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Thursday, April 7, 2011

So simple even I get it

I received an interesting email the other day asking, me to do a column on a specific subject. Since I usually get people throwing metaphorical rocks at my head, not "please write on this," I thought I would oblige.
The email had attached an opinion piece from a Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) which was published in the Wall Street Journal. I won't go into much detail about the piece which talked about the life-saving surgery his daughter received many years ago and which was quickly available because of our excellent medical system, but I will share a few observations from the column about the system which is under assault by what has been termed ObamaCare.
Now under ObamaCare you will be required to purchase health insurance whether you want to or not. If you don't you will be either fined or taxed by the Internal Revenue Service, depending on which definition the administration is using this week.
There were a few interesting nuggets in Johnson's piece I thought I would share:

"Since 1970, American doctors have won more Nobel Prizes for Medicine than all other countries combined. According to McKinsey and Co., thousands of foreigners come to the United States every year for medical care they cannot get at home—due to rationing or because it is simply not provided. And cutting-edge drugs to treat serious illnesses are more widely available in the U.S. than abroad.

Take cancer as one example. Compared to the U.S., breast cancer mortality is 9% higher in Canada (according to the government statistics of each country), 52% higher in Germany and 88% higher in the United Kingdom (according to studies published in Lancet Oncology). Prostate cancer mortality is 604% higher in Britain.

Those in need of timely care from specialists are better off in the U.S. Drawing on several peer-reviewed studies, Dr. Scott Atlas of the Stanford University Medical Center notes that patients who need knee and hip replacement, cataract surgery, and radiation treatment wait months longer in the United Kingdom and Canada than in the United States."
Keep in mind as well, this is the "reform" to the health care system which a federal judge in Florida found to be unconstitutional and struck down. U.S. District Judge Robert Vinson struck the law down and enjoined the administration from implementing it.
They proceeded to do it anyway. Granted this thing is going to end up in front of the Supreme Court, but the administration is ignoring a federal judge's order.
Even more interesting is the fact that despite being behind this federal take over of health care, various states and unions are now applying for waivers so they can keep the plans they already have.
A little research on the Internet to confirm the information I was given leads me to this: Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey and Maine have all been granted waivers and Kentucky, Nevada and New Hampshire waiting to be excused. Multiple unions, all of whom were behind the law in the first place have all applied for and received waivers as well. Those would include: The Service Employees Benefit Fund, United Food and Commercial Workers Allied Trade Health & Welfare Trust Fund, Transport Workers Union, United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (AFL-CIO) as well as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and many, many others.
Now let me ask this question: If the very people who told us we had to do this sweeping transformation of health care in this country, who pushed it down the throats of an American people who did not want it in the first place, are now getting waivers so they do not have to comply with the patently unconstitutional law, why should we?
Somewhere along the line someone should be able to figure out that adding huge layers of bureaucracy to anything is a bad idea.
Yes, there are issues with the health care system. Yes, costs are out of hand. However, there is a straight-line correlation between when costs started rising dramatically in the 1970s and when employers started offering comprehensive medical plans as employee benefits.
It's simple economics 101. So simple even an idiot journalist like me can understand it. When you subsidize something, in this case health care, you get more demand for it, but generally speaking you can't increase supply fast enough to keep up with demand.
That's what's happened in the nations with socialized medicine. Once health care became "free" (it's not, as the inestimable Robert A. Heinlein once pointed out "There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch,) the demand for health care far out-stripped the supply and rationing followed. Shortly thereafter quality dropped as well.
Do I have all the answers? No. I do know that returning the health care system to basic free-market principles would help. Introducing more competition into any system always has the beneficial effects of reducing costs, increasing choice and increasing quality.
Conversely, limiting competition always increases costs, limits choice and decreases quality as it removes any incentive to improve anything.
I hate to go all Glenn Beck, but it's impossible that the administration isn't aware of this reality. Which means they have other reasons for doing what they're doing. What those are I can only speculate about but nothing I come up with is good.
We have to continue to press our Representatives in Washington D.C. about this and make sure they repeal or at least defund this unconstitutional law. We simply can't depend on the Supreme Court to do the right thing.
All IMHO, of course.

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