Saturday, December 26, 2009

British parliamentarian Warns America of Government Healthcare Horrors

Member of European Parliament Daniel Hannan warned Americans of the dangers of government-run healthcare on the Friday edition of the “Glenn Beck Program." Hannan, a Conservative who represents Southeast England in the European Parliament, said of the British National Health Service (NHS), “The most striking thing about it is that you are very often sent to the back of the queue.”

Beck noted the lengthy waiting times for care under Britain’s socialist National Health Service (NHS). These figures were provided by the BBC on May 27, 2009:

*cataract surgery – 8 months

*hip replacement – 11 months

*knee replacement – 12 months

*slipped disc – 5 months

*hernia repair – 5 months

Although to be fair, Hannan said, the NHS provides “not so bad” care with children but “the worst thing to be is elderly under a system like ours.” Said Hannan:
I could tell you horror stories about elderly people left starving in wards, and the amazing thing is, why do we put up with it? The reason we put up with it for so long is because it has become such a huge system. It’s got such an enormous bureaucracy based around it. We have 1.4 million people employed by the National Health Service.

The NHS is the third largest employer on the planet after the Red Army in Communist China and the Indian national railways. “Most of those 1.4 million people are administrators,” Hannan said.

And the existence of that huge electoral bloc makes it impossible to get rid of the system, Hannan said.

If Americans bring in universal healthcare, they should disabuse themselves of the notion that they can somehow come back and change the system a few years from now, Hannan said.

Facing the camera, Beck said, “America, you cannot let this thing pass. You cannot let any of this structure in…now you understand why this is going to change the face of America and it’ll do it forever.”

Hannan also spoke in Washington, D.C. last week. The title of his speech at the Heritage Foundation was “Putting the Government in Charge: Why America Should Avoid Europe’s Mistakes.”


Health care Bill passes US senate

US President Barack Obama has praised the passage of his signature health care Bill through the Senate as historic and landmark, saying "real, meaningful" reform was incredibly close to becoming a reality.

The Senate voted 60-39 in an early morning session in favor of the controversial legislation, despite continuing opposition from many American voters concerned it will end up costing them more in taxes.

Now that both the House of Representatives and Senate have finished their votes the two chambers must reconcile their starkly different Bills in the New Year before sending the final version for Mr Obama to sign into law.

The President acknowledged the battle was not over: "With passage of reform Bills in both the House and the Senate we are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform," he said. "Our challenge then is to finish the job."

That may not be straightforward. Senator John Barrasso told Fox News the $871bn healthcare overhaul meant it would "ultimately be harder to see a doctor and healthcare costs will go up". He urged voters to lobby their politicians over the holiday season. "The American people do not support this. This is not over," he said.

The $871bn bill will allow 31 million additional Americans to buy health insurance through subsidies and newly-created exchanges for individuals and small businesses. Among other measures, it taxes certain high-value plans, and mandates that most citizens must carry health coverage or pay a penalty.

Importantly it will also prevent insurance companies denying cover to customers with preexisting health conditions.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who shepherded the Bill though the chamber, said after the vote: "This is a victory for the American people. We've affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life is a right not a privilege for a selected few. This vote brings us one step closer to bringing Senator Ted Kennedy's dream to reality."

But the health care overhaul remains unpopular with American voters on both sides of the aisle, according to recent polls. Some Democrat activists say liberal lawmakers conceded too much ground in the struggle for 60 votes, while Republicans almost universally criticise the legislation as a new, unfunded entitlement program.


Republicans vow to stop health reform despite passage through Senate

THE historic Senate passage of a health reform bill has bitterly divided the US political landscape, with Democrats gleeful but defiant Republicans warning the battle is far from over. All 58 Democratic senators and two independents voted in favour after months of tortuous debate to pass the sweeping reforms. But Republicans unanimously rejected the measure, denying the majority any hoped-for claims of bipartisanship. Conservatives had sought to kill the bill or at least delay the battle well into 2010, when mid-term elections will make it more difficult for centrist Democrats to support the overhaul that bears a heavy pricetag of nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.

Republican leaders were quick to seize on the economic hardships of average Americans, saying the United States cannot afford the reforms in the midst of a painful recession tagged with double-digit unemployment. Warning “this fight isn't over,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to work with his colleagues to “stop this bill from becoming law.”

They will have ample opportunity to do so, as senators must now work with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to merge their widely different versions before President Barack Obama can sign his top domestic priority into law.

The mood turned ugly earlier this year when angry audiences shouted down and targeted politicians at townhall meetings across the country. A political firestorm erupted over allegations the plan would frame a bureaucratic “death panel” to make end-of-life choices, while Republicans denounced Democratic horse trading to round up all 60 votes necessary to avoid parliamentary delaying tactics.

