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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

STATE OF THE UNION: HONEYED WORDS HERALD WORSE RATIONING AHEAD

Suppose a government official announced a plan to limit the automobiles you were allowed to buy, so that only the smallest and cheapest would be available. It is likely most Americans would oppose it. Announce a plan limiting what automobile manufacturers can charge you for cars, however, and it would sound appealing to many people. Yet both proposals would amount to the same plan. When the government imposes limits on what people can choose to spend for a product or service, it means that only those items that producers can afford to provide at or below the government limit will be available. Instead of letting consumers balance cost against benefit, and decide what they can afford to and want to spend their own money on, the government takes that choice away from them.

Now consider what President Obama said in his January 25, 2011 State of the Union speech about health care. He said his health care law “prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.” That certainly sounds good: no one wants patients to be “exploited.” But what does it mean? Obama considers it “exploiting” people when they are given the option of paying more to save the lives of their families, through the purchase of unrationed health insurance, than Obama thinks they should be allowed to choose to pay.

There is an old joke about a man being stopped by a thief who points a gun at him and says, “Your money or your life!” The man replies, “Take my life. I’m saving my money for my old age.”

It’s very foolish to pay less than you can afford for health insurance if that means you and your family will be stuck with a cheap “managed care” plan that will use “utilization review” and limited drug “formularies” to limit the treatment or drugs you may need to save your lives. It’s foolish to look only at the price without also considering the quality you will get for that price.

Americans balance quality and price all the time. Of course we look for the “better deal” that will save us money, but we also keep in mind that sometimes paying bottom dollar for shoddy merchandise is no bargain.

In the State of the Union speech, President Obama said of what people are allowed to spend on health care, “The health insurance law we passed last year will slow these rising costs.” And he called for “further reducing health care costs.”

What he didn’t mention was how the Obama health care law will “slow . . . rising costs.” It will do so in large part by forcing doctors and other health care providers to limit care, through “quality and efficiency” standards imposed on them that will establish one uniform national standard of care for what treatment may – and may not – be offered patients. Beginning in 2015, these “quality and efficiency” standards will be drawn from recommendations of an 18-member Independent Payment Advisory Board that is directed to come up with ways to limit what private citizens choose to pay, using their own funds and private insurance, so that they cannot keep up with the rate of medical inflation. (For details and documentation, see http://www.nrlc.org/HealthCareRationing/Index.html .)

If you’re not allowed to keep up with medical inflation, what do you think will happen to the quantity and quality of the health care you can get? It will go into a steady decline.

Yet Obama is not only pledged to veto any repeal of the health care rationing law– he is now threatening to seek unspecified (so far) measures that will limit the resources Americans are allowed to use to save their own lives still further.

Honeyed words – but words that mean one thing: worse and worse health care rationing ahead.

3 comments:

  1. Maybe you should read the bill. You clearly have no idea what it actually does. If you did, you might realize that it actually does quite the opposite of what you say.

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