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US Government Health Care Foul-ups and Meddlings
(Make sure to check out Canadian Health Care and British Health Care and Government Kidnappers [Texas Cancer] and Medical Lobbying)
1/29/11 (By Travis)
WikiLeaks: Cuba banned Sicko for depicting
'mythical' healthcare system
The Guardian ^ | 17 December 2010 | Amelia Hill
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.
But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so "disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room".
Castro's government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it "knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them."
5/28/10 (By Travis)
Texas doctors opting out of Medicare at alarming rate
5/17/10 Houston Chronicle
The uncertainty proved too much for Dr. Guy Culpepper, a Dallas-area family
practice doctor who says he wrestled with his decision for years before opting
out in March. It was, he said, the only way “he could stop getting bullied and
take control of his practice.”
“You do Medicare for God and country because you lose money on it,” said Culpepper, a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. “The only way to provide cost-effective care is outside the Medicare system, a system without constant paperwork and headaches and inadequate reimbursement.”
1/21/10 (By Travis)
California to Set Time Limit to See Doctors
Regulations to be announced Wednesday require family practitioners in health maintenance organizations to see patients seeking an appointment within 10 business days. The deadline for specialists is 15 days.
If the state decrees it, it shall be so? Do these politicians really believe they can alter the laws of economics they have created? What if Canada or Britain or some other country with socialized medicine decreeded a similar wait time? We actually saw what happened, in Britain the patients sat in ambulances or in a different area of the hospital so they would not count as 'waiting in the ER'.
12/1/09 (By Travis)
Clinic with two doors, a symbol
of two-tier care
One side is for patients with insurance, the other for those who pay up front
Patients and doctor happy with one system, neither happy with another. Notice the cost is the same, although the insurance company gets away with paying less. In fact, it makes little sense for these sorts of routine visits to even be covered by insurance, insurance companies are useless middle men, theoretically valuable only for massive medical bills in the case of rare illness or accident.
3/29/09 (By Travis)
National Health Preview / The Massachusetts debacle, coming soon to your neighborhood.
3/8/09 (By Travis)
The state is trying to shut down a New York City doctor's ambitious plan to treat uninsured patients for around $1,000 a year.
Dr. John Muney offers his patients everything from mammograms to mole removal at his AMG Medical Group clinics, which operate in all five boroughs.
"I'm trying to help uninsured people here," he said.
His patients agree to pay $79 a month for a year in return for unlimited office visits with a $10 co-pay.
But his plan landed him in the crosshairs of the state Insurance Department, which ordered him to drop his fixed-rate plan - which it claims is equivalent to an insurance policy.
Muney insists it is not insurance because it doesn't cover anything that he can't do in his offices, like complicated surgery. He points out his offices do not operate 24/7 so they can't function like emergency rooms.
"I'm not doing an insurance business," he said. "I'm just providing my services at my place during certain hours."
He says he can afford to charge such a small amount because he doesn't have to process mountains of paperwork and spend hours on billing.
"If they leave me alone, I can serve thousands of patients," he said.
The state believes his plan runs afoul of the law because it promises to cover unplanned procedures - like treating a sudden ear infection - under a fixed rate. That's something only a licensed insurance company can do.
"The law is strict on how insurance is defined," said an Insurance Department spokesman.
A possible solution that Muney's lawyer crafted would force patients to pay more than $10 for unplanned procedures.
They are waiting to see if the state will accept the compromise. Still, Muney is unhappy because, he said, "I really don't want to charge more. They're forcing me."
One of his patients, Matthew Robinson, 52, was furious to learn the state was interfering with the plan.
"The whole point is, he [Muney] found a way of paying his rent, paying his workers, and getting to see patients for the price," said Robinson.
"How can the state dictate you've got to charge more?"
State regulators frown on NYC doctor's flat fee
3/4/08 The Examiner
Supporters say flat-fee plans let doctors strip away insurance company costs and red tape to make everyday medicine more accessible and less hectic. Critics fear they siphon much-needed primary care doctors from insurance networks and raise questions about equity - especially models that promise to make doctors more available to the fee-paying patients. The American Medical Association ays retainer practices raise ethical concerns but also expand health care options.
This story is of great interest because it illustrates how and why government regulations are driving up the price of health insurance and hurting the poorest of the poor. Of course, we might question why it would even be an issue for a doctor(s) to offer 'health insurance' in this way? It might be a great business model and lower costs and increase access to care.
The problem is that health insurance is a misnomer, it is not insurance, it is a social safety net, a socialist scheme of sorts, in which wealth is forcibly transferred from one segment of the population to another. The social planners in each state constructing the complex insurance regulations are influenced by an unholy alliance of subconscious altruistic egoism, and special interest advocacy, such as the the trial bar, preexisting insurance companies, and the various subspecialty medical lobbies.
Which raises a final point. The AMA is not quite sure how to react to this, for a variety of reasons, but they are certainly not overly supportive. We should not forget that physician lobbying groups often represent a considerable hindrance as we pursue a stateless healthcare system, ironic, as doctors and their patients both have the most to gain, in my opinion.
3/8/09 (By Travis)
Worldwide Experiments in Socialism (Medicine) [Required Reading]
liberty-page.com An excellent compilation of news stories detailing the failings of socialized medicine in other countries, even more extensive than exists on this site.
Two interesting graphs, bear in mind Switzerland has the next freest healthcare system in the world besides our own:
Perhaps this is a reason why the United States leads the world in cancer survival:
Posted 11/28/08 (By Travis)
Speaking of interviews, I did want to add to the record a brief analysis of a recurring observation.
At nearly all the hospitals and large medical centers across the country at which I have interviewed, I have noticed large sections, if not the whole buildings, have been named after area industries and the leaders of those industries.
In Michigan, Henry Ford Hospital is a massive hospital in downtown Detroit with associated affiliated spread throughout the area. In Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston Salem, North Carolina, the JR Reynolds name is liberally plaqued throughout hospital wings. In Christiana Care Medical Center in Delaware, the DuPont name sits atop a few buildings and the AI DuPont children's hospital bears its name. These are just a few examples, but it raises the question of how all this money was donated/transfered from such diverse industries (automobile, tobacco, and chemical) to their respective healthcare communities.
