Howard Rich's Blog

May 20, 2009

Under Obamacare, Big Government Rations Care for Sick Patients

American health care may not be perfect, but it’s not on the verge of collapse either — unless President Obama succeeds with his various health care reform efforts, says Sally C. Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute and author of “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide.”

Exhibit A, says Pipes, is the $787-billion stimulus bill, which became law on February 19.  The measure builds on the principal flaw in American health care — the third-party payer system — government, insurers or employers.  Even more worrisome, she explains, the package provides the foundation for government rationing of care.

  • More than $1 billion of the stimulus is dedicated to government-sponsored research into the “comparative effectiveness” of various medical treatments.
  • In theory, such research could provide doctors with important information.
  • But because the research is government-funded, it will likely be used to justify cuts in government health spending.

That’s what’s done in Great Britain.  The British comparative-effectiveness agency routinely denies cutting-edge medicine because of cost.  And the Obama administration has begun creating comparative-effectiveness institutions that parallel those across the Atlantic.

On March 19, the Obama administration announced the establishment of a 15-member “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research” to oversee the research.  Terrifyingly, says Pipes, there are no practicing physicians, patient advocates, or nongovernment health care economists among the council’s members.  Instead, all hail from the Washington, D.C. area — and all are likely to see comparative effectiveness as a way to drive down costs by limiting the availability of drugs and medical treatments and rationing care.

By building on America’s third-party payer system, the stimulus package also guarantees that health care will continue to become more expensive without becoming any more secure, explains Pipes.

Americans face several choices for improving our system.  Obama would have us further build on the third-party payer system, to erect yet more government bureaucracy with a public health plan and an insurance exchange, and to expand subsidized coverage.  The president would fund such reforms with increased taxes, government debt, mandates on private-sector employers, and reduced spending on Medicare, says Pipes.

Source: Sally C. Pipes, “Under Obama Health Care Scheme, Big Government Rations Care for Sick Patients,

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