Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The "cold heart" of rationed health care and what we can expect from Obamacare.

Here's a description of what the health care bill in Congress would do to real life health care decisions, resulting in bureaucrats coming between doctors and their patients and resulting in the "premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly."

Nat Hentoff of the Cato Institute points out that:

Much of the press coverage of the Democrats' health-care legislation, now fiercely embattled in Congress, focuses on the public option, the actual long-term costs and tax increases, and the amendment barring funding for abortions, but the cold heart of Obamacare is its overpowering of the doctor-patient relationship — eventually resulting in the premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly.

To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health-care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure each year, will be punished by losing part of their own incomes.

Not only Medicare doctors will be monitored for their cost effectiveness. In the House bill, as Cato Institute's health-care specialist Michael Tanner explains (New York Post, Nov. 8), "111 government agencies, boards, commissions and other bureaucracies — all overseen by a new health-care czar," the commissioner of Health Care Choices, will keep watch on what the president has called excessive, wasteful health-care expenditures.

Moreover, President Obama has made clear that eventually he desires a U.S. equivalent of the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a commission that decides which drugs and procedures for patients are within the national budget for health care. The current baseline expenditure for each Briton, according to Michael Tanner, is $44,305 per year.

In this country, bureaucrats keeping tabs on patients — without actually seeing them and their condition — will mean, as Tanner notes, that "every time a doctor decides on a treatment, he or she would have to ask: 'Does the government think I'm doing this too much? Will I be penalized if I order this test?'"....

Hentoff points to Harvard Medical School faculty who likewise believe that government control of treatment means bureaucrats will be directing health care decisions for all of us.

Harvard Medical School faculty members Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband bring the individual back into this crucial debate in "Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care" (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 31):...."If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government-mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions."

Also remember that these functionaries making decisions about your treatment and, in some cases, about the extent of your life span, have never met you. They do not know your name, have not spoken directly to your doctor and, of course, haven't the slightest idea of what your wishes are. Is this America?

And then another medical voice from NYU Medical Center:

Another doctor whose byline in the New York Post I try never to miss is Mark K. Siegel, a practicing internist and an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. In "Destroying the Doctor-Patient Bond" (New York Post, Aug. 3), he points to Section 123 of the House bill that "establishes a Health Benefits dvisory Committee, chaired by the surgeon general, which makes recommendations to the HHS secretary on what should be covered and what shouldn't.

"These rulings from on high," Dr. Siegel warns, "are problematic, since useful treatments or tests for one patient are not appropriate for another. Appeals are bound to be time consuming and largely ineffective. This is the government interfering directly with the practice of medicine."

While advocates of the health care legislation say they just want to give more people health care insurance, certainly a compassionate motivation, the way they do it will mean less care for those who really need it and ever rising health care costs for all of us. Of course, that's the necessary outcome of the socialist impulse. "We through the government can create a better world. Just trust us." The reality is something much different.

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