Was this money tax money? Did government take this money and invest it in healthcare? No, this money was given voluntarily; it was donated from the private fortunes of the founders of these industries or from the corporations themselves. It was spent locally, where we might assume the donators were able to supervise the money in order that it be spent in accordance with their wishes in an efficient and practical way.
Why would they do this? We must assume their motives were entirely selfless.
This pattern is reflective of the innate goodness in people, the idea that people are naturally good and caring, that wealth creators give back to their communities voluntarily. In my opinion, it adds credence to the libertarian philosophy. After all, if government had taxed these wealth creators even less, regulated their industries less, and accordingly spent less on public 'services', surely the charitable and community investments of the wealth creators would have been even greater.
Posted 6/27/08 ( by Travis)
of waiting, man pulls tooth
The Australian ^ | June 25, 2008 | Danny Rose
Jeff Miners said he extracted his own molar tooth about four weeks ago, after he had languished on a series of public dental waiting lists since 2001.
Posted 6/27/08 ( by Travis)
in oil wealth, Venezuela suffers healthcare crisis
boston.com ^ | April 9, 2008 | Chris Kraul
Palacios, the nation's largest public maternity hospital and once the nation's beacon of neonatal care, has fallen on hard times. Half of the anesthesiologists and pediatricians on staff two years ago have quit. Basic equipment such as respirators, ultrasound monitors, and incubators are either broken or scarce. Six of 12 birth rooms have been shut.
On one day in March, five newborns were crowded into one incubator, said Dr. Jesús Méndez Quijada, a psychiatrist and Palacios staff member who is a past president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation
The deaths of the six infants "were not a case of bad luck, but the consequence of an accumulation of circumstances that have created this alarming situation," Quijada said.
The problems at Concepción Palacios are symptoms of a variety of ills plaguing the public healthcare system under leftist firebrand President Hugo Chávez, Quijada and others say.
Cases of malaria nearly doubled between 1998, the year before Chávez took office, and 2007. Incidents of dengue fever more than doubled over the same period.
Poorly paid doctors regularly demonstrate at hospitals from Puerto La Cruz in the northeast to Maracay in the industrial heartland, demanding back pay and protesting the lack of equipment and supplies. Others are leaving in droves for Spain, Australia, or the Middle East, where they can make 10 times the $600 monthly average salary they earn in public hospitals.
A lack of openness has affected other facets of public health too. After the medical establishment blamed him for an outbreak of dengue fever last summer, Chávez halted weekly publication of an epidemiology report that for 50 years had tallied occurrences of infectious diseases nationwide.
Chávez has also been accused of appointing cronies to manage public health.
Posted 5/26/08 ( by Travis)
Two great healthcare stories focusing on market orientated solutions to reforming healthcare:
Wal-Mart fix US health care
MSN Money ^ | 27 may 08 | Jim Jubak
sets pace on reform
Waterbury Republican-American ^ | May 27, 2008 | Editorial
Posted 4/10/08 ( by Travis)
Free Market Healthcare
Here is the powerpoint of the presentation given two days ago at Touro University AMSA/SOMA health policy week. It is 110 slides and the presentation lasted about two hours. There is some video and audio, recorded on digital camera and mp3 respectively, but because of technical limitations doesn't cover the whole thing and so I didn't post those. Perhaps I'll try to venture down this path again in the near future and create a more dynamic internet presentation, maybe on youtube or something.
Posted 4/6/08 ( by Travis)
Disputes Clinton Story About Uninsured Pregnant Woman
FoxNews.com ^ | 04/05/08 | Aaron Bruns
Why we shouldn't trust politicians. This story demonstrates a few things; an inaccurate worldview, a factual misunderstanding of the US health system, and an irresponsible, almost reckless approach to informing the public on key issues affecting the nation. For example:
Bryan Holman, had played host to Mrs. Clinton in his home before the Ohio primary. Deputy Holman said in a telephone interview that a conversation about health care led him to relate the story of Ms. Bachtel. Deputy Holman knew Ms. Bachtel’s story only secondhand, having learned it from close relatives of the woman. Ms. Bachtel’s relatives did not return phone calls Friday.
So, from this information, Clinton says at a rally:
“It hurts me that in our country, as rich and good of a country as we are, this young woman and her baby died because she couldn’t come up with $100 to see the doctor.”
And the whole things is false.
Posted 12/2/07 (By Travis)
In Hospice Care, Longer Lives means money lost
Hundreds of hospice providers across the country are facing the catastrophic financial consequence of what would otherwise seem a positive development: their patients are living longer than expected.
Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.
Just another example of the perverse incentives resultant of government control of healthcare. Here is another previously posted instance of this sort of thing occurring over in Britain.
For reasons that are not fully understood, problems with the cap have been most prevalent at small, for-profit hospices in Southern and Western states like Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma.
This may not be what is occurring in this case but, from an ideological point of view, it would be interesting to do a study comparing death rates of patients with similar conditions in for profit vs non profit vs state owned hospices. I wonder if patients live longer in the private for profit hospices simply on the basis of their private for-profit nature?
Posted 10/7/07 (By Travis)
G.M. Pact Calls for a Push for Healthcare Reform
10/6/07 New York Times
A G.M. spokeswoman, Michelle Bunker, said the company had not specifically called for a single-payer health care plan, in which a government program would be created to offer health care benefits.
Corporate welfare at its worse, GM, owing some $52 billion in health care liabilities to its union members will soon try to force socialized medicine upon the citizens of the United States.
Boycott American! Buy Japanese! It's the patriotic thing to do. :)
Posted 9/23/07 (By Travis)
Farmers rediscover allure of tobacco No longer subsidized, crop gains acres in U.S. (Required Reading)
9/19/07 Wall Street Journal
(Could the same be said of medicine?)
