Monday, August 1, 2011

Is NHS Style Rationing Headed Our Way?

In case you've become so consumed by the debt debate and need something else to read about, check out this post from The Heritage Foundation.  Obama really hopes we get so distracted by all these other disasters emanating from his administration that we forget about Obamacare by the time 2012 comes along.

Not a chance.

Keep in mind that Obamacare desperately wants to be like the British NHS; Obama's Medicare Czar, Dr. Donald Berwick, was widely quoted (including on this blog) lauding the NHS. From Robert M. Goldberg's American Spectator article last year (emphasis mine):

Berwick not only has a role model picked out for a role that sounds a lot like what he would be doing at CMS, he has a soulmate: For the past 15 years he has consulted for -- or, in his words, been "starry-eyed" over -- Britain's National Health Service. In 2008, at a 60th anniversary celebration of the creation NHS, he told a UK crowd, "I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country. "
Berwick complained the American health system runs in the "darkness of private enterprise," unlike Britain's "politically accountable system. " The NHS is "universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care -- a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just"; America's health system is "toxic," "fragmented," because of its dependence on consumer choice. He told his UK audience: "I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."
With that in mind, look at the rationing currently going on in the British health care system:

* Hip and knee replacements only being allowed where patients are in severe pain. Overweight patients will be made to lose weight before being considered for an operation.

* Cataract operations being withheld from patients until their sight problems "substantially" affect their ability to work.

* Patients with varicose veins only being operated on if they are suffering "chronic continuous pain", ulceration or bleeding.

* Tonsillectomy (removing tonsils) only to be carried out in children if they have had seven bouts of tonsillitis in the previous year.

* Grommets to improve hearing in children only being inserted in "exceptional circumstances" and after monitoring for six months
Heritage points out that we now have the framework in place to go down the same dark path as Britain.

Think that health care rationing isn’t possible in America? Think again. Under Obamacare, a board of unelected bureaucrats known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is tasked with reducing the growth in Medicare spending. With the powers IPAB has under current law, the Board can make changes—without congressional input—that would indirectly reduce seniors’ access to providers and services.

We can see the writing on the wall already. Consider, just as an example, the breast cancer drug Avastin:  just last week the National Comprehensive Cancer Network voted overwhelmingly in support of Avastin as a viable therapy drug for breast cancer yet last month the FDA pulled its support of the drug.  The drug can cost up to $90,000 a year for patients.

Medicare still currently covers Avastin but how long do we realistically expect that to last given the FDA position and Berwick's love of the NHS rationing system?  The same argument applies to the drug Provenge which supposedly is a vaccine against prostate cancer at the cost of $93,000 per course.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has expressed concern over the potential for rationing in the power vested in the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB):

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., recently reignited the debate by saying that under the presidentially appointed IPAB, "a bunch of bureaucrats decide whether you get care, such as continuing on dialysis or cancer chemotherapy."

"I guarantee you when you withdraw that, the patient is going to die," he said. "It's rationing."
And with Berwick in charge, who can doubt that it's coming?

Drug shortages are already becoming a bigger problem than ever before.

Heritage Foundation points out:

Americans are generally appalled to hear stories of rationing, but what many don’t realize is that under Obamacare, IPAB is empowered to take actions that could lead us down that very road. There is a better way to lower health care costs and deliver a higher quality of care: introducing competition and consumer choice through the reforms outlined in Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan.
Despite Obama's hopes that we forget the disaster that is Obamacare by 2012, we won't forget.    The rationing headed our way, however subtle, won't let us.

Update:  Related:  Health Industry Fears Double Whammy in Medicare Cuts

1 comment:

Sarah said...

God help us all if he wins another term.