Monday, November 16, 2009

They're Baaaack!

Via Memeorandum:

"They" are death panels and it isn't Sarah Palin bring them up, it is the Wall Street Journal. Granted, they are not called "death panels", but as they say, "the devil is in the the details. From The Rationing Commission:

As usual, the most dangerous parts of ObamaCare aren't receiving the scrutiny they deserve—and one of the least examined is a new commission to tell Congress how to control health spending. Democrats are quietly attempting to impose a "global budget" on Medicare, with radical implications for U.S. medicine.

Like most of Europe, the various health bills stipulate that Congress will arbitrarily decide how much to spend on health care for seniors every year—and then invest an unelected board with extraordinary powers to dictate what is covered and how it will be paid for. White House budget director Peter Orszag calls this Medicare commission "critical to our fiscal future" and "one of the most potent reforms."

On that last score, he's right. Prominent health economist Alain Enthoven has likened a global budget to "bombing from 35,000 feet, where you don't see the faces of the people you kill."
Nothing personal, Granny.

The Left's line from day one has been that we already have rationing because insurance companies make care decisions every day. That is absolutely true. However, I haven't heard from the Left why it is okay for a government panel to make life and death decisions and wrong for an insurance company to do the same. Perhaps the difference is because the insurance companies represent the free market which is open and rollicking and frankly, undisciplined whereas the government represents the comforting nanny who imposes order and makes the tough choices on behalf of unruly children.

Some may think that they are too young to be affected by the panels. More or less true. Older people will be represent the largest group that will be denied health care. First, the baby boomers are a huge segment of the population and they (we) are aging. Second, they (we) develop more health problems with age. The WSJ uses the example of the state of Washington's medical board to let us know what we have to look forward to:

The Washington commission, called the Health Technology Assessment, is manned by 11 bureaucrats, including a chiropractor and a "naturopath" who focuses on alternative, er, remedies like herbs and massage therapy. They consider the clinical effectiveness but above all the cost of medical procedures and technologies. If they decide something isn't worth the money, then Olympia won't cover it for some 750,000 Medicaid patients, public employees and prisoners.

So far, the commission has banned knee arthroscopy for osteoarthritis, discography for chronic back pain, and implantable infusion pumps for pain not related to cancer. This year, it is targeting such frivolous luxuries as knee replacements, spinal cord stimulation, a specialized autism therapy and MRIs of the abdomen, pelvis or breasts for cancer. It will also rule on routine ultrasounds for pregnancy, which have a "high" efficacy but also a "high" cost.

Currently, the commission is pushing through the most restrictive payment policy in the nation for drug-eluting cardiac stents—simply because bare metal stents are cheaper, even as they result in worse outcomes. If a patient is wheeled into the operating room with chest pains in an emergency, doctors will first have to determine if he's covered by a state plan, then the diameter of his blood vessels and his diabetic condition to decide on the appropriate stent. If they don't, Washington will not reimburse them for "inappropriate care."
In the Washington state model it isn't just Granny who is in deep doo.

Let's be honest about what health care reform entails. More importantly, our politicians need to be honest with us about the true effects of health care reform. But, they won't be unless we insist on honesty and accountability from them.

On a personal note, my eighty-one year old, severely disabled father underwent surgery this afternoon. He's doing well. Under ObamaCare, he'd be dead.

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