Posted 9/16/07 (By Travis)
Ron Paul interview on HealthCare
7/19/07 The Kaiser Foundation
This is a great interview touching on a couple key points:
1) healthcare (along with clothing, housing, jobs etc..) is not a 'right' as to attain these 'rights' you need to violate the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of another
2) getting the government out of healthcare
3) liberalizing practice rights for non physicians
4) explaining how freedom is good for alternative medicine. Actually, this past weekend Ron Paul had an event in Utah:
Saturday evening, he will join a small group of supporters for a $2,000-a-plate dinner where he will address his Health Freedom initiative, which focuses on expanded access to alternative and homeopathic medicine and to information on dietary supplements.
5) illustrating how insurance isn't really insurance, that the Kaiser Foundation's premises about the unaffordability of insurance are skewed because they don't separate the most common 'social planning' type of insurance from true 'medical disaster' insurance.
6) promotion of health savings accounts, decreasing the influence of of 3rd party payers, and the gradual weaning of Americans off the dependency of government programs. Here is a previous article by Dr. Paul on health savings accounts.
Posted 8/26/07 (By Travis)
Cancer Survival Rates Highest in US
England is on a par with Poland despite the NHS spending three times more on health care. Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.
Experts push NHS to use US-style cancer care
8/26/07 Telegraph (UK)
LIKE many other British cancer sufferers before him, Rob Ellert travelled to one of America’s leading hospitals to give himself a better chance of survival.
Anni Matthews, 53, who is fighting breast cancer, was told by British doctors in February 2003 that she would be lucky to live until the Christmas of that year. Matthews, a former property company director, increased her chances of survival by travelling to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachu-setts, where her treatment was helped by new “wonder drugs”.
These two stories
give us some things to be hopeful about. Despite the fact that the US system suffers from intensive
government interference and regulation, we still have enough of a free market component to give
advantage in certain aspects of medical care.
It also illustrates a misfixiation on certain statistics, such as the number of US 'uninsured' as many of these European countries have so-called 'free/universal healthcare'.
Posted 8/7/07 (By Travis)
Publix to offer 7 popular prescription antibiotics for free
8/6/07 South Florida Sun-Sentinel
supplies of the seven drugs will be available at all 684 of the chain's pharmacies in five Southern
"It can't be any more affordable than free," Crist said.
With health care costs one of the biggest challenges facing many Americans, Crist said that the private sector's involvement in the solution was "a great trend."
Wal-Mart last year started offering hundreds of prescription drugs of all different kinds, ranging from diabetes medication to high blood pressure drugs, for $4.
Kmart, a unit of Sears Holding Corp., began last month offering a 90-day supply of generic drugs for $15. Now, more than 300 drugs are included in that program.
An example of private industry, the market economy, lowering prescription prices for consumers. The lower prices and resulting increase in access occurs without government expansion, regulation, or taxes. This sort of cost cutting would occur in other areas of healthcare except for the stifling conditions imposed by government.
Yet, the intentions of the Publix company are rooted in the profit motive, while government attempts to better healthcare are, ostensibly, rooted in what is considered relative purity. It is important to differentiate between intention and result. Ideally, the two can be matched, once the realization occurs that the profit motive, the market economy, and freedom can provide the best healthcare to the poorest of the poor. Once those without financial interest advocate for such policies, when those advocating positive agendas are not just those with direct business interests, only then will 'compassionate conservative' be correctly defined.
Posted 7/26/07 (By Travis)
Dem Eyes Breast Test 'Wait Woe'
7/22/07 New York Post
Mammography centers in New York City are closing at an "alarming" rate, causing a 171 percent increase in wait times for the cancer-detecting procedure, according to a study by Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Since 1999, 67 mammography sites, more than a quarter of the city's supply, have closed, the Brooklyn Democrat found.
The problem is that Medicare pays only $83 for a procedure that costs $125 to provide, said Weiner, who will introduce legislation to increase payments.
"Increasing access to mammograms clearly saves lives," said Weiner. "Raising the reimbursement rate will ensure that women have increased options to protect their most important asset: their health."
Most women wait at least five weeks for a routine mammography appointment, the survey found, with waits in Brooklyn and The Bronx averaging two months.
Another illustration of the dangers stemming from top down statist control over medicine. Notice the root solution, removing government from setting the prices in the first place, is not considered or mentioned in this story. What is the new reimbursement rate Rep Weiner will choose and how will he choose it? Probably no different than how our friends on the left set the 'minimum wage', arbitrarily and capriciously.
Better to let market forces set the price; not only is the 'right value' reached, but wait times will be reduced and access to care increased.
Fix Medicare - Not Prices
Posted 7/14/07 (By Travis)
Q. When is 45 million not 45 million?
An excellent piece which delivers a more accurate picture of the number of uninsured.
However, unmentioned in this piece are a few other pertinent facts. First, that the starting number of 45 million is actually the greatest estimate within a range that goes as low as 19 million. Secondly, a significant percent of the uninsured are young, wealthy, or both. For example, it is estimated that 25% of the uninsured make 5 times the poverty limit. Thus, it is likely the graph shown below actually overstates the true number of chronic underinsured:
In other health news, Congress can't resist expanding socialized medicine even further. 'For the children' that is.
22 Million New Smokers Needed: Funding SCHIP Expansion with a Tobacco Tax
7/11/07 Heritage Foundation
Posted 4/12/07 (By Travis)
Are Mini Clinics a Good thing, State's increase their Scrutiny
5/20/06 National Conference of State Legislators
Some states regulate mini-clinics by requiring physician ownership. In Indiana, MinuteClinic acts as a kind of franchisor, selling outlets to local doctors.
The above is posted as background. Diligent readers may recall past posts (now grouped under Medical Lobbying) describing the attempts of doctor organizations to squash new upstart mini-clinics, which threaten their businesses by exposing inefficiencies in their present system. However, these attempts have unintended consequences, as seen in a recent email sent to all students and faculty of Touro University, a private Osteopathic medical school in Nevada:
University Nevada has been developing a clinical practice facility for faculty, staff, and students.
