just too much spending that does not produce enough good results. So, in Utopia, Zeke’s new government Institute would compare the “costs of drugs, devices, diagnostic tests, and other interventions” with their relative effectiveness in saving the lives of “participating citizens” to see which benefits will be provided to whom.

Only those “drugs, devices, diagnostic tests,” and such, that produce enough good results -- that is, save the lives Zeke and his pals decide are worth saving: the young and productive, in their eyes – will considered effective and receive Utopia’s Big Government funding.

For example, let’s think about grandma for a second. And let’s say she was lying in the hospital unconscious on a respirator to help her breath. Now some selfish people (the kind Zeke definitely does not want in Utopia) would let her stay there for months at great expense to Big Government, hoping (and maybe even praying) for a miracle or an advance in medical technology that would bring her back to health.

But, not Zeke. Being of superior intellect and knowing how to properly evaluate who should live and who should die, Zeke and his Big Government pals would pull that plug so fast granny would have a tag on her toe before you could say “Sanctity of life.” And in Zeke’s Utopia, the word of the government is the unquestioned law of the land. So, there could be no legal challenge to the Institute’s decisions.

So, there you have it: a Utopian world where everyone is healthy, happy, and in the prime of life. Because, in Utopia, you see, Zeke and his pals will kill off everyone else.


ObamaCare: Status Quo on Steroids

Healthcare reform that isn't

Let’s begin by noting that the so-called health-insurance companies deserve little sympathy. As they exist today, they are very much creatures of the State. In fact, there’s a sense in which it can be said that if we didn’t have health-insurance companies, we wouldn’t need them.

Economist William Niskanen writes, “We did not have a health care crisis in 1940 when few people had health insurance.” In fact, that year only 10 percent of Americans had such insurance (henceforth imagine ironic quotation marks). But World War II was a bonanza for the industry, especially Blue Cross Blue Shield. Government economic controls prohibited firms from attracting or keeping workers with higher wages. So someone hit on the idea of supplementing wages with noncash compensation, specifically, health insurance. The government said okay and the rest is history. Employee insurance was untaxed, creating a bias toward employer-provided health plans. If an employer bought a $5,000 plan for a worker, that worker got the full $5,000 benefit. But if the employer paid the worker $5,000 in cash, the worker would pocket $5,000 minus federal and state taxes. He’d need more than $5,000 to buy a $5,000 policy.

The government intervened in another way. According to Niskanen, “[T]ax and regulatory preferences for the Blues displaced the older form of commercial indemnity policies with policies providing cost-based reimbursement.” This act of social engineering — arrogant politicians and bureaucrats always think they know better than the collective wisdom stimulated by the free market — had huge (and presumably) unintended consequences that account for many of our current problems. Under the old-style indemnity plans (which individuals shopped and bought for themselves), contracting a catastrophic disease triggered a fixed insurance payment — to the policyholder – according to an agreed-on predetermined schedule. The money was hers. If she could find services that cost less than the insurance payment, she pocketed the difference. Of course, this provided an incentive to be cost-conscious in buying medical care. Homeowners’ and other types of insurance still works like this.

In contrast, under the Blue Cross Blue Shield model pushed by government — which began not as insurance but as a prepayment plan for doctors and hospitals — the policyholder never sees a dime. Treatment simply sets in motion a process in which the insurance company sends a check to a hospital, lab, or doctor. No treatment, no payment. The individual has no reason to shop around (there can be great variation in prices), or to question whether a test or procedure is necessary, or to even ask what anything costs. What’s the point? It would seem only to save the insurance company money.

The insurance companies take this into account when negotiating with providers and employers who buy coverage on behalf of their workers. A key problem here is the disconnect between cost and benefit (which would be aggravated by the Obama plan). In most cases employers pay for their workers’ coverage with money that otherwise would have largely gone into cash wages. To the workers, it looks like free (or pretty cheap) coverage. Because of competition among employers and the rigged tax laws, coverage has become more luxurious, including services for situations that are not even insurable. A good example is maternity benefits. Pregnancy is not a disease, is largely preventable, and usually results from a volitional act. From a true insurance perspective, it’s ridiculous to expect coverage. (It would be like insurance against gaining weight.) The same could be said for many other “conditions” that are covered today. Well-baby care? Is that insurance against a baby’s being well? (Orwell was right: corrupt the language and one can get away with anything.)

More here

Australia: The brainless Qld. Ambulance bureaucracy does it again

Paramedics get TVs, not life-saving equipment. The entire management should be fired

QUEENSLAND Ambulance Service has splashed out on big-screen TVs, sound systems and expensive lounges while paramedics go without critical equipment. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the entertainment systems for ambulance stations at the end of last financial year despite a desperate need for GPS devices, training defibrillators and replacement uniforms. The splurge has infuriated paramedics forced to cope with broken or dodgy equipment.

In at least three cases exposed by The Courier-Mail, people have died after paramedics lost their way in ambulances lacking GPS or missing a defibrillator which had been removed for training.

The QAS has refused to reveal how much it has spent on TVs, Blu-ray disc players and sound systems over the past two years, but staff estimate it could top $1 million. The QAS strongly defended its spending, claiming the items were for "training". "Education and training is essential to the development of paramedics and QAS employees and the purchase of equipment for training and development such as televisions, DVDs, and lounges in rest areas does not impact on the provision of other essential equipment," it said in a statement. {Really??}

But Brisbane student paramedic Zac Damelian, who had to buy his own GPS for work, said the $12,000 he estimated was spent on his station was over the top. "It's just ridiculous what they spend money on," Mr Damelian said. "Televisions aren't going to bring back the poor old lady (cardiac) arresting down the road." He said the entertainment systems at his station were "hardly ever used for training". "It is for recreation between jobs," he said.

Mr Damelian wasn't against paramedics having comforts, but not at the expense of essential equipment. Lifepak 12 defibrillators are "constantly in and out of service", blood glucose readers, batteries and stretchers needed replacement, and paramedics struggled to get replacement uniforms, he said. Paramedics who want to train on Lifepak 12 defibrillators at their stations must remove units from ambulances, a risky decision.

Some stations now have up to three LCD televisions and two DVD players. The Emergency Medical Service Protection Association, which represents hundreds of paramedics and ambulance staff, said it disagreed with the wasting of public money. "In times of financial crisis . . . there are more pressing priorities," vice-president Jock Ruthven said.

QAS documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under Right to Information showed a Gold Coast child who died after having a seizure was attended to by paramedics who did not have a defibrillator because it had been removed for training. Two Mackay men died of cardiac arrest after waiting more than 40 minutes for lost ambulances which didn't have GPS.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Ted Malone said money should first be spent making sure there was enough staff and essential equipment, including back-up gear, and uniforms.


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