Sunday, August 16, 2009

Universal Healthcare BUT NOT Obamacare

John R. Houk
© August 16, 2009

I have pointed out I am one of those rare Conservatives that is in favor of Universal Healthcare. I must point out though I am not in favor of the Federal government being the direct manager of a National Universal Healthcare. My vision for Universal Healthcare leans more toward government regulation of mandatory health insurance provided by the free market private sector.

My dip into altruism is a plan of government oversight making sure insurance plans are affordable for the poor and not burdensome on small scale entrepreneurs. I can even see the government picking up some of the cost for those whose income precludes a budget of a monthly premium.

The point is Healthcare should be made readily available to all citizens and legal immigrants. It is a travesty that the wealthiest nation in the world does not offer easy access to the medical needs of people human beings. Picture the opposite of humanity. That picture is inhumanity.

Now that I have the Slanted Left salivating in glee and the Slanted Right planning my funeral, I need to provide a little clarification of my thinking.

Government managed socialized Universal Healthcare is a disastrous method to implement Universal Healthcare in America. I am noticing that President Obama’s Universal Healthcare cares less for the human being and more to the molding of a healthy society at the expense of those whose needs may not fit the government litmus test of providing life saving care for those who may die even with such care. Those diagnosed as terminal or a probability of terminal and the elderly Americans may be on the “let them die comfortably” list.

My fellow Americans allowing the government to manage this kind of power over a life should be considered horrific.

Much to my gratification one my favorite Republicans has weighed in on Obamacare. That person is Sarah Palin.

Israpundit has a quote from Sarah Palin’s August 7, 2009 entry on her Facebook page:

On August 7th, Sarah Palin wrote in her facebook page

    The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

That reference to death panels caused a storm of protest from Obama’s supporters and Palin haters. But it only took seven days for them to capitulate.

I don’t know if Sarah Palin coined the “death panel” phrase but the existence of such a concept in Universal Healthcare is inhumane and uncaring.

I am also delighted to read that some pundits writing in media that is not considered the so-called right wing fringe had this to say about Palin’s entrance into the Obamacare debate:

Palin Wins
If she's dim and Obama is brilliant, how did he lose the argument to her?

The first we heard about Sarah Palin's "death panels" comment was in a conversation last Friday with an acquaintance who was appalled by it. Our interlocutor is not a Democratic partisan but a high-minded centrist who deplores extremist rhetoric whatever the source. We don't even know if he has a position on ObamaCare. From his description, it sounded to us as though Palin really had gone too far.

A week later, it is clear that she has won the debate.

President Obama himself took the comments of the former governor of the 47th-largest state seriously enough to answer them directly in his so-called town-hall meeting Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H. As we noted Wednesday, he was callous rather than reassuring, speaking glibly--to audience laughter--about "pulling the plug on grandma."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Palin has won a legislative victory as well:

    A Senate panel has decided to scrap the part of its healthcare bill that in recent days has given rise to fears of government "death panels," with one lawmaker suggesting the proposal was just too confusing.

    The Senate Finance Committee is taking the idea of advance care planning consultations with doctors off the table as it works to craft its version of healthcare legislation, a Democratic committee aide said Thursday.

    Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the committee, said the panel dropped the idea because it could be "misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly." . . .

    The Palin claim about "death panels" was so widely discredited that the White House has begun openly quoting it in an effort to show that opponents of the healthcare overhaul are misinformed.

You have to love that last bit. The fearless, independent journalists of the Los Angeles Times justify their assertion that the Palin claim was "widely discredited" with an appeal to authority--the authority of the White House, which is to say, the other side in the debate. One suspects the breathtaking inadequacy of this argument would have been obvious to Times reporters Christi Parsons and Andrew Zajac if George W. Bush were still president. And of course this appears in a story about how the Senate was persuaded to act in accord with Palin's position--which doesn't prove that position right but does show that it is widely (though, to be sure, not universally) credited.

