Sunday, March 8, 2009

What if he succeeds?

There is a lot hubbub on Rush Limbaugh’s comments about wanting Obama to fail. People on the Left are accusing Rush of a great many things, my favorite being that Rush is guilty of treason. Now coming as someone that criticized Bush on a lot of things over the last 8 years, I know most of the arguments and especially the treason argument is intellectually dishonest and frankly really low brow. Dissent is still patriotic, no matter who is in the White House. It’s hypocritical to say any different just because a Democrat is it’s resident instead of a Republican.

Only Rush knows exactly what he meant, when he said it. My personal interpretation is that he was talking about particular economic, social and foreign policies that he wants to fail. It’s his right as an American citizen to say whatever he damn well pleases. I don’t have to agree with him but I have no right to forcibly shut him up. Those that do probably never learned much in History class, particularly the lectures on Fascism and Stalinism. Yet it brings up an important point, what if Obama succeeds in implementing his economic, social and foreign policies?

What if Obama passes his Health Care “Reform?” How will that affect the average you? There are many things to consider in the long term, that isn’t being talked about in the media. What will happen to the quality of Health Care? Above all, this is what I consider the most important question. I think most proponents of a Universal Health Care system, think that the quality of care will remain the same as they are now. That the only difference is that more people will have access. They are delusional.

One thing the government does really well is put price controls on anything they touch. The Left claims it’s all in the name of fairness, for the poor. It’s easy to attack insurance carriers about the high cost of health care, but when the government becomes the insurance carrier, will dissent still be patriotic? Think about this, if the government wants to cut costs on health procedures, the easiest way is to put price controls in place to stop doctors from charging “exorbitant” fees. The Government already does this with Medicare and Medicaid, which causes the doctors to have to charge more to private insurance carriers in order to pay for little things like, equipment, supplies, nurses, diagnostic equipment, even conferences to learn new techniques and learn about new medicines to help extent human longevity. The doctor might still have medical school loans to pay off and he might have the audacity to think he deserves some compensation for his/her years of training and hard work helping those with medical needs.

So what are we going to cut? The doctor will have costs that vary depending on market conditions yet will be saddles with a fixed income from the Government. Will the doctor trim the fat on equipment and diagnostic tools? The patients will suffer from an inability to properly diagnose illnesses.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, the would be architect of Obama’s Health Care system even said in his book Critical, that people will have to forgo expensive procedures in order to cut costs, “Those items, procedures, and interventions… that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.” Some of these unnecessary procedures are things like, CT Scans, MRIs, Experimental Cancer and AIDS treatment, pretty much anything that involves cutting edge technology and research. They are expensive because they are still in trials and haven’t been streamlined by industry and business. Daschle talks about his desire to create a federal planning board to make Americans’ health care decisions. This system is the same as they have in Britain. This same system denies patients with new treatments for Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. I really would like some to explain how that is in the best interest of the patient.

Let’s look at the hypothetical, what if the doctor is forced to take a pay cut as well. I can hear the argument now; doctors make too much money off the backs of the poor. It is unfair to pay $100 for a Cortisone shot and just like CEOs, the doctors are making too much money. This totally disregards the fact that a doctor has to charge $100 to a Cortisone shot to make up for the lost $3000 because Medicare has a cap on what they pay. I’m of course talking about the present situation, but a Government run system will on exacerbate the problem.

So in order to cut costs, doctors must take a pay cut. Who do you think will want to become a doctor, when they can make much more money as a lawyer suing doctors for malpractice? It’s simple economics, a person can make $X as a lawyer or $X-100, 000 as a doctor plus have to pay for sky-high malpractice insurance. What would you choose? As a result, the best and brightest will go to Harvard Law instead of Harvard Medical. Who will be left to fill those spots at Harvard Medical? It’s easy, the second tier candidates. Then who will be left to fill the spots at those second tier medical schools? The third tier medical students, you see where I’m going with this. If you think the quality of doctors coming out of the Island of St. Thomas Medical School is a joke now. Just wait until after Obamacare. Lower quality doctors mean higher rates of malpractice, which in turn means more lawyers, creating a positive feedback system that only lowers the quality of health care for all.

This of course leads to a second point in Obama’s Health Care Plan. Much like his Stimulus Bill and Mortgage Bill, it fails to address some fundamental issues that contribute to rising health care costs.

As I mentioned above, a lot of the costs attributed to cost control measures put in place under Medicare. According to the American Medical Association, Medicare will cut payments to doctors by 40% by 2018. Assuming Obamacare doesn’t pass, this extra 40% will be carried by private insurance and people paying out of pocket. If a procedure cost $5000, and Medicare will only pay $4000, the other $1000 will have to be picked up by someone. Insurance companies will pass this extra cost onto the consumer via an increase in premiums and/or increase co-payments.

A hospital is required by law to offer medical care to anyone regardless if they can pay or not. So if person A comes in to the hospital with an illness, the costs attributed to that patient will be transferred to the people with the resources to pay, increasing insurance premiums and out of pockets hospital fees. The hard luck cases about people that can’t pay their medical bills, means that the hospital must charge more for the people that can pay and/or the people with medical insurance in order to stay running. Hospitals kind of need electricity, doctors, nurses, beds, orderlies, surgical equipment, diagnostic equipment, technicians to operate and service the equipment, janitorial staff, … etc, and the staff must be competent in order to stay clear of lawsuits. Lawsuits are driving up the costs of health care thanks to a failed Tort law. Tort reform is a must if we are really going to help reform health care.

This of course is only one tiny part of the health care debate. The economics are simple; it will cost a lot of money to pay for Obamacare. Will the top 2% be able to afford universal coverage?

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