False Teachers Promote Single-Payer Healthcare

 

In this Easter season, it appears that Single-Payer healthcare is rising from the dead.

Sally Pipes, writing in Forbes, warns that false teachers are spreading the gospel of single-payer healthcare and the uninformed public is listening. Chief among these false teachers is single-payer evangelist and senator Bernie Sanders (D –VT). Though Sanders failed to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, he has apparently won over all the prominent Democratic candidates for the next election.

Congressional Democrats are getting on board, too. Sanders’ Medicare For All bill introduced in 2013 didn’t garner a single supporter. Today one in three Democrats in the Senate and sixty percent of House Democrats support a similar bill.

New research from the left-wing think tank Data For Progress claims a majority of voters in 42 states now favor single-payer. Even if this research is bias, it does reflect a disturbing trend. The same research from only last September showed fewer than half of Americans supported single-payer.

False teachers always makes false claims to convince others of the virtues of their ideas. Sanders and his minions are no different. They preach universal coverage and high-quality care – two things they can’t deliver. But it is an appealing claim for those on the outside looking in at our current healthcare system.

Alas, the public is ignorant, and that makes for fertile soil when trying to grow support for this healthcare change. But Americans need look no farther than their northern border, Canada, to see the problems of single-payer healthcare.

Pipes, a native of Canada, is very familiar with the evils of single-payer healthcare. Like all single-payer systems, Canada rations care to control costs. She says this rationing can occur in one of two ways:

  • Nationalizing hospitals and clinics
  • Low reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals

 

Nationalizing Hospitals and Clinics

This is the system in Great Britain. The National Health Service (NHS) holds down costs by hiring a limited number of doctors and building relatively few hospitals. Shortages and delays are so bad in Great Britain that the British Red Cross last year warned the system was experiencing a “humanitarian crisis.”

Pipes says, “Amid chronic overcrowding during this winter’s flu season, NHS doctors were forced to treat over 100 patients a day in hospital hallways due to a lack of beds. Thousands of patients waited in ambulances for an hour or more before receiving care. Only one in three British patients is satisfied with the NHS, according to a recent poll.”

Low Reimbursement Rates

This is the system in Canada. The government sets such low reimbursements that the country suffers from a chronic, and worsening, shortage of doctors. Last year, the typical Canadian patient waited 21 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist after obtaining a referral from a general practitioner.

A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found one in three Canadians 65 or older is dissatisfied with the quality of care. The study compared 11 developed countries and found that Canada ranks dead last on patient satisfaction scores. Wait lists are so long that many patients leave Canada to seek care abroad, even though they have to pay for treatments out of pocket. In 2017, an estimated 63,000 Canadians sought medical treatment in another country.

The facts on single-payer healthcare are well known to anyone who has studied the experiences of other countries such as Canada, Great Britain, or Sweden. The consistent and inevitable result will be the following:

  • Increased waiting times for diagnostic testing and treatment
  • Delayed or denied surgical procedures
  • Massive tax increases

 

Beware the false teachers who would try to convince you otherwise!

 

(For more on single-payer healthcare and socialized medicine, see the following posts: Single-Payer Advocates Distort the Truth, Single-Payer v. Market-Driven Healthcare, Single-Payer Wastes Money and Time (Parts I-V), or read my book, The ObamaCare Reality.)

 

Two ObamaCare Myths Exposed

 

President Obama made many promises when he promoted ObamaCare. Most of those promises have been broken. Add two more to the list.

Broken Promises

In my 2014 book The ObamaCare Train Wreck, I chronicled the many broken promises of President Obama. They included:

  • Universal Coverage
  • No New Taxes on the Middle Class
  • Annual Premium Savings of $2500 per family
  • No Increase in the Federal Deficit
  • “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
  • “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
  • Bending the Cost Curve
  • No Impact on Medicare

 

We know what works,” then-President Barack Obama said at the Global Center for Health Innovation in 2015. “We know what we have to do. We’ve just got to put aside the stale and outmoded debates. Reject failed policies. Embrace the policies that we know work. Embrace the promise of the future.”

