Ken's Project Blog

February 14, 2011

Government Health Care

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 9:40 am

Once again (still?) we find ourselves debating and disagreeing about the role our federal government should play in our health care system – our current discussion revolves around the recently implemented Health Care Reform law (AKA “ObamaCare”). The current debate revolves around the idea of an all-our repeal of “ObamaCare,” and while the bill to do that passed the House of Representatives recently, the Senate will not vote on the bill, and the President has promised to veto the repeal bill if it came to his desk…

I recently came across an interesting article on developments in the British health care system that got me thinking – how did their system of healthcare come to be like this? Certainly no one in the U.K. decided they wanted to implement a health care system that views having patients sit in idling ambulances for hours waiting to enter the Emergency Room an improvement over waiting hours in the Emergency Room itself, where patients call the switchboard because they can’t get a nurse to come to their aid, or where patients are put in restraints for pleading for their medication that nurses refuse to administer, yet that is where they are today.

Then I started thinking about our neighbors to the north, and their own challenges with securing an adequate number of doctors for their citizens:

Today, five million Canadians are without a family doctor. A 2005 survey found that just 23 per cent of Canadians were able to see a physician the same day they needed one—placing this country last among the six studied, including the U.S., Britain and Australia. Canada’s doctor-patient ratio is among the worst of any industrialized nation: with just 2.2 physicians per thousand people, it ranks 24th out of 28 OECD countries (well below the average of three). And among the G8 countries, Canada ranks dead last when it comes to physician supply.

Source: Macleans.ca – Adding fuel to the doctor crisis, January, 2008

Surely, neither nation set out to design and implement health care systems with such problems, but issues like these and others give many a justifiable concern about government-controlled health care. When opponents of “ObamaCare” bring up these and other concerns, supporters argue that “we would never make this or that mistake.” I wonder if they realize their response is both insulting to both the British and Canadian people, and a unparalleled display of arrogance on their part?

It is insulting because it dismisses the problems both health care systems are going through as easily avoidable, and implies that they merely lack either the curiosity or resolve to improve their health care systems. It is a display of arrogance to assume that the half-baked, not-yet implemented “ObamaCare” health care system will never have such issues.

But back to that article I saw the other day – A mother in the UK caused a bit of a sensation when she wrote on a blog that she was forced to put her daughter into long-term care because of government cuts in respite assistance. The daughter has profound, almost unimaginable needs – she is blind, quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. That a mother was forced to make the difficult decision is not, in and of itself, cause for the level of interest this little story kicked up across the pond. No, the underlying issue is that P.M. Cameron personally met with the mother and reassured her that he’d protect the interests of families like hers. P.M. Cameron knows a little of her struggle, he himself helped care for a child with cerebral palsy until his son died at age six, and I honestly believe he wanted to help her, and would do anything he could to help families in similar situations. Yet his country’s financial situation forced the U.K. to make this decision, and it is reasonable to fear such an outcome here in America.

You may be wondering about the album cover above – it is from something called “Operation Coffee Cup” campaign from 1961, when the Medicare program was being proposed. The costs and burdens of this socialized medical care program for retirement-age citizens are well documented, but by-and-large, most recipients of Medicare are happy with their coverage and their health care providers. That being said, many supporters of “ObamaCare” hold up Medicare as a successful example of government-run health care, though they typically ignore (or dismiss) the reality that Medicare is fraught with waste and that looming reimbursement cuts will drive many practitioners away from Medicare patients, and that some doctors are already refusing to accept new Medicare patients.

Bottom line, when health care funds are co-mingled with general government funds, in times of budget troubles, there is no reason to think that health care funds will be somehow protected.

Sources:

The Telegraph: NHS Waiting time targets for ambulances and A&E scrapped

Daily Mail: Dying hospital patient phoned switchboard begging for a drink after nurses said ‘No’

Daily Mail: Neglected by ‘lazy’ nurses, man, 22, dying of thirst rang the police to beg for water

Macleans.ca: Adding fuel to the doctor crisis

Operation Coffee Cup Campaign record: “Ronald Reagan speaks out against SOCIALIZED MEDICINE”

Wikipedia.com: Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine

ncpa.com: Social Security and Medicare Projections: 2009

theday.com: Elderly Say They Are Happy WIth The Way Medicare is

mainjustice.com: Obama: ‘We Are Going After The Waste, Fraud, and Abuse’

The Heritage Foundation: Obamacare and Medicare Provider Cuts: Jeopardizing Seniors’ Access

Houston Chronicle: Texas doctors opting out of Medicare at alarming rate

USA Today: Doctors limit new Medicare patients

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