With all 435 House seats and at least 36 Senate seats up for grabs in 2010, Republicans are keen to seize on liberal infighting to dictate the terms of the debate and take back power from the Democrats. And many Democrats fear they could be living through a repeat of former president Bill Clinton's unsuccessful healthcare reform drive, which never even came to a vote in Congress and severely wounded his first-term administration. “Every step of this long process has been an enormous undertaking,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

But jubilant Democrats sought to bank on their major achievement in coming closer to extending health coverage to some 31 million of the 36 million Americans who lack insurance after decades of successive failures by seven presidents and multiple congresses. Many invoked Senator Edward Kennedy, the storied liberal “lion of the Senate” who made health reform the cause of his life before he died in August after losing a battle to brain cancer. “With Senator Ted Kennedy's booming voice in our ears - with his passion in our hearts - we say, as he said: The work goes on, the cause endures,” Reid said.

As Democrats scramble to get a final bill to the president's desk early next year, much of the contentious debate centres on providing a government-backed “public option” to compete with private insurers. The measure was stripped from the Senate bill but remains in the House version. Another hot-button item is the House bill's tougher restrictions on federal funds subsidizing abortions: while pro-choice lawmakers denounce the limits, centrist Democrats say they will doom the legislation without them.

House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner blasted the “2733-page government takeover of health care,” calling the process “a disgrace to our country.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was equally unforgiving. “This Christmas, the Democrats and President Obama have given America the one gift that keeps on taking,” he said.

But lawmakers got some comic relief from the ferocious debate during the Christmas Eve vote, when an exhausted Senate Reid initially voted “no” against his own bill in the heat of the moment. As the chamber erupted in laughter, he quickly corrected himself to a “yes” vote, as Senate rules allow.


Christmas Present

Scrooge came early on Christmas Eve this year -- and he looks strangely like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Instead of "bah humbug," he delivered the U.S. Senate's version of "health care reform" -- the most expensive legislation ever passed by the Congress of the United States and the greatest expansion of government power in our nation's history. Now that's some Christmas present -- and a different way of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

If the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate succeed in cobbling together a final bill after the new year begins, every American taxpayer will take a hit in the pocketbook, and every Tiny Tim in the next generation can look forward to government-rationed medical care. According to those who purport to speak for him, President Barack Obama is celebrating this "historic event," and they aren't talking about the Nativity two millenniums ago.

For reasons apparently obscure to Obama and Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, most Americans don't seem to be as pleased at their Christmas gift as those who gave it. Perhaps that's because "We the People" see the Senate's $848 billion stocking stuffer has a price tag that would choke a reindeer.

Actually, that's just the down payment. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the first decade of the Senate's bill would cost $2.5 trillion. Even the Magi couldn't imagine a gift this precious.

Those who voted for "Change!" last year may find that's all they have left in their pockets. Administration actuaries estimate that both the House and Senate bills would accelerate growing costs for medical care. The CBO calculates that annual health care premiums for middle-income Americans would go up by $300 for individuals and more than $2,000 for families. And just in case you didn't notice, not getting health insurance is no longer an option. Higher costs may not have been on your Christmas list, but the O-Team in Washington wants you to have them anyway.

Overwhelmingly, Americans have been telling pollsters for more than a year that what they really wanted this Christmas (and the rest of the year, as well) were "jobs" and "job security." Apparently, the elves at the White House and on Capitol Hill weren't listening. Instead, they want to give us a $400 billion tax increase, new mandates on employers and higher fees for prescription drugs and medical devices. None of this would stimulate private-sector job growth.

But not to worry. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"; there may be new jobs -- at the Office of Personnel Management. In the Senate version of this Christmas Carol, up to 10 million Americans would lose their employer-sponsored health coverage. The individual health insurance plans for millions more would be nonexistent soon. To "ensure these Americans will never be denied coverage," OPM would set up a whole new bureaucracy to administer a government-run "insurance exchange." Though OPM is the federal agency responsible for granting security clearances -- and hopeless backlogs are commonplace -- we should be encouraged that it would do better at "managing" our health insurance. Take an aspirin, and call OPM in the morning.

The O-Team is confident that shortly after we ring in the new year, the House and Senate health care bills will be melded into one giant gift that keeps on giving -- to the federal government. There are some "fine points" to work out, such as how many of our tax dollars can really be spent on abortions and how deep the cuts in Medicare coverage for seniors will be and how much more "the wealthiest Americans" will pay. But those are just "minor details" that we are assured can be "worked out in the spirit of the season." We all should remember that "it's the thought that counts."

According to Reid, the "hard work" is done. The "exhausted" members of Congress are now home on "winter recess." Mr. Obama and his family are on their "Hawaiian holiday." Notably, the word "Christmas" is rarely, if ever, used in our government.

But that proscription isn't as pervasive as some would like. Though the majority of our elected officials call their health care bills a "gift" -- yet dare not speak the word "Christmas" -- there are others who know the true spirit of this holiday. Right now, more than 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines are deployed far from home -- a good number in harm's way. Those who wear our nation's uniform and their loved ones embody what giving, self-sacrifice and Christmas are really all about.


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