The Washington Examiner now reports that two new studies show healthcare is more complicated than Obama claimed. The first study, from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concerns electronic health records (EHRs).The 2009 stimulus bill supported them and then ObamaCare made them mandatory for Medicare providers.

A RAND Corporation study in 2009 estimated electronic records would save $81 Billion a year and also improve patient care. The JAMA study, however, shows that reality has been quite different. Administrative costs have increased at the same pace as was forecast if EHRs were not used. Instead of decreasing workload, as was expected, this government mandate has increased work for doctor’s offices and hospitals and contributed to physician burnout.

The second study addressed the issue of medical expenses and their impact on bankruptcies. Senator Elizabeth Warren, during her academic days at Harvard, promoted research that suggested half of all bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses. This became a regular Democratic talking point in the days before passage of ObamaCare. President Obama liked to reframe the argument by saying, “Healthcare causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds.” Not to be outdone, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) said, “Realistically, it is about 70 percent of the people who file for bankruptcy, file for healthcare costs.”

But now The New England Journal of Medicine says the real number is only about 4 percent. Among those lacking insurance it is a mere 6 percent. This journal is among the most respected medical journals in the world.

The Washington Examiner says, “It’s worth noting that bankruptcies have dwindled significantly from their recessionary highs, and Obamacare fans try to attribute this to the law’s benign effects. Sadly for their argument, most of the drop since 2010 occurred before Obamacare took effect in 2014. The numbers of bankruptcies for 2015, 2016, and 2017, around 750,000 annually, are on par with the numbers from 2006 and 2007, the two years between federal bankruptcy reform and the recession.”

March 23, 2018 marked the eighth anniversary of the passage of ObamaCare. This train wreck just keeps getting worse the more you look at it.

Should There Be a “Right-to-Try” For Terminal Diseases?

 

If you’re dying should you have a right to try unproven medical treatments? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long taken the position that only they are qualified to make that decision for you.

Senator Ron Johnson (R – WI) introduced a bill in the Senate last August that would give people that right for the first time. The bill had 46 co-sponsors and passed by unanimous consent. When was the last time the Senate did anything with unanimous consent?

Yet, last week the House bill on this same issue failed when they tried to pass it as a “suspension procedure” that requires a two-thirds majority. The vote was 259 approved and 140 opposed (65% approval).

The bill effectively says if a very ill patient wants to roll the dice on a drug that has not been declared effective by the FDA, the government will not interfere. The drug must have cleared Phase I trials for safety.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board considers this political malpractice. They cite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden for their disapproval. Walden narrowed eligibility criteria after the Johnson bill defined it as anyone with a “life-threatening” condition who has exhausted all other options.

What are the arguments of those who oppose this bill? It’s difficult to fathom why anyone would oppose such a measure, especially when the drug has already passed safety trials. Opponents of right-to-try tend to cite FDA’s “compassionate use” program that grants nearly all petitions for a physician to treat a patient with an unapproved therapy. Nothing in the bill prevents physicians from following this path if they desire.

But the bill also is a hedge against a future FDA that might turn hostile to patient choice. This could easily happen if single-payer healthcare becomes a reality as Democrats envision. Cost controls and government exclusions of treatments they consider “not worth the money” are common in single-payer systems in other countries like Canada and Great Britain.

It’s hard to believe a bill that passed through the Senate by unanimous consent could have real difficulty getting through the House. But such is our current culture in Congress. Democrats in the House opposed the bill the first time and may see it now as a wedge issue to demand concessions Republicans may refuse to give. If it is altered to overcome these concessions, it will have to be approved again in the Senate where there may be new opposition. Much better for the House to simply approve the Johnson bill and send it straight to the President for his signature.

Any delay could be deadly for some who are waiting for approval of their new treatments.