ALLAN JEFFERYS: Obama's Health Plan: Looks Like Socialized Medicine to Me
Listening to President Obama address the American Medical Association recently, you have to have been impressed.
Not only does he not hesitate to beard the lion in his den, but his calm, reassuring words also attacked the medical profession's objections before they could bring them up.
He promised that no one will have to change doctors under his proposed health plan and that costs will go down. He virtually guaranteed total health coverage, yet told us we can keep our own health plans if we wish. Thus he picked up the baton that Hillary Clinton dropped and warned: "If we do not fix our health-care system, America may go the way of GM: paying more, getting less and going broke."
Peering under the smooth Teleprompter words, you will find some big holes in the plan. That is understandable when you realize Obama is not an economist, not a medical provider and has a history of promising the moon while ignoring the green cheese it is made from.
First the guaranteed total coverage. Under the proposed bill, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that 36 million people would still remain uninsured in 2017. So much for universal coverage that will bring down costs.
The history of predicting costs of health coverage is also limp. Medicare in 1965 was projected to cost $3 billion in 1970; it actually cost $7 billion. Today taxpayers lay out about $455 billion a year, and there is no end in sight for constant rising.
Trillions are bandied about for this proposed health plan. And nowhere in the plan is there anything resembling tort reform. TV is filled with ads for lawyers seeking to sue for medical malpractice. Some doctors with otherwise impeccable records pay as much as $200,000 a year in malpractice insurance just to keep frivolous lawsuits at bay. And they are forced to order more and more unnecessary and expensive tests to keep from being sued.
This is unconscionable.
Doctors have a long history of being good Samaritans, offering pro bono treatments for those unable to pay and taking barter goods in lieu of fees. No emergency room ever turns away the indigent. Thus, this talk of mandatory coverage is more politics than needed. President Obama can bang on the table as he denies this plan is headed toward socialized medicine, but all the symptoms are as telling as a rash on your face spells measles.
What is our health future if we do get this government-controlled coverage? Read Thