Posts Tagged ‘healthcare reform’

Medicare

March 24, 2010

I have been really upset the past couple days.  On the heels of healthcare reform, I get a letter that I must find a new doctor.  Now, if you know anyone on Medicare who has to find a doctor, you know that is not an easy thing today.  Medicare reimbursement to doctors and other providers is so abysmal, a lot of doctors no longer see new patients.   If I find a doctor at all, the next issue will be finding a specialist if I ever need one.  This is just the beginning.  The other problem is the $500 billion in Medicare cuts at a time when the number of patients is rising.  The architect of how to do the $500 billion in cuts is the same British man who invented the National Health Service agency called “N.I.C.E.”  This is the board who decides how many “quality years” (QALY) you have left, and whether you will receive medical care.   This is the board who advocates no treatment at all for the sickest, and is the direct cause of thousands in England being put to death by dehydration while in a morphine induced coma (so their families can’t quite figure out what happened).   Looking at all this, and being without a physician, I realize I am “of an age”, and it scares me.  If I get sick, I may have to do my duty and die.  Actually, it will likely be decided for me.

After stewing for hours over what is happening to the old and the sick under Medicare (and likely to quickly get worse under “Obamacare” due to the consultations with N.I.C.E. by the Obama administration,) I had a change of thought.  I’m not going to put my hope for life or health in the government.  So many in our nation look to the government instead of God.  So many count on the government to come through for them for their income, house, disaster relief, healthcare, etc., etc.  But the government does a very bad job of being god.  However, the good news is:  God is still on the throne.  Unlike my doctor, God doesn’t leave the area.  He doesn’t take vacations, he doesn’t retire, and in fact, he never sleeps.  He doesn’t miss a thing.  Furthermore, I belong to God.  It is He who protects my health and well being.  As long as He has something for me to do on this earth, I’ll be alive to do it.  I won’t live one day less that He has planned for me, no matter what the government thinks.  When He comes for me, it will be on His timetable, and if He chooses to let the government be the instrument of my demise, well, we all go by some means.  It will still be God’s will, God’s plan, and God’s time to come for me.

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Healthcare Reform

March 23, 2010

All who are cheering our new healthcare reform ought to be studying the National Health Service in England.  In particular they ought to be looking at one of the many bureaucractic offices set up to run the Health Service “fairly”.   N.I.C.E. is the acronym for National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.  In reality it is set up to determine such things as how many quality years a person has left.  QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Years) puts you in your proper place in the rationing queue.  If you are an older person, or if you have a condition which someone from N.I.C.E. determines as causing your quality of life to be less, your QALY score is lower, and you either wait longer for care, or you don’t get it at all.  N.I.C.E. also determines such things as whether the NHS should offer certain treatments to anyone at all.  If a treatment helps some people, but not enough people, it is taken off the schedule completely and no one gets it.  Its not cost effective to use it for just a few.  So now everyone’s worth is determined by their QALY score and the cost effectiveness of treating them.  In fact the Brits call N.I.C.E.  by other names such as “National Institute of Cost Effectiveness” and “Nazi Institute for Commoner Extermination”.  The two men most instrumental in setting up N.I.C.E., Sir Michael Rawlings and Simon Stevens are both working with the U.S. government to determine the most efficient ways to run Medicare.  Sir Michael Rawlings has had video conferences with our health bureaucrats, and Simon Stevens is now living in the U.S. and advising Medicare.  In the Healthcare Reform package which just passed congress is a plan to save $500 billion from Medicare over 10 years.  This is supposed to help finance the reform. Mr. Stevens, one of the architects of N.I.C.E., is architect of that part of healthcare reform.  Nancy Pelosi hailed Healthcare Reform as being a historical landmark like Medicare.  Medicare looks like it will soon be a plan senior citizens will wish they could escape.  Although the quote was frequently thrown at us that Europe has better health statistics than we do, England does not.  England’s cancer survival rates trail ours by 10-20%, and so do their cardiovascular survival rates. That is despite Britain having had universal healthcare for 60 years.  As my own father used to say, “Everything costs something.”  Nothing is free.  If we want to give free health insurance to people who by choice do not work full time, and have the taxpayers cover it, something else has to give.  I just can’t champion Medicare when I paid into it for 40 years of my working life and now can’t find a doctor who will see Medicare patients because of its abysmal reimbursement to doctors.  Our new healthcare reform model is mirroring the British model, which has been a complete failure.  Wake up America, and keep your sense of urgency until November when we have another chance to elect a new congress and do healthcare reform right.

