Saturday, 1 August 2009

Obama Advisors Envision the End of US Health Care

I should say from the start that I have never been a fan of the US health care system. I have of course been fed with all the usual Liberal/European propaganda against it, and I am in no doubt that it is better than its reputation, but I still do not think it particularly charming to allocate patients to varying standards of treatment based on their income. Nor can I see anything cost-effective about spending time trying to determine what procedures a patient's insurance will cover.

Now in Denmark we have a deeply Socialist health care system which is taxpayer funded and covers all citizens. It is a principle set down in law that all persons must receive the same treatment based on no other consideration than their need. Naturally, people with higher mental and social resources know how to work the system better, but in principle there is equal access for every single citizen. When we see a patient needing surgery, we don't waste time wondering about which procedure is most affordable or cost-effective, we just refer them to what they need.

Such a system is naturally very costly, and Denmark cannot be said to be in the vanguard when it comes to pioneering treatments and medical technology. In due course, public health bombs such as obesity and the growing number of elderly might break the back of the system. The waiting lists for treatment are also in many cases prohibitively long. To salvage the system, I envision a two-track solution where those who can afford it may receive privately funded care at separate private hospitals while an equal access system remains in place for the majority of the populace.

In the US, in addition to the problems with the uninsured (the numbers of which have, though, been grossly overestimated) the costs of public health programs is skyrocketing (the US actually spends almost the same proportion of GDP on public health programs as Denmark). So President Obama is trying to reform the health care system - a worthy aim, to be sure, but the plans envisioned are of dubious quality. And some of the advice he is getting seems to not be entirely sound even according to normal Liberal principles. According to the NY Post, two of the President's close advisors on health care policy, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel and David Blumenthal, favour rationing health care by making doctors assign treatments based on government-issued guidelines for appropriate and cost-effective treatment. At least Dr. Emanuel openly argues that disabled and elderly persons should not receive treatment:
"He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia" (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96)."
Say what you will about the American health care system, but it undoubtedly does have the highest standards in the world. Not everyone may have access to the very best clinics, but it is a misconception that you have to be very wealthy to do so: taking out a second mortgage and loaning money from friends and relatives is possible for most people. If the government takes over the system, inefficiency and waiting lists will mount. Even then, what the system might lack in efficiency it might make up for in humanity as long as all patients are treated equally. What Obama's advisors are envisioning is, meanwhile, not a 'nanny state' solution but rather an 'evil stepmother state' solution where patients are viewed as inferior and undeserving of help if they are not good, productive citizens. It is totalitarian to the core, and unabashedly so.

Of course, it is not the first time that media outside the mainstream have exposed strong totalitarian sentiments among Pres. Obama's advisors. One has to wonder why he surrounds himself with people who hold such despicable views - and why the mainstream media couldn't care less.

(Via the Cube)

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