Saturday, August 15, 2009

Healthcare Rationing Common Sense

I have read a number of editorials about healthcare rationing which prompted my posting yesterday. On Friday the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an editorial on rationing. While agreeing with me that Sarah Palin's claim of “Death Panels” is “over the top” they go on to say the following.

“(O)nce health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, rationing care is inevitable, and those who have lived the longest will find their care the most restricted. Far from being a scare tactic, this is a logical conclusion based on experience and common-sense. Once health care is a "free good" that government pays for, demand will soar and government costs will soar too. When the public finally reaches its taxing limit, something will have to give on the care and spending side. In a word, care will be rationed by politics.” (Read the entire Editorial)

It may indicate the isolation of the WSJ editorial staff from the American main stream and in particular seniors that they can say such things. The following should be considered rather than their undefined “experience” and “common sense”. [1]
  • Seniors are already significantly covered by nationalized government health care insurance.
  • Heath care is never a “free good”, even charities require resources to provide it.
  • Government pays for nothing, in our system we citizens pay for the things government does. We also select those who set up government programs and set the tax levels needed to fund them.
  • A large segment of us are already at our “taxing limit” and/or our “health care expense limit”. This is one urgent reason reform is needed.
  • Health care insurance is currently regulated at the state level. Such regulation could be nationalized without instituting a national health care insurance program (but, duh, see first item above).

They do admit and argue that rationing is inevitable. Resources are indeed limited, new technology does takes years to deploy and is very expensive, resources are often not where they are needed and hard decisions are required every day. The reform needs to ensure that these unavoidable decisions are made fairly and do not violate human rights or conscience rights.

The conclusion that reforms undertaken to assure that healthcare is available to all, that healthcare decisions are fair, that healthcare cost are controlled and human rights are protected will cause the very things they would fix is irrational.

The tone of many editorials on this subject including this one is that it is bad to have such decisions made by government. In another section they say that Medicare (the existing government insurance) costs could be reduced if seniors had more control over their own healthcare and that this could be achieved with more “competitive” plans available to seniors.

Since such a shift of control to patients has not happened in the current private and competitive insurance marketplace it is not likely to happen without government action to reform the system! I would ask seniors to consider which decision maker is most likely to grant any control to you, the private marketplace over which you and I realistically have no control or the government which is charged under our constitution with protecting our rights and over which you and I have some control?

For another analysis of the WSJ opinion see the American United fro Life Blog.
[1] I recall from teaching logic in college that specific true facts are required as premises to arrive at at logical conclusion. I don't think “experience” and “common sense” qualify as specific facts. Incorrectly calling something "logical" does not cancel it scary intent.

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