Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Lab Rats Are Dead

Lab rats.  We all know what they are.  They are those unfortunate creatures experimented upon for the benefit of saving human lives.  Their purpose is to test whether treatments for diseases and injuries will be safe for humans.  If these animals suffer adverse reactions to these treatments, then these treatments do not make it out of the laboratory.

There are other kinds of lab rats.  Some have described the states as laboratories for possible Federal government policies.  Take New Jersey, for instance.  Governor Chris Christie managed to balance the state budget ahead of schedule in a heavily Democrat state. (See previous post.)  This accomplishment will embolden many Conservatives to do the same in Washington D.C.  But the Health Care system in the state of Massachusettes is another story.  More people signed up than anticipated when the health care plan was enacted in 2007.  This has caused the plan to be over budget since its inception.  State approved health care providers, all not-for-profits, responded by increasing premiums to cover the rising costs.  The state enacted cost containment measures, price controls, to keep premiums from rising.  This has resulted in the insurance providers refusing to insure any more patients at the rates the state is demanding.  All the while, those who are enrolled in the plan are mandated to deal only with state sanctioned insurance providers, so they are prohibited from switching to other insurance providers who cover less and thus charge less.

Yet the MS plan is the model touted by the Obama administration as to how the Federal Government should deal with health care.  The problems the MS plan has produced will be super-sized by the Obama health care plan.  James C. Capretta writes: " The risk of cost overruns is even higher at the federal level than in Massachusetts. The Congressional Budget Office projects just 17 million people will be getting subsidized insurance through the state-based exchanges in 2016. But the population with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line--roughly the group targeted for subsidized coverage--is more like 130 million people. CBO assumes the vast majority of low- and moderate-wage families will stay in job-based plans with no additional federal help. But what if they are wrong? Employers are already looking for ways to shed as much of their health care bill as they possibly can onto taxpayers. If 30 or even 50 million Americans end up in the exchanges, federal costs will soar." (From Kaiser Health News, via The Christian Science Monitor.)

As Capretta points out, the conduct of Obama's team indicates that they plan to deal with this nation wide in the same way MS is dealing with its plan's cost overruns: by putting caps on costs.  The result nation wide will be the same as it has been in MS.  Insurers will refuse to provide coverage which will in the end make access to treatment more restricted for Americans whom Obama wants to force to buy health insurance.  All in the name of costs.  (Mitt Romney's defense of the MS plan, enacted while he was governor of MS, should be reason enough not to support his Presidential run in 2012.)

Another model for Obama Care has been the British health care system. In Britain, only those of the higher income brackets have access to the private health care plans they choose.  The rest of the population have no choice but to put their lives in the hands of the government bureaucracy.  Recently, the British health care system has sought to cut patient access to medical care.  Here is a partial list of these cuts as outlined an an article on the British news website Daily Telegraph, via Gene Veith's blog:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.
* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.
* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.
* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.
* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.
* Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.
* Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.

The article states later: "As well as sending more patients home to die...the savings would be made by admitting fewer terminally ill cancer patients to hospital because they were struggling to cope with symptoms such as pain. Instead, more patients would be given advice on 'self management' of their condition"

In America, the phrase for these savings is " cost cutting. "  In Britain, the phrase is "efficiency savings." In any language, this means more people being denied the care that would be available in a market-based system.  In any language, this means the state will determine who lives and who dies.

Animal Rights activists, such as PETA, equate all creatures as having equal worth as human beings.  Sometimes they will sabotage laboratories to "rescue" the lab animals from being experimented upon.  I hope that the newly elected conservatives will act as a sort of political-PETA, not only sabotaging but overturning Obama's health care "experiment."  Because in Obama's health care experiment, THE LAB RATS R US.  But the difference between Obama's experiment and actual laboratory experiments is that in Obama's experiment, when the lab rats die, the experiment is deemed a success!

(Mr. Guthrie has a pre-existing condition called type 2 diabetes.  Yet he is unwilling for the country to be forced to pay for his treatment.  Nor is he willing to empower a bureaucrat to, in the name of "cost cutting" or "efficiency savings", to strategerize his untimely demise.)

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