What Socialism Does to Hospitals

September 22, 2009

In all the healthcare debates, my prayer is that whatever we end up with, we will have something that glorifies God in our treatment of His children.  All humans need to be treated with respect as God’s much loved children.  They need kindness, dignity, compassion, and to be served with excellence.  In America I have volunteered and worked in several nonprofit hospitals.  Most of them were faith based organizations.  I saw a lot of people get first rate, compassionate care, and I know they never paid a cent for their care.  Thats how non-profit hospitals work.  They charge for the care they provide, but at the end of the day those who have no insurance or inadequate insurance end up paying according to what they can afford.  Many times that is nothing.  The hospitals write off the difference as part of their non-profit status.  What keeps them in business is the full pay patients who either have “good” insurance or pay a portion of their bills themselves because they can afford to do so.  What is likely to happen if we have a single payer system like England had for years, is these hospitals will be driven out of business and taken over by the government.  If they are government run, everything will be done with cost savings in mind.  And thats what is wrong with socialized healthcare, such as I lived with for years.  The care given is the minimum mandated by the national government.  The care is not based on values of love, compassion, kindness, dignity and respect, but on budgets and mandates. 

In this country some non-profit healthcare institutions rely on large donations for some of their revenue.   In a socialized system, the high, high taxes leave much less left over for donation.  After having more than half one’s income paid out in taxes, people tend to be in a less generous mood, even if they can still afford some additional generosity.  And lastly, since things are run by a government bureaucracy, its all about the good of the masses, not the good of the individual.  Read about the debates in England right now.  Doctors are being encouraged to consider first the good of society over the good of their patients.

Whereas some insurance companies treat people like statistics, at least the hospitals have maintained the ability to be more personal.  A good bit of that is lost if the hospital is a government hospital.  There is always a lot more mandate than money, and the stresses on the hospital show in the treatment of patients.  So, whatever the United States decides it wants to do, my prayer is the outcome will be something pleasing to our Heavenly Father, who is so concerned for persons, He knows the number of hairs on our heads and every tear we shed.  May we as a society be compassionate and kind, not a further coarsened culture.

Healthcare will always be a problem

August 26, 2009

I went to a healthcare town hall meeting today.  It was attended by  a couple hundred people.  There was probably a policeman for every 30 people at least.  While many questions were asked and comments made on both sides, it remained respectful, so I guess we won’t make news.

One of the comments made was about the Swedish model, so I decided to come home and do a couple hours research on healthcare in Sweden.  What they have is a public/private mix of providers with a federal/local mix of oversight and financing.  In American terms, everybody is on medicaid with the “better off” folks paying for it.  What is different in Sweden is the level of taxation.  Income tax rates are 31-57%.  Thats 31% for the lowest tax bracket.  In addition, there is a VAT (value added tax, or sales tax) of 25% on almost every purchase with some exceptions made for basic food etc.  This tax structure does buy a healthcare system where everyone is covered, and there is a very small co-payment.  What happened, though, was in a generation Sweden went from being the third richest nation in the world to being 22nd, behind most of the rest of Europe.  What also happened, despite the hefty taxes, was an increase in the deficit.  Sweden’s national debt in comparison to its gross domestic product is about twice ours.  The healthcare system Sweden got for the money has waiting lines.  Some of the waiting lines are life threatening, such as an 11 month wait for cardiac care.  Just google “Swedish Healthcare” and form your own opinion.  Also google “Swedish taxes”, “Swedish per capita income” and “Swedish national debt.”  Healthcare IS expensive, no matter what reforms are done. 

I agree with the Heritage Foundation  that what we really need to be asking is “What is the Value of what we are getting for our money?”  In our system, everyone who is truly sick gets cared for, and the cost of it gets settled eventually (a lot of charity write-offs etc).  In the Swedish system, at a high price to their country, everyone who is truly sick gets cared for—eventually, if they don’t die while on the waiting list.

Did Sarah Palin “make up” the part about death panels?

August 10, 2009

I just read the blog about  “Dean” saying Sarah Palin “made up” the fear of “death panels” for her son Trig.  I also just googled “Ezekiel Emanuel”.  He is the brother of Rahm Emanuel the president’s chief of staff, he is a bioethicist at the NIH, and he is on the whitehouse staff as an advisor for healthcare reform.  While he states he does not support state assisted suicide, he does consider mental abilities when deciding who should get healthcare.  He does support withholding healthcare for people with mental disabilities.  This is not “made up”.  It was just there in black and white.  However, I would suppose by now the whitehouse has managed to pull down every website about Ezekiel Emanuel I just read.  Look anyway.  They might have missed something.