Tag Archive | "government insurance"

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On the Health Care System We Aspire To

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-06-24 12:22:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Today I got a call from my Mom. She and my Dad both live in the city I was born in – Warsaw, Poland. They are both elderly and live off of a government pension akin to the US social security system. The reason she called was to let me know of an excruciating pain she has recently been suffering from, resulting from a progressively degenerative neurological condition in her wrist. As all Poles are, she is entitled to free medical care in government health care facilities under the country’s universal health care insurance program. Trying to get help for her condition, she has visited with several general practitioners covered under her free plan, all of whom admit she needs to see a specialist. The last one finally crafted a referral for her and she is now scheduled to see a neurologist … in three months. Ouch !

Her options now include continuing to suffer the intolerable pain for the next 3 months or pay out of pocket to see a private specialist. The fee for a consultation with a neurologist in private practice exceeds two months of her pension income, but under the circumstances she will have to do just that. The costs of any resulting treatments, if not covered under the government health care plan, may have a devastating financial effect on her and my dad’s retirement lifestyle.

My parents could have opted to purchase private health care insurance coverage which provides access to services in private hospitals and clinics with the most skilled specialists but, because the government program is so dominant and pervasive, the cost of the private alternative is beyond the reach of most middle-class Poles. As a result, it is accessible to only the most affluent (or motivated by dire circumstances and lacking other options) individuals.

Interestingly enough, in many European countries the Polish medical system as a whole is actually touted as one of the better and when compared with the British system in particular, it receives accolades for efficiency and quality of care. What is underscored is the diminishing role of the public plan option and the progressively increasing percentage of services being offered under private insurance. The availability and increasing popularity of the private health care option is viewed with envy. A good summary of these changes in the Polish medical system can be found in this article from CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). With this shift, as more competition is introduced in the private sector and the dominance of the government program is lessened (or eliminated), my mom might yet one day be able to afford a private insurance plan and access to the highly skilled medical professionals in Poland, heretofore not accessible to her under her existing plan and her present means.

But in the US exactly the opposite direction is being proposed. There can be very little doubt, and certainly countless examples of dysfunctional government programs across Europe and other countries serve as an example, that a private health care system necessarily offers superior services at a competitive price. As I have written in a prior Naked Liberty article on the Dangers of Comparative Effectiveness, instead of experimenting with proven failed systems, the US should adopt targeted approaches to improving those parts of our current system which offer opportunities for improvement, such as for example the implementation of a national electronic medical records system and tax incentives to support wellness and health awareness.

What’s being proposed is like trading in your comfortable and dependable SUV for a Yugo just because you happened to have gotten a flat tire. Let’s fix the tire and get on with our lives without any more government intervening in it.

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Quotation of the Day:

“We should manage our fortunes as we do our health – enjoy it when good, be patient when it is bad, and never apply violent remedies except in an extreme necessity.“

Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680)

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On the Hidden Dangers of Comparative Effectiveness

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-06-18 21:15:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

As part of the stimulus spending package approved by the government earlier this year, funding in the amount of $1.1 billion was included to sponsor research into comparing the relative effectiveness of one form of medical treatment to another. Such research, as the program’s sponsors and supporters argued, would over time reduce the net cost of medical services by determining which medical procedures offer the lowest cost treatment to address common ailments. Armed with such information, it was further argued, doctors and medical professionals would apply this additional economic data in their decision to prescribe specific medicines and treatments.

On the surface this would seem to make good common sense in that it would provide some stabilizing relief to the increasing costs to the government of operating the country’s medicaid, medicare and veteran benefit systems. However, some of the less known aspects of the research bring out a number of troubling issues. Among these is the inclusion of studies which add the dimension of patient characteristics (such as age, gender, lifestyle) into the formula of overall effectiveness. As a result, effectiveness is defined in terms of a cost-benefit ratio as applied to a specific type of individual. For example, a comparative value is placed on the benefit of curing an illness in an 80 year-old versus 20 year-old man.  When faced with limited resources the results of the research would then be intended to provide guidance as to how those limited resources should be applied and when to apply available cures relative to the cost and benefit that such cures would provide. In the case cited, the 80 year-old man has little chance of receiving priority consideration.