One can hardly deny that Palin's reference to "death panels" was inflammatory. But another way of putting that is that it was vivid and attention-getting. Level-headed liberal commentators who favor more government in health care, including Slate's Mickey Kaus and the Washington Post's Charles Lane, have argued that the end-of-life provision in the bill is problematic--acknowledging in effect (and, in Kaus's case, in so many words) that Palin had a point.

If you believe the media, Sarah Palin is a mediocre intellect, if even that, while President Obama is brilliant. So how did she manage to best him in this debate? Part of the explanation is that disdain for Palin reflects intellectual snobbery more than actual intellect. Still, Obama's critics, in contrast with Palin's, do not deny the president's intellectual aptitude. Intelligence, however, does not make one immune from hubris.

For a wonderful example of such hubris, check out this post from David Kurtz of

    Is there anything quite as unsettling as when the nation's political class (and I use that term broadly to encompass the occasionally political, like the tea partiers) turns its fleeting but intense focus to a new (for them) and complex topic, like end-of-life issues?

    It seems like years of painstaking work to nudge our death-denying culture toward a more frank and humane approach to our own mortality and dying could be erased by one misguided national discussion set off by none other than Sarah Palin.

Except that Palin didn't "set off" this discussion; President Obama did by trying to ram through legislation postalizing the medical system with no time for debate or reflection. How to care for dying patients is a serious, sensitive and complicated matter, one with which American families struggle every day. If you truly don't want the "political class" involved, your quarrel is with the man who is pushing for more federal involvement in this most personal of matters. It's entirely understandable that people would respond to such an effort by shouting, "Keep your laws off my grandma!" (James Taranto in Wall Street Journal)

There is an intellectual coup for Sarah Palin against the Obamassiah.

Ted Belman of Israpundit continues with another Palin Facebook entry:

Troubling Questions Remain About Obama’s Health Care Plan

I join millions of Americans in expressing appreciation for the Senate Finance Committee’s decision to remove the provision in the pending health care bill that authorizes end-of-life consultations (Section 1233 of HR 3200). It’s gratifying that the voice of the people is getting through to Congress; however, that provision was not the only disturbing detail in this legislation; it was just one of the more obvious ones.

As I noted in my statement last week, nationalized health care inevitably leads to rationing. There is simply no way to cover everyone and hold down the costs at the same time. The rationing system proposed by one of President Obama’s key health care advisors is particularly disturbing. I’m speaking of the “Complete Lives System” advocated by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the president’s chief of staff. President Obama has not yet stated any opposition to the “Complete Lives System,” a system which, if enacted, would refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled who have less economic potential. [1] Why the silence from the president on this aspect of his nationalization of health care? Does he agree with the “Complete Lives System”? If not, then why is Dr. Emanuel his policy advisor? What is he advising the president on? I just learned that Dr. Emanuel is now distancing himself from his own work and claiming that his “thinking has evolved” on the question of rationing care to benefit the strong and deny the weak. [2] How convenient that he disavowed his own work only after the nature of his scholarship was revealed to the public at large.

The president is busy assuring us that we can keep our private insurance plans, but common sense (and basic economics) tells us otherwise. The public option in the Democratic health care plan will crowd out private insurers, and that’s what it’s intended to do. A single payer health care plan has been President Obama’s agenda all along, though he is now claiming otherwise. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what he said back in 2003:

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care plan…. A single payer health care plan – universal health care plan – that’s what I would like to see.” [3

A single-payer health care plan might be what Obama would like to see, but is it what the rest of us would like to see? What does a single payer health care plan look like? We need look no further than other countries who have adopted such a plan. The picture isn’t pretty. [4] The only way they can control costs is to ration care. As I noted in my earlier statement quoting Thomas Sowell, government run health care won’t reduce the price of medical care; it will simply refuse to pay the price. The expensive innovative procedures that people from all over the world come to the United States for will not be available under a government plan that seeks to cover everyone by capping costs.

Our senior citizens are right to be wary of this health care bill. Medical care at the end of life accounts for 80 percent of all health care. When care is rationed, that is naturally where the cuts will be felt first. The “end-of-life” consultations authorized in Section 1233 of HR 3200 were an obvious and heavy handed attempt at pressuring people to reduce the financial burden on the system by minimizing their own care. Worst still, it actually provided a financial incentive to doctors to initiate these consultations. People are right to point out that such a provision doesn’t sound “purely voluntary.”