We ran into a serious obstacle in February when we discovered that non-physician owned
corporations could not provide patient care in Nevada. After extensive research, we discovered
that many states with similar laws had enacted legislation or regulations to enable private
not-for-profit medical schools to create clinical practices. At first we thought that we would have
to wait until 2009 for the next legislative session to introduce enabling legislation. However, Sen.
Joe Heck, DO graciously offered an amendment to a bill that he had introduced earlier and included
new language that would enable private-not-for-profit medical schools to deliver patient care. That
bill, S.B. 412, was passed by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Good Friday, thus achieving
a very important milestone. It will next go to the full Senate and if passed by the Senate on to an
Assembly committee, etc. We are optimistic that “our bill” will become law this legislative
All of us owe Sen. Heck much gratitude for his fine work and support. When you see him, please thank him personally.
Why does the state of Nevada have the power to determine who or what 'class' of people, own certain businesses?
In article 1 section 6 of the US constitution it is written:
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.
This was done because many people in the United States immigrated from Europe in search of freedom, religious, and otherwise, and a place where all men were equal in the eyes of the law. In Europe there were different sets of laws, rules, and customs for the nobility as opposed to the 'common folk'. We need to ask today if we have merely substituted nomenclature. Instead of 'prince' we have 'doctor', instead of 'duke' we have 'lawyer', and instead of 'knight' we have 'manicurists'. Manicurist? Yea, even manicurist.
The point being that all these distinctive subcategories of 'classes' or 'people' are accorded special privileges solely on the basis of title. These privileges result in their enrichment and benefit, at the expense of the 'common folk' or 'those without fancy titles'.
As history has shown it is most often the 'common folk' whose productivity and innovation create the most prosperity and advances. Giving them the freedom to own medical clinics free of government coercion would certainly be a good start.
Posted 4/9/07 (By Travis)
No Drug Price Controls
1/21/07 John Stossel
But government monopolies like the VA never embrace innovation in the same way the private market does. And sure enough, the VA now rations drugs. If you are a VA patient and you need a new and expensive drug, you can't get it. Writes Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute and author of "Miracle Cure: How to Solve America's Health-Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn't the Answer", "Only 19 percent of drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 are listed on the VA formulary, and only 38 percent of drugs approved in the 1990s are listed. ...
The cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, for example, isn’t on the VA’s list, even though it’s shown remarkable success at lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. ".
In other words, the department keeps a rein on costs by withholding drugs from veterans. <.>
When government controls prices, it must eventually ration supplies. Consumers suffer. When the product is medicine, the results could be catastrophic.
Posted 2/14/07 (By Travis)
Do we want socialized medicine?
2/14/07 Walter Williams
Posted 1/17/07 (By Travis)
Governor Schwarzenegger Should Go to Nashville (Required Reading)
1/17/06 American Thinker
Nowadays it is easy to hear the pundits and media lauding the respective 'pioneering' universal healthcare efforts of CA gov Schwarzenegger and GOP presidential hopeful Gov Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Yet, there is nothing innately 'pioneering' about these policies, although perhaps they are pioneering in the sense they offer new 'tweaks' in the way with which they zigzag in the same direction.
In fact, these efforts have been tried before in Tennessee and this, rather inspiring, article lays it out the results so well, IMO, it has been added to 'Required Reading'.
In July 2005 Sundquist was named head of a national panel on improving Medicaid.
You'll see the humor in that after reading the article. :)
Posted 1/15/07 (By Travis)
A Disabled Son Imperils Family's Immigration Hope
12/27/06 Wall Street Journal
I meant to post this story some time ago because I think it is quite illustrative. For background, a couple in Brazil discovered their son had a rare disease:
The couple soon realized that Igor's condition would require careful management and virtually
around-the-clock monitoring, not to mention a panoply of special drugs. The Souzas had access to
free care through Brazil's vast public health-care network, but the large hospitals and long waiting
lists were difficult to navigate. To get Igor to the doctor, Fernanda rose at 4 a.m., taking two
buses to line up just to make an appointment for a month later. The family couldn't afford private
care on Mr. Souza's $300 a month salary working in a restaurant.
The Souzas saw an answer thousands of miles to the north, on Martha's Vineyard where Brazilian immigrants are the backbone of the local tourism industry. In 1989, Mr. Souza's father, José, found summer work in a restaurant called the Navigator, eventually settling here in 1997. <.>
Mr. Souza says he has paid almost all of Igor's medical bills -- about $20,000 annually -- out of pocket, without insurance or help from government programs. He feared accepting aid would jeopardize his family's attempt to gain permanent U.S. residency.
The point here is that this couple left 'free healthcare', aka socialized medicine, for the private system here in the United States. Once here they did not purchase insurance or use government programs and were able to attain care better than that which they left behind.
Posted 1/9/07 (By Travis)
Gov. seeks sweeping health system reforms
1/8/07 LA Times
Where to start with this one? The Governor's misguided attempt to follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts yields this gem:
Schwarzenegger would tax doctors 2% of their gross revenue and place a 4% tax on hospitals.
This is interesting because our friends on the left (and even today's right) routinely justify tax increases on cigarettes because it discourages their use by raising the price. Yet, with healthcare the result should be different? The same tune is sung when gas prices rise and a 'windfall tax' on oil companies is suggested.
Posted 11/29/06 (By Travis)
The Therapeutic State The Myth of Health Insurance (Required Reading)
May 2003 Foundation For Economic Freedom (and a good related article)
Posted 11/20/06 (By Travis)
How to Cure Health Care (Required Reading)
Nov 2001 Hoover Institute Milton Friedman
Posted 10/13/06 (By Travis)
Fix Medicare - Not Prices
It is tempting to think that Medicare's payment system exists to benefit physicians who know how to play the game. But few physicians enjoy having their practices thrown into turmoil by payment changes uttlerly unrelated to the value they provide.
A more plausible explanation is that Medicare's pricing system exists to serve Washington's political class. Politicians can use the perennial threat of payment cuts to shake down wealthy physicians for political contributions. Organizations that lobby on behalf of physicians - like the AMA and the AAFP - rake in membership fees as well. It is little wonder that, according to the watchdog group Political Money Line, the health-care industry spends more on political contributions and lobbying than any other.
