Monday, July 20, 2009

Read my lips?

The President is fast becoming the poster child for "How can you tell a politician is lying?" In his speech July 20, 2009 on health care I was wondering what country he was talking about. It was certainly no country with which I was familiar. Here is a sampling of what was said "We spoke about the amount of time and money wasted on insurance-driven bureaucracy. We spoke about the growing number of Americans who are uninsured and underinsured. We spoke about what's wrong with a system where women can't always afford maternity care and parents can't afford checkups for their kids, and end up seeking treatment in emergency rooms like the ones here at Children's. We spoke about the fact that it's very hard even for families who have health insurance to access primary care physicians and pediatricians. In a city like Washington, D.C., you've got all the doctors in one half of the city, very few doctors in the other half of the city. And part of that has to do with just the manner in which reimbursement is taking place and the disincentives for doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants in caring for those who are most in need." "Now, we've talked this problem to death, year after year. But unless we act -- and act now -- none of this will change. Just a quick statistic I heard about this hospital: Just a few years ago, there were approximately 50,000 people coming into the emergency room. Now they've got 85,000. There's been almost a doubling of emergency room care in a relatively short span of time, which is putting enormous strains on the system as a whole. That's the status quo, and it's only going to get worse." I thought for a moment he was talking about the doctor "shortage" in Canada where there are few doctors and dentists in rural areas. Or maybe he was talking about emergency room usage in Massachusetts going up after institution mandatory statewide health care. Or maybe he was talking about the administrative waste in medicare where the cost per patient is 25 percent higher than under private plans. What about cost containment? Would someone please tell me how the federal government is supposed to contain the cost of health care? Lets look at medicare and medicaid. Medicare's growth in spending is outpacing its revenue growth and its spending is expected to double in the next 25 years. We all have seen the projects that the Medicare Trust fund will run out of money by 2025. Medicaid, an open ended entitlement with no defined limit on beneficiaries or costs, is projected to grow at an annual rate of 7.9 percent by 2017 almost double the projected growth in the economy. One study finds that Medicaid has encouraged overutilization of health care resources without real evidence of improving health of the poor. Lastly, overutilization of emergency rooms is given as one of the country's major problems because the uninsured are forced to seek medical care there. Well a study of ER use in Massachusetts is an eyeopener. If finds that "non-urgent — use of the Emergency Room was not limited to uninsured populations. It showed up across the board. People covered by private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare were just as likely to use the ER for non-urgent care as people without health insurance. About 20% of all ER visits by privately insured and Medicare patients were for non-urgent purposes. About 24% of all ER visits by Medicaid beneficiaries and people without any insurance were for non-urgent purposes.
Second, another 25% of all ER visits for each group were for primary care treatable/preventable maladies. In other words, almost half of all ER visits were either for conditions that could have waited at least 24 hours to be addressed, or could have been solved in a doctor’s office."

What all of this means is that the President is trying to manufacture a crisis in order to ram through his health care takeover. Never mind that the Federal government has failed at containing costs of its health care programs. Never mind that the problem of ER use will not go away. Never mind that the proposed solutions are no solutions at all. I think the President really knows - just like the rest of us - that a national healthcare system will not improve health care, will not contain costs and will make all of us worse off. However, it will give the government control of one-sixth of GDP and control over the most vital aspect of our lives. So is it any wonder that he and the democrats are rushing this through at breakneck speed?

1 comment:

Catherine - Athens, TN said...

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