In an article I noted yesterday, Charles Lane wrote:

    “Ideally, the delicate decisions about how to manage life’send would be made in a setting that is neutral in both appearance and fact. Yes, it’s good to have a doctor’s perspective. But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed, the measure would have an interested party — the government — recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don’t have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.” [5]

I agree. Last year, I issued a proclamation for “Healthcare Decisions Day.” [6] The proclamation sought to increase the public’s knowledge about creating living wills and establishing powers of attorney. There was no incentive to choose one option over another. There was certainly no financial incentive for physicians to push anything. In fact, the proclamation explicitly called on medical professionals and lawyers “to volunteer their time and efforts” to provide information to the public.

Comparing the “Healthcare Decisions Day” proclamation to Section 1233 of HR 3200 is ridiculous. The two are like apples and oranges. The attempt to link the two shows how desperate the proponents of nationalized health care are to shift the debate away from the disturbing details of their bill.

There is one aspect of this bill which I have not addressed yet, but it’s a very obvious one. It’s the simple fact that we can’t afford it. But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Doug Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. He told the Senate Budget Committee last month:

    “In the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.” [7]

Dr. Elmendorf went on to note that this health care legislation would increase spending at an unsustainable rate.

Our nation is already $11.5 trillion in debt. Where will the money come from? Taxes, of course. And will a burdensome new tax help our economy recover? Of course not. The best way to encourage more health care coverage is to foster a strong economy where people can afford to purchase their own coverage if they choose to do so. The current administration’s economic policies have done nothing to help in this regard.

Health care is without a doubt a complex and contentious issue, but health care reform should be a market oriented solution. There are many ways we can reform the system and lower costs without nationalizing it.

The economist Arthur Laffer has taken the lead in pushing for a patient-center health care reform policy. He noted in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month:

    “A patient-centered health-care reform begins with individual ownership of insurance policies and leverages Health Savings Accounts, a low-premium, high-deductible alternative to traditional insurance that includes a tax-advantaged savings account. It allows people to purchase insurance policies across state lines and reduces the number of mandated benefits insurers are required to cover. It reallocates the majority of Medicaid spending into a simple voucher for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance. And it reduces the cost of medical procedures by reforming tort liability laws.” [8]

Those are real reforms that we can live with and afford. Once again, I warn my fellow Americans that if we go down the path of nationalized health care, there will be no turning back. We must stop and think or we may find ourselves losing even more of our freedoms.

Sarah Palin uses the word “nationalized health care.” She should have used the word “socialized healthcare.” Like I said before there is a need for Universal Healthcare in America; however a socialized government managed Universal Healthcare will be like Big Brother dictating to the lives of Americans eroding personal Liberty in America.

A national standard does need to exist but that is to ensure Capitalism does not run amok down the other side of the scale toward inhumane medical charges to maximize the profit beyond the scope of the life of the individual. Profits and ownership is good and the American way, but human lives are priceless and should not be measured by the profit share. I am saying make money but not by exploitation.

I am also saying do not allow the government to dictate the management of your medical. The government should only certify citizens are protected and that the market is fair. This may also entail reform on how Doctors must maintain insurance for themselves to protect themselves from frivolous litigation.

Unfortunately Obamacare may have to be the starting point for Universal Healthcare to begin in America for I believe the Slanted Right does not have the cajones to initiate a profitable regulated Universal Healthcare because of the lobbyists that prefer the status quo. The status quo is not acceptable. People suffer in the current status quo medical system.

As I have said before better an initiated Obamacare now and the Conservatives chipping away the socialism in exchange for a regulated market as time goes on instead of maintaining the status quo. If some high profile politicians can get on board to offer an alternative to Obamacare then do it now. The alternative plan is the best way to counter the socialistic Obamacare system.

Check out this idea as an alternative at We The People Health. I am not saying this is the best alternative to Obamacare but it is viable option to explore or to build upon for other viable alternatives.

JRH 8/16/09

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