Monday 20 April 2009

GOP lies about health care

First let's look at just a few of the reasons why our current health care system is broken:

Cost: America’s health care “system” – chaos is a better word for it – costs more than that of any other country, both per head ($7400 per person in 2007) and as a percentage of GDP. Costs are rising much faster than wages or inflation. It is killing American families: family premiums have doubled in a decade, and half of US bankruptcies involve medical bills. Taxpayers pay not only for themselves but also another $15 billion for the uninsured; also, like Europe and Japan, American taxpayers will soon be paying for a gigantic elderly population. It is also crushing the states with unfunded federal mandates such as emergency services and Medicaid. Our Medicare commitments are not sustainable. The need to seek profits for corporate shareholders is driving costs up even further.

Check out -- page three shows comparative health costs.

Inefficiency: Even Kaiser Permanente chief George Halvorson admitted that the current system is inefficient and wasteful to the point of being dangerous. Tons and tons of waste. The way doctors and hospitals deliver care is ridiculously expensive. Thousands die from preventable mistakes. Multiple doctors duplicate tests, treatments and drugs. Lab tests are lost and must be repeated. Doctors don’t monitor chronic illness so more people end up in the hospital. The administrative costs in the U.S. are way above the rest of the industrialized world at 24 percent of the total health care bill. The free market impels doctors to provide unnecessary services, HMO’s give them a guaranteed market regardless of how poorly they perform, and they set rates above market value in an oligopolistic manner, particularly among specialists. As a result our system under-performs at life expectancy, infant mortality, quality, efficiency, access, safety, equity and wait times.

Incomplete coverage: America is the only wealthy industrialized nation that doesn’t provide universal health care. Our uninsured come to 40-50 million; that includes one third of all working Americans. The current recession will add 2 million unemployed to the list. Fewer employers offer coverage. And that’s before we get to the under-insured, struggling with their finances because of medical bills; they skip health care, skip prescriptions, and then things just go south from there. High unemployment and a lack of universal health care are simply not a sustainable combination.

And now let's walk through all the lies you will hear from the insurers and their paid hoors, the Republicans.

It’s socialism, anything tax-funded is armed robbery, it will turn out just like Stalin’s planned-economy disasters of the 1930s, the free market must rule! ...Sorry, the free market has had its chance, it failed miserably. And all this hollering about socialism is silly: the Europeans are doing it the public-sector way and are beating our numbers by 2 to 1.

Big Brother is coming! The Big Bad Government will apply so much oversight that they will destroy doctor-patient privacy (nonsense), they will decide whether my doctor will be allowed to do what he thinks best (HMO’s do that but Obama won’t), and they won’t let people opt out of the system and buy what they want (nonsense – Obama will let you keep your current plan).

The horrors that will ensue – the system will be overused and abused, quality will go down, care will be rationed, people will die! ...Nonsense.

It’s such a huge change! ...Nonsense. Everybody who likes their current coverage can keep it. And about half our current coverage already comes from federal and local taxes and subsidies anyway; government already insures more than a quarter of us already.

It’s not perfect, there might still be some unequal access! ....And? So what? We must stick with a terrible system because the alternative isn’t perfect?

They’re getting rid of a perfectly adequate system that its customers like! ....The problem is the 40-50 million who are not customers, and even more are under-insured. And it’s not adequate, either. It’s incredibly inefficient. The notion that we have the best health care in the world is a complete myth: life expectancy, infant mortality, smoking, obesity, the works.

The current free-market system is actually inefficient because of excessive government regulation, and a government-run plan must, of necessity, be more inefficient that a free-market plan!...Why? What’s the difference between a government bureaucrat and an insurance bureaucrat? And who says the market is always more efficient than government? Government can carry a document across the country for half a buck – can FedEx do that? Some anti-reform people claim that excessive regulation stopped doctors from making house calls, which is also nonsense – the UK has house calls more than we do.

Costs will skyrocket, we can’t afford it right now!....Nonsense. Again, Europe uses systems like the Obama plan and they pay half what we do in health costs, because they don’t have corrupt insurers stealing half the money.

As soon as government gets involved, all innovation on drugs, treatments and technology will stop, of course?....Nonsense. Why would innovation stop? It’s still a free market, and good products and services will still sell.

Look at the examples in Medicare, England and Canada!...Nonsense. Opponents of reform constantly stack the deck by picking on the systems which are most feared (i.e. misunderstood) in the U.S., and ignoring all the others. Even then they have to make stuff up – British patients allegedly denied life-saving dialysis, Medicare spending about $100 million on products ordered by dead doctors...nonsense. The facts are: All these foreign countries who use and enjoy universal health care are democracies: if their government-run systems stunk, the voters would make heads roll on election day. Canadians, to cite one example, are quite satisfied with their coverage. And in fact a recent survey tested sick adults in six nations and found that it was the Americans who had trouble getting a same-day or next-day appointment 47 percent of the time, worse than all but one country.

**UPDATE** -- We already know that the Republicans will pull out all the stops to block Obama's health care plan. One part of their effort is obstructing Al Franken's arrival in the Senate, which will get the Dems to 59 seats. Another effort: blocking Kathy Sebelius' nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services. But how serious can they be, if the effort is being led by Sarah Palin?? Hat tip to the HuffPo:

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