This is madness. The government has no business setting prices for physicians' services. Until Congress lets the market set those prices, Medicare will continue to purchase sub-standard care and encourage shakedowns that benefit no one but politicians and lobbyists.
Posted 9/12/06 (By Travis)
Where Americans live can affect how long they live
Health disparities are widely considered an issue of minorities and the poor being unable to find or afford good medical care. But Murray's government-funded study shows the problem is far more complex, and that geography plays a crucial role.
The longest-living whites were not the relatively wealthy, which Murray calls "Middle America." They are edged out, by a year, by low-income residents of the rural Northern Plains states in the Midwest, where the men tend to reach age 76 and the women 82.
Murray was surprised to find that lack of health insurance explained only a small portion of those gaps. Instead, differences in alcohol and tobacco use, blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity seemed to drive death rates.
Most important, he said, will be pinpointing geographically defined factors — such as shared ancestry, dietary customs, local industry, what regions are more or less prone to physical activity — that in turn influence those health risks.
This is certainly an interesting study; we are always told that there is a healthcare crisis in America and that folks aren't getting the healthcare they need, yet it appears here that lifestyle and culture are playing a much greater role. In fact, life-expectancy has never been an adequate measure of modern healthcare, a view which is probably not shared by many in the medical community.
It is not a coincidence that the author of this study looked at Appalachian whites, inner city blacks, and Native Americans. Most likely, he was aiming for conclusions quite different than the ones he has inadvertently reinforced. These were the same populations studied in 'Welfare; History, Results, and Reform' and it was found that condescending, de-empowering, paternal governmental programs were significantly correlated with not just poverty, but sociologic failings like drug abuse and family structure. IMHO, the correlation was significant enough to equal causation. If true, might it not also be the case that these same government policies, the handouts, the freebees, the lack of respect for property, all of which corrupt and degrade the human spirit, are also at least partially responsible for the cultures and behaviors that equate with lower life expectancies?
This more precise measure of health disparities will enable federal officials to better target efforts to battle inequalities, said Dr. Wayne Giles of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which helped fund Murray's work.
Inequalities of income or healthcare should not be a target or concern of government! Government action will only make whatever token inequalities exist worse.
"It's not just telling people to be active or not to smoke," he said. "We need to create the environment which assists people in achieving a healthy lifestyle."
I disagree. My advice would be the same as Fredrick Douglas's:
I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us! Do nothing with us!..-<>-.. ..just let him alone! Your interference is doing him a positive injury!
It is the doing with them that has already played the mischief with them.
(Added to 'Welfare; History, Results, and Reform' and 'US Government Health')
Posted 8/31/06 (By Travis)
California Assembly passes bill to provide universal health care
8/28/06 Mercury News
Luckily Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto this bill. I really just posted it for this quote:
"The reason health care is messed up is the government," argued Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta. "So why would we want to create even more government?"
Posted 6/14/06 (by Dobber)
AMA advocating tax increase (another link here)
6/14/06 Chicago Sun Times
Doctors are mad that Americans are making decisions that they don't agree with.
Millions of upper-income Americans refuse to buy health insurance because they're young and healthy and figure they don't need it.
Seems reasonable to me. Poor people in Kansas don't buy hurricane insurance. Probably a good decision on their part. Well, who am I to judge, it's their decision.
But now the American Medical Association wants to force them to buy coverage.
At its annual meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, the nation's largest doctors' group called for mandatory health insurance for anyone who makes more than five times the poverty level. That works out to $49,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a family of four.
No one would go to jail for refusing to buy coverage. The AMA instead suggested using the tax code to force compliance. There would be incentives such as tax credits for people who buy insurance and higher taxes for those who don't.
Hmm, an annual meeting of the American Medical Association, eh? I would have thought that they would be talking about better ways to provide medical care, cutting edge technologies, funding operating room stories. For some reason, they're talking about TAXES. Of course, this is just a symptom of the problem of ever-increasing size of federal government. The federal government should not be meddling with medicine. If that were the case, the AMA could spend more of its time working on medicine, because healthcare would be so affordable, everyone could enjoy its benefits.
A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Is Cause for Concern
3/12/06 New York Times
A most interesting article. In it, we see the usual, people who did not invent, manufacture, or buy the rights to various medicines, somehow feel they should have a say on what the price of a given medicine should be. This reporter almost regretfully writes:
And once a company sets a price, government agencies, private insurers and patients have little choice but to pay it. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate prices, and Medicare is banned from considering price in deciding whether to cover treatments.
Medicare is banned from considering price in deciding whether to cover treatments? So, if you invent a new drug or treatment that is better than anything else out there, the government is practically ordering you to raise the price of it - because they will pay it. And we wonder why Medicare costs are soaring out of control... More interesting findings:
While private insurers can negotiate prices, they have limited leeway
to exclude drugs from coverage based on price, said C. Lee Blansett, a partner at DaVinci Healthcare
Partners, which works with drug makers on pricing and marketing.
"Price is simply not included in whether or not to cover a drug," Mr. Blansett said.
I wonder why this is? Could it be because government regulates, mandates, and meddles with, private insurance? I don't know the exact details, but I know that by law, if you're offering health insurance you have to cover X, Y, and Z etc.. and the federal/state code is probably hundreds of pages long. I'd be interested in finding more info about this.
The point is that here in the United States we do not have a free market system. Both Public and Private providers are, via government coercion, effectively prevented from working to limit costs - yet our friends on the left blame the pharmaceutical companies for soaring prices. 'Big Pharma' is merely following the 'unintended' incentives put in place by the innate incompetence always found in expansive government.
I just realized that I hadn't previously posted an interesting article that debunks the myth of the 'horrible' infant mortality rates here in the United States. Statistics always deserve further investigation, especially 'fishy' ones propogated by the media.