While such policy is widely accepted in many European countries, I dare say to any American pondering such gross delegation of power over life and death decisions this has to be deeply concerning. There are numerous specific opportunities to bring new efficiency and reduce the resulting costs associated with providing healthcare. National electronic medical records, individual (not employer) management of healthcare insurance subscription, tax incentives to support wellness and health awareness are all excellent examples.

The recipe is to make individuals more responsible for the management of their health and medical matters. Delegating this to a disinterested third part, especially a government bureaucracy is tantamount to relinquishing one’s freedom.

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Quotation of the Day:

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
We welcome your comments and suggestions, either directly inline, or via email to editor@nakedliberty.com. If you would like to have your article published in Naked Liberty, please contact the editor at the above email address.

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Trust in Government and Health Care Reform

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-07-16 22:52:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

healthcare-reformTrust between the government and the people that elect it is the pivotal aspect of a democracy. When that trust is damaged, discontent rises. When its lost, a society faces serious risks of disintegration and chaos. Where are we in present times? To me it certainly feels like somewhere in between the two. Let me explain why.

One of the mantras which President Obama is offering in support of his (or actually it’s the Congress’) health care reform plan, is that all who are happy with their current plan will be able to keep it – seemingly a strong provision for those who would be concerned about a government mandated option. In his speech to the AMA in Chicago on June 15 he said:

“So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage – they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what’s broken and build on what works.”

Read this quote a few times. What possibly could be hiding behind this simply worded, plain and direct commitment? 

Surprisingly there is. While the draft of the plan has recently been made public, its most controversial aspects have been omitted from distribution. The publicly released draft, comprising 615 pages of legal terms, conditions and constructs conveniently skips over most all of the contested issues, and particularly that of choice of health care providers. See CNS News article. The full draft comprising over 1,018 pages is yet to be made public, but several sources, including Rush Limbaugh and Rossputin.com have obtained copies (available here) where on page 16 the full draft Section 102 reads:

SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE.
(a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:
(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.
(A) IN GENERAL. Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.

Translated into plain language, while the proposed plan indeed allows you to retain your current plan and coverage (“Grandfathered option”),  but starting from the day the law is enacted (i.e. “first day of Y1”) your insurrer by law would be forbidden from accepting new members. Huh? Could this really be the case? The result of such a provision is so blatently clear – the eventual elimination of the private health care option, since clearly, over time, with no new subscribers, membership in private health plans would necessarily die off. I wouldn’t use the word “devious,” but then I struggle to come up with a word more appropriate. So the President gets to keep his promise – at least in the short term – and the country’s health care system ends up being socialized a-la the Eastern block model of the 1950’s. You certainly have to give him credit for being clever.

Now of course this little known fact has not yet caught on with the public. And we don’t yet know how much more editing the existing 1018 pages will undergo, but the overt and not so transparent use of sly tactics, inclusion of major provisions injected at the last minute, attempts to subvert the spirit of what is communicated to the public – none of this can be reinforcing of our faith and trust in the government. 

Please share this article with anyone who you know cares about the truth and purity of the government “We the People” elect to serve us.

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To Sur, With Love

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-07-28 17:17:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

by Rick SincereRickSincere
RickSincereThoughts
July 16, 2009

As part of the gargantuan (1,000-page-plus) health care “reform” package introduced by members of the Democratic majority in Congress, the Obama administration proposes to raise taxes through a “surtax” on Americans who earn the most money.

The Washington Post explained this “soak the rich” policy in a front-page article on July 15:

The surtax would start at 1 percent and rise to 5.4 percent on income exceeding $1 million. Combined with the expiration next year of tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, the surtax would drive the top federal tax rate to 45 percent, the highest level since lawmakers rewrote the tax code in 1986.

The Washington Times, for its part, points out that this raises U.S. marginal tax rates to their highest levels since the 1980s:

A new surtax of 5.4 percent in the health care bill, which would apply to married couples’ income above $1 million, would bring the top federal income tax rate to 45 percent.

