Food For Thought II



Op-Ed: Let's not forget the human cost of health care reform

The Washington Examiner  |

2009-03-16 | U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint

In Great Britain last year, a 24-year old woman named Katie Hilliard was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The disease has since spread to her lungs and lymph nodes. In October, she took time off from her course of chemo and radiation therapy to marry her fiancée because, in her words, “We didn’t know how ill I would get.” The family of Claire Everett does know. She died in September, of the same disease, with her parents, husband, and two-year old son by her side. She was 23.

Both could have been diagnosed early and possibly saved by a routine screening test. But the British National Health Service does not allow women under the age of 25 to receive that test.

These kinds of stories are commonplace in nations with government-controlled health care, with good reason. As the miracle workers in the global medical research field develop treatments to keep us alive and healthy much longer than ever before, the costs of health care inevitably rise. Government health services looking to cut costs usually choose to ration coverage.

In Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, and elsewhere, government bureaucrats decide which patients may receive which treatments based on how beneficial the treatment will be – beneficial to the government, that is, not the patient.

The process by which government health departments decide who gets what is called “Comparative Effectiveness Research” (CER). And you might be surprised to know there was more than $1 billion allocated for CER in the so-called economic stimulus bill passed last month by Congress.

The same research that countries with government-controlled care use to deny hip replacements to seniors with osteoporosis, let patients with macular degeneration go blind in one eye before treatment, and deny breakthrough drugs to patients with Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, has now become part of American federal law.

Americans should be shocked, but not surprised. CER is only one step in the Obama Administration’s insidious plan to take over American health care… for our own good.

Consider the case of Tom Daschle, President Obama’s first choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and America’s leading cheerleader for CER. He wrote a book calling for federal bureaucrats to make “specific coverage decisions” for government-managed health care programs and to “exert tremendous influence on every … provider and payer, even those in the private sector” [emphasis added].

Consider the billions set aside in the stimulus bill to begin creating a national database of digitized medical records, Health IT. I have no problem with electronic medical records – they will probably reduce mistakes, lower costs, and even save lives.

But I have a big problem with the government mandating the format of those records, fining any insurer who chooses alternative formats, and then using its massive database of confidential patient information to conduct its CER studies. But that’s exactly what the president’s 2010 budget advocates: “When [CER is] coupled with electronic health records, these findings can form the basis for clinical decision support tools.”

And consider the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the first health care bill President Obama signed into law. Enacted in 1997 to provide health coverage for children of the working poor, the new SCHIP will cover children of parents who earn up to $106,000 per year. That is, children throughout the lower, middle, and upper-middle class will now grow up eligible for and accustomed to government-managed health care.

Unless Americans act quickly, this health care nightmare could soon be reality: when “Generation SCHIP” reaches adulthood and risks losing its “free” health care, voters will finally allow Democrats to socialize medicine once and for all.

Armed with its Health IT-based CER studies, the federal government can start rationing health care as it must to control the costs of a massive universal system.

When that happens, the consequences here in America will be the same as they have been everywhere else socialized medicine has been tried. Sick patients will wait weeks to see a primary care physician.

They will wait months to see a specialist. They will wait years to receive routine treatments. And they will be denied extraordinary treatments altogether. And before long, we’ll understand the true, human costs of a “free” system.

If we do not act quickly to reject socialized medicine, the next Katie Hilliard or Claire Everett won’t be across an ocean, but across town, across the street, or maybe even across the kitchen table.


Republican Sen. Jim DeMint is the junior senator from South Carolina.

Josie06 Josie06
56-60, F
2 Responses Mar 18, 2009

As for the younger generation, i once read that they choose to go without cause they are young and don't have the medical problems (yet).<br />
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Many of the government plans, as well as big businesses, get some better coverage because of all the employees that are in the plan. The bigger the number the more the money flowing.<br />
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Healthcare in the US is so expensive, IMHO, because business and insurance companies are the drivers. The real drivers should be the patients and the doctors/hospitals. Government shouldn't be at the table but should ensure a level playing field in all states from a distance.<br />
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i think healthcare needs changes in the US ... i don't believe that the US government is best suited to manage that care.

Most government insurance in the US is provided by private companies (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, etc). It is not truly government run and managed as being discussed in universal healthcare.<br />
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Government plans such as these have been good over the years, but lately the premiums have been rising and the co-pays.<br />
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Employee benefit plans offer healthcare. That healthcare is purchased by the employer ... this is a first time i've ever heard of a plan where the employees are in one city and all the doctors in another 100 miles away. Doesn't souind like much of an employee benefit to me.