Cuba vs. the United States on Infant Mortality
Recently released statistics on the infant mortality rate in the Western hemisphere yielded an odd conclusions -- Cuba's infant mortality rate, 16 6.0 per 1,000, is now lower than the U.S. infant mortality rate, at 7.2 per 1,000. Given Cuba's poverty level, its 6.0 rate is very impressive, but is it accurate to say that Cuba now has an infant mortality rate lower than the United States? No.
The primary reason Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States is that the United States is a world leader in an odd category -- the percentage of infants who die on their birthday. In any given year in the United States anywhere from 30-40 percent of infants die before they are even a day old.
Why? Because the United States also easily has the most intensive system of emergency intervention to keep low birth weight and premature infants alive in the world. The United States is, for example, one of only a handful countries that keeps detailed statistics on early fetal mortality -- the survival rate of infants who are born as early as the 20th week of gestation.
How does this skew the statistics? Because in the United States if an infant is born weighing only 400 grams and not breathing, a doctor will likely spend lot of time and money trying to revive that infant. If the infant does not survive -- and the mortality rate for such infants is in excess of 50 percent -- that sequence of events will be recorded as a live birth and then a death.
In many countries, however, (including many European countries) such severe medical intervention would not be attempted and, moreover, regardless of whether or not it was, this would be recorded as a fetal death rather than a live birth. That unfortunate infant would never show up in infant mortality statistics.
So, in effect, by having among the best prenatal care in the world, we raise our infant mortality rate. This means that infant mortality rates, as commonly measured, are a useless statistic. However, this will not stop liberals in favor of national health care using this statistic and it will not stop the agenda driven media from mentioning it whenever they get the chance. Educate them.
A Health Threat We're Not treating / Don't Let Doctors Rig the Market for Specialty Hospitals
11/12/05 Washington Post An article by Newt Gingrich that fails to see that the problems he is identifying only exist because of socialism present in the health care system. An example of a 'Secondary Problem of Socialism'.
Online Flu Sales Soar
10/20/05 Denver Post Internet sales of antiviral drugs at some online pharmacies are up by 1,000 percent or more this year, and health officials, who suspect the trend is related to fear of a flu pandemic, are calling the practice of hoarding both unethical and dangerous. Government causes the flu vaccine shortage (see 10/23 post below) and then calls it 'unethical' when people find ways around government imposed barriers? This sort of demand, and accompanying high prices will be great incentive for companies to increase production of flu drugs and vaccines, incentives that government has taken away. Ready for the money quote?
"I understand there are people who have lost faith in the government's ability to protect them," Huitt said, "but this (hoarding) is not prudent." LOL!
Political Virus / Why there's only one drug to fight avian flu.
10/22/05 Wall Street Journal Editorial Excellent Editorial! In the name of helping the 'poor' and 'less fortunate' government destroys the benefits for everyone (including the 'poor' and 'less fortunate'). You won't see these points covered in any main stream media article or television show. This is why Conservative/Libertarians believe there is bias in the media. I urge you to read their editorial in full.
In a similar vein, here is an previously posted story from the BBC:
GSK Aims to stop Aids Profiteers
For a more political angle (as customary on this site :) ) of Allopathic, Osteopathic, and medicine in general:
For the first 100+ years of US history the government didn't 'meddle' in health care licensing and regulation. However, as government assumed more power, eventually Allopathic Doctors were the only ones licensed to do certain kinds of procedures and government (state and federal) passed overarching regulations and restrictions designed to keep Osteopaths and other troublesome groups (Midwives etc..) out of the Allopathic 'territory' (mob and gang pun intended). Basically, the M.D.s resorted to using government for their profit, to prevent people from making their own health care choices. The M.D.s donated heavily to politicians who passed these laws in the name of 'public safety' or 'the children' yadda yadda... With a government granted monopoly, the M.D.s, naturally, restricted their members and thus raised their salaries. This pattern is repeated throughout society and history (for another example covered on this site read about social workers).
In the late 1800s/early 1900s, Osteopathy was legalized in most states, or the legislatures included it as being 'legal' in their newfound ability to legislate medical standards. I ran across a brief history of this, though the eyes of Mark Twain, called, 'The Pre-Flexnerian Report: Mark Twain's criticism of Medicine in the United States' in the Annals of Internal Medicine
In 1901, he [Mark Twain] told the Committee on Public Health of the New York General Assembly that "I don't know as I cared much about these osteopaths until I heard you were going to drive them out of the state, but since I heard that I haven's been able to sleep."
"Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least, I have always so regarded it. If I do it harm through my experimenting it is I who suffer, not the state. And if I indulge in dangerous experiments the state don't die. I attend to that."
"So I want liberty to do as I choose with my physical body...."
Of course, since Twain does not have the freedom to do what he wants with his own physical body, we must assume that government believes it owns at least a portion of it (or maybe it rents or leases a portion of his body to him...). Today he would have even less freedom than he had back in 1901. However, I do not mean to limit my criticism towards the A.M.A. (American Medical Association, which represented the M.D.s). The Osteopaths have since joined the Allopaths in lobbying to keep everyone else out of the 'doctors business'. D.O.s and M.D.s are the only people that can legally treat illness, operate, prescribe medicines etc... (we'll return to this later). The problem was not the M.Ds, the problem was that government had (and has) the power to give groups a monopoly on a needed service.
The Doctor Glut Revisited
Feb 2001 PostGraduate Medicine More evidence of Doctors attempting to limit their numbers in order to raise their salaries:
Of its [Pew Health Professionals Commission] recommendations, three were key:
Shut down enough medical schools to trim at least 20% of first-year slots by 2005
Limit the number of residency positions to the number of US medical school graduates plus 10%
Tighten visa restrictions on IMGs to encourage them to return to their native lands
Response to the Pew report came from several fronts, including formal replies from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Both organizations agreed with the premise that the United States was headed toward a serious oversupply of physicians, but they differed in their solutions to the problem.
Recent recommendations from the AMA propose limiting the number of medical school graduates to match the class of 1997 (1). That year, 17,907 medical students graduated from US schools and 24,516 physicians filled first-year residency slots--a number equivalent to 137% of graduates. US graduates filled 74% of those slots and IMGs the remaining 26%. The AMA also is recommending that entry-level resident slots be gradually cut to 120% of the number of 1997 graduates. Such a reduction would cut about 3,000 positions.
The author concludes:
Efforts to limit numbers of physicians and their specialties must continue to receive careful consideration and critical review and to be amenable to changes in the nation's healthcare systems.
Why is the AMA, AAMC, AAFP, Pew Health Professionals Commission, and our government so worried about all of this? Obviously, no one can predict the number of physicians that will be 'needed'. Personally, I am a bit more worried about how many bureaucrats, commissioners, and politicians there are in government! Seems there are quite a few more than are 'needed'.
How many physicians there will be and how much they will be paid should be determined by the market, not by interest groups and certainly not by government. If too many people decide to become doctors then doctor's wages will fall - good for patients and too bad for doctors! If too few people decide to become docs then the salaries of docs will go up until more people choose to go into the field because of the higher salaries. Irregardless, market forces should choose the 'right' number of physicians and these physicians should be paid according to the value attributed to them by their customers - the public.
What is the Constitutional provision that government uses to justify all of these laws, regulations and meddlings? I'd guess there is none, but no one has been curious enough to ask them. Just like no one questioned the thievery of our tax money used to insult US citizens, including the President, with how fat we are.
N.Y. Audit Shows Sex Offenders Get Viagra
5/23/05 Associated Press Added to 'Government Health'. Just like senior citizens are ripping the populace off to get Viagra (previous post), so are sex offenders. Scores of convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in New York have been getting Viagra paid by Medicaid for the last five years, the state's comptroller said Sunday. Audits by Comptroller Alan Hevesi's office showed that between January 2000 and March 2005, 198 sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions. Those included crimes against children as young as 2 years old, he said. The two Democratic New York Senators, who traditionally seem to favor expanding government whenever possible, were most concerned. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement that it was "deeply disturbing and runs contrary to the purpose of Medicaid, which is to provide health care coverage for uninsured, low-income individuals." <.> "While I believe that HHS did not do this intentionally, when the government pays for Viagra for sex offenders, it could well hurt many innocent people," he (Schumer) said. Again, they focus on intentions. The truth is that this is one of many problems that naturally stem from any socialistic government program. All of these various government programs, "could well hurt innocent people". In fact, they do.
More churches entering field of healthcare (posted 4/26/05)
4/25/05 Christian Science Monitor Elaborating on the post below, here is a solution to help those who are having trouble affording healthcare. It has treated tens of thousands of working people without health coverage in Memphis, one of the nation's poorest big cities. They are employed by businesses that don't offer health benefits or that hire part-time workers who can't afford health-plan premiums. The clinic is funded by various organizations, including churches and business foundations. In its eight years, the training has spawned at least 25 other clinics nationwide. Church Health Center accepts no government funds. It also offers a low-cost health plan to small businesses and the self-employed. The clinic's 80,000-square-foot wellness center opened in 1996 after clinic doctors found that two-thirds of their patients had been diagnosed with illnesses considered preventable. How many people who don't have healthcare are treated at places such as this? Notice the creation of a wellness center, something that is undoubtedly a great benefit for patients and cuts costs. Government programs, unwieldy top down behemoths, could never be this flexible. Contrary to (see the post above) what the hidden liberal Uwe Reinhardt says in his PBS interviews, the pharmaceutical industry could have avoided being "the scapegoat for all kinds of problems in health spending" if it had been proactive in assisting low-income recipients. This story says: The patients' medicines are donated by drug companies and others. So, contrary to the premises of those promoting massive confiscations of other people's money for massive wasteful, corrupt, inefficient government sponsored health programs, it looks like the American people are not greedy and cold hearted and are actually competent enough to assist those who are less fortunate. It's actually pretty amazing considering the levels of taxation they are subject to.
Number of Uninsured May Be Overstated, Studies Suggest (Posted 4/26/05)
Los Angeles Times Well, it turns out, just like the oft mentioned 'obesity
panic' the government is having a conniption over, that government may have overestimated the
number of uninsured Americans by as much as 20%, according to research
conducted for the government.
That could mean 9 million fewer uninsured, reducing the total to 36 million from the 45 million reported for 2003, the latest year for which data are available. But in fact even this might be too high as the article later states: Four government surveys attempt to estimate the number of Americans who are without coverage for a full year, a potentially harmful gap. The results range from a high of 45 million in the Current Population Survey to a low of 19 million in the less-known Survey of Income and Program Participation, also by the Census Bureau. Why don't they give us the numbers for all four studies and why couldn't the last figure be correct? [Another] estimate [not the 19 million one], using 2001 data, was calculated by researchers at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. It indicated a smaller over-count of about 4 million. <.> "Whatever method one applies, we're still going to get rising uninsurance," said Linda Giannarelli of the Urban Institute. "This problem is not going to go away." The Urban Institute is NOT a nonpartisan think tank! The Urban Institute is the same institution that claimed 2.6 million people, 1.1 million of them children were going to be flung into poverty by Welfare Reform, when in fact the exact opposite happened. How quickly critics may pounce on anything suggesting insensitivity on the coverage issue was illustrated by the reaction of a prominent economist. Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University, a specialist on healthcare issues, said the administration's decision to commission the research showed that it was worrying more about counting the uninsured than about helping them. "I call it the body count," Reinhardt said. "Instead of addressing the problem, we say we must count the uninsured. It is literally, in my view, like making sure we know how many deck chairs we have on the Titanic." Nonetheless, Reinhardt said, he agreed that the figure of 45 million might be high. If Uwe Reinhardt applied the same logic he uses to advocate spending your money on government programs to his private finances at his own house, he would blindly buy carpets and paint without first measuring the surface area of the floor or walls. Who is Uwe Reinhardt, this so-called 'prominent economist' and 'healthcare specialist' ? (sigh) It really gets sort of tiring exposing the blatant bias in the media because after a while you already know what your going to find, but still have to go through the empty steps of finding it. PBS showcased two different extensive interviews (a sign in itself) with Reinhardt, which tells us all we need to know: He argues that a prescription drug benefit should be targeted not strictly towards seniors, but towards the poor and poor seniors. <.> Reinhardt says that the pharmaceutical industry could have avoided being "the scapegoat for all kinds of problems in health spending" if it had been proactive in assisting low-income recipients. Notice the standard Democratic lines of proposing massive government expansion and the demaguaging of the wealth generating, job creating, and life saving Pharmaceutical companies.
The LA times story continues: Democrats have criticized Bush for not doing enough to stanch the loss of employee health benefits. This is interesting considering that employers are increasingly being tempted to shift their employees to the various state and federal health plans that the Democrats have been instrumental in creating. (see charts and previous post for more on this). If government would stop robbing people to create all of these programs then people and businesses would have more money to voluntarily give to programs that work like this one. Reflecting the political sensitivity of the issue, the White House said President Bush was determined to expand coverage, regardless of the precise number of uninsured. Like Uwe Reinhardt, I guess the President wouldn't pre-measure the surface area of his walls or floors either. Or perhaps the taxpayers pay for those too. As Benjamin Franklin said: The king's cheese is half wasted in parings; but no matter, 'tis made of the people's milk.
To further expand on the 'Viagra Covered by Medicare' post above and illustrate how government programs such as Medicaid (and other 'means-tested'/welfare type programs) fail and create an underclass of poverty and destitution I've created two hypothetical charts (no real data used). Contrasting these charts simulates how businesses will change their hiring, including more part time jobs and jobs with lower pay to take advantage of the money government steals from all the taxpayers to pay for lower income workers' healthcare (currently only poor single women and their children are eligible nationally for free health care, but some states have created even more generous programs (Tenn) and there are a host of other overlapping programs [community health centers] and expansionist proposals to cover even more lower income people are always being pushed). Lower income workers and families are eligible for a whole range of benefits (again robbed from all taxpayers) besides healthcare, so the effect of this is considerably amplified. In fact, workers themselves will be hesitant to earn enough to attempt to break out of this 'government sponsored comfort zone', (better described as 'government sponsored poverty zone'). One can't blame these workers, by working more hours or accepting that 'pay raise' at work they might actually take a 'pay cut' at home and, in the case of healthcare, businesses paying a small 'pay raise' might get hit with thousands extra dollars per year in health insurance costs! These charts assume that only workers and families making less then $20,000 are eligible to receive funds looted from all Americans for healthcare.
Of course, the conclusion of this analysis is that instead of government wasting their ill-gotten loot paying people not to work and business not to hire, if the money was returned to the actual people that earned it in the first place (after all it is their money), then it would be spent productively, leading to increased hiring, higher wages, and more economic growth and even more stolen money (whoops, I mean taxes) :) for the government.
Viagra Covered by Medicare (Update 4/12/05)
2/1/2005 Los Angeles Times article describing how YOUR tax money is being spent on Viagra for frisky senior citizens. This Bush boondoggle barely passed the 'Republican' controlled house with a 10 year price tag of $400 billion. However, since passage of the bill, estimates have since been raised to $500+ billion, $700+ billion, and even an upward estimate of $1.2+ trillion. And the vast majority of this money hasn't even been spent yet, the bill doesn't kick in until 2006! This is another example of atrocious governmental incompetence, underhanded government thievery, or some combination thereof. One might think that after this debacle the 'Conservatives' in Congress would watch their step. However, the American people didn't fuss all that much, and although many Democrats at least voted against the bill.... most did so claiming that it wasn't big enough! So, next Bush Pledges for Wider Health Coverage, promising an additional $10 billion on top of the bloated $140 billion already ripped off taxpayers in an attempt to cover uninsured Americans. However, states worry that they may feel more of a financial crunch as [Health and Human Services Secretary Michael] Leavitt promised a crackdown on wasteful spending that he expects will save nearly $60 billion over the next 10 years. That includes saving $40 billion by eliminating certain loopholes and accounting practices that states use to obtain federal match money. If this is true then why promise $10 billion more? So Administration officials can spin an increase when there is really a reduction in Federal funds? Why not be proud of reducing a hurtful program?
Why is it a hurtful program? Besides unconstitutionally forcing (robbing) some people to pay for the health insurance of others, private businesses are placing their employees on the government health rolls to avoid paying increasingly expensive health insurance. Recall the Pine Wood Indian Reservation (where there were no private food stores because multiple government run stores offered free food)? The more the government health care system grows, the more the more efficient private sector insurance will shrink. Democrats, who generally favor policies whereby citizens are thrown in jail if they refuse to pay the taxes that pay for the healthcare of all Americans, are aghast when they find out that businesses are using their failed policies to generate more profits. Thus, they pass laws like this one in Maryland stating that: Under the Fair Share Health Care Fund Act, for-profit companies with 10,000 or more workers would pay a levy to the state if they failed to spend 8 percent of their payroll costs on health care. These policies, intending to fix the problem of government largeness by, ironically, expanding government, will have the effect of: 1. Encouraging people not to work too much, and employers not to pay too much for fear of loosing health benefits (if one earns over a certain amount state coverage gets taken away; in other words incentivising part-time work), or 2. Lead to higher unemployment as large companies either transfer out of the area or lay off workers they now can't afford to keep, or 3. Lead to a proliferation of smaller more inefficient companies that can still put their employees on the taxpayer dole (in fact, as you might guess, the main proponents of this bill were smaller companies who bribed the state legislators). All of this hurtful meddling that encourages market inefficiencies will lower tax revenues and hurt the economic growth of the state leading to (gasp!) less money to waste on health care and more poor people without health insurance! Sounds like what happened during the 1970s failed 'War on Poverty'. Thus, continuing this logic, the only solution is further expansion of the health care system, further government regulations, and further raising of taxes, until, as Adam Smith said: As soon as government management begins it upsets the natural equilibrium of industrial relations, and each interference only requires further bureaucratic control until the end is the tyranny of the totalitarian state.
For those interested, here is some added commentary on the new 'Food Pyramid'.
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