After consideration of state and local income taxes and the Medicare payroll tax, which applies to all wage and salary income, taxpayers in 39 states would face a top marginal income tax rate of more than 50 percent, according to a study by the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax research group based in the District.

“That means government would be taking more than half of every additional dollar from high-income taxpayers,” said Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge. “The lowest tax rate would be 47 percent – and that’s in the nine states that don’t tax wages.”

Businesses say the surtax would hurt the economy.

“The intention of this plan is to tax high-income households, but the real victims would be America’s small-business owners,” said Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Placing a big tax burden on the small-business community would rob them of the resources they need to create the jobs that will lead us out of the recession.”

President Obama would be wise to look to history to see what happened the last time a president made a surtax the centerpiece of his economic program. (Some might object that this is a “health care” program. That’s true, up to a point. The fact that the bill has been referred to the Finance Committee in the House suggests that this is really a revenue bill.)

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In Yanek Mieczkowski’s 2005 book, Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s, the Dowling College historian relates what happened when Ford proposed a 5 percent surtax on all incomes above $15,000 (more than it sounds like; remember, these were 1974 dollars) in his first major economic legislative package:

As what he termed “the acid test of our joint determination to whip inflation in America,” Ford pronounced the cornerstone of his new economic program, a one-year, 5 percent surcharge on corporate and personal incomes. The surtax was directed at individuals with yearly earnings of $15,000 or more for married taxpayers and $7,500 for the unmarried. (Taxpayers would have to figure out what they normally owed the government, then add the 5 percent surtax to it.) The advantages of the surtax were that it would be mildly progressive, since the rich would pay more, and temporary, lasting only the calendar year 1975. Nor was it onerous. For example, a single person earning $15,000 would pay a federal income tax of $2,549; the surcharge would add $78. (p. 121)

Despite its modest appearance, Ford’s proposal was met with strong opposition, especially from the Democrats who held a majority in Congress (a majority that would grow substantially after the midterm elections a few weeks after his proposal was announced). Republicans were not too fond of it, either.

Ford took a political risk by proposing a surtax less than a month before congressional elections. Unveiling a tax increase at such a time was like unleashing a skunk at a picnic; representatives and senators ran in the opposite direction, refusing to embrace or even come close to it. Officeholders facing difficult reelection battles, such as GOP senators Bob Dole of Kansas and Marlow Cook of Kentucky, deserted their president rather than support the proposal….

The program itself was a political bomb. The jumble of proposals gave the whole thing an eclectic feel, and the centerpiece — a tax increase — fell flat. One poll showed that Americans opposed the surtax, 58 to 34 percent. Members of Congress resisted it. Just two days after the speech, William Baroody warned Ford that it was “in serious trouble on the Hill and very unpopular politically” and that Congress was in no mood to reduce spending. Two weeks before the election [William] Seidman publicly acknowledged that the surtax faced an uphill struggle on Capitol Hill and called its prospects “uncertain.” The overwhelming Republican repudiation in the ensuing elections turned “uncertain” to “doomed.” Ford’s policy making was off to a rocky start. (p. 124; footnotes omitted)

In one of the more significant parenthetical partial paragraphs of any work of recent history, however, Mieczkowski writes:

(One economist’s skepticism about the surtax generated what later became a mainstay of Ronald Reagan’s “supply-side” economics. Arthur Laffer doubted that the 5 percent surtax would generate much revenue, and while dining at a restaurant with Ford administration members Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, he drew a graph on a napkin to illustrate his belief that tax cuts — rather than increases — would raise more revenue because of increased business activity. His illustration became known as the “Laffer Curve.”) (p. 122)

Apparently other economists caught on, even if they hadn’t seen the napkin. Yanek Mieczkowski writes on page 130:

By November, many economists, realizing that Ford had miscalculated, urged him to drop the surtax proposal and switch his focus to fighting the recession. The president stuck by the surtax and still urged budget cuts.

In the end, the surtax proposal crashed and burned. Mieczkowski notes on page 131:

A political science axiom says that “the president proposes, Congress disposes.” Congress certainly disposed of Ford’s surtax, and quickly. Although he developed a fiscally balanced program incorporating many recommendations from the economic summit conferences, it was also like a multipronged barb that Congress could not swallow. And it soon became incongruous. The deteriorating economy, coupled with the inherent unpopularity of a tax increase, doomed Ford’s first major economic initiative. But that failure was fortunate; as events played out, a surtax would have aggravated the downturn. (emphasis added)

History teaches us, and not just in this example from the mid-1970s, that raising taxes during a recession is a bad idea.

Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have not absorbed this lesson of history and economics. Should they succeed in raising taxes to finance their ambitious program to socialize medicine, they — or, rather, we — will live to regret it.

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Rick Sincere is the editor of RickSincereThoughts

Article has been published with permission

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The December 2009 CCC Blog Carnival

Posted on 06 December 2009 by Editor

Welcome to the December 2009 edition of the Carnival of Conservative Conversations.

As always, for our monthly Blog Carnival we select articles from a wide range of topics and expressing a broad range of opinions. This month is no exception. Below you will find opinions, short editorials, commentaries and full articles on a variety of current topics.

In addition to posting to our monthly Blog Carnival, we encourage you to submit your articles directly to our editor for possible posting on our site well in advance of the next carnival. Please submit your articles, together with any specific attribution requirements and photograph by emailing our editor at editor@nakedliberty.com

smrtas1 presents the following articles, posted at Conservative Patriot HQ

Pelosi Pushes for Tort Reform?

3 Billion Reasons to Distrust House Health Care Reform Bill

Alternative Healthcare Reform Bill Would Save $1.7 Trillion

Glenn Beck Reveals the Plan

Scientists Supressing Facts Against Global Warming

Scott Spiegel presents the following articles,  posted at Scott Spiegel.

Obama Decision not to Campaign in Upstate New York Hands Unexpected Win to Democrat

Obama Approves Troop Increase in Southern District of New York

Cheating the Political Death Panel

A Miscellany of Climategate Scenarios That Will Not Appear

U.S. Common Sense presents the following articles, posted at U.S. Common Sense,

The government and your home – Examining the benefits of the Home Affordable Modification Program and the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit and debating which one is more beneficial to the taxpayer.

Nigel Coleman: idiot – Nigel Coleman is planning to burn the effigies of Pelosi and Perriello next weekend. This article explains why I think he’s an idiot.

Republican “Purity” Test? – Questioning the logic behind the RNC’s “purity” test, as well as providing my two cents on their ten-item list.

The Refounding Father presents the following articles,  posted at The Refounding Father.

Better Than Expected Economic Growth in 2010?

The Refounding Father: 9/11 Terriorists To Explain Why The Hijackers Flew Planes into the WTC & Pentagon

Tony Alexander presents:

From the Desk of “SoJ” November Edition: “Freedom” posted at The Soul of Japan, saying, “could you submit this for November 1st?”

John Prothro presents:

LastingLiberty.com – Timeless Voices – Bigger Than Healthcare posted at Obama Takes Over the Hundred Acre Wood, saying, “Economist Joseph Schumpeter shows that recent actions by the federal government are bigger than straightforward policy votes. Excessive borrowing and inflationary spending are not simply about stimulating our economy. Health care “reform” is not simply about expanding access. Both are government power grabs that represent further socialization of our country.”

muse presents:

Making Sense Out Of Obama’s New Health Plan Law posted at Shiloh Musings, saying, “Obama wants to milk expats.”

Mark J. Donovan presents:

The Silent Majority Will Save the United States posted at Home Addition, saying, “This article suggests that the silent majority will prevail in preventing the democratic socialist government from enslaving our children in debt and euthanizing our senior citizens.”

David Gross presents:

The Picket Line — 12 November 2009 posted at The Picket Line, saying, “The history and lore of strategic and conscientious tax resistance begins to surface amongst American conservatives.”

DWSUWF presents:

The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit’s New & Improved Scientific Method posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, “One document escaped the purloined University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit data leak. I have reverse engineered the CRU Scientific Methodology from the procedures documented in the e-mails and code. The New & Improved Scientific Methodology used to prove Anthropogenic Global Warming can now be revealed.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of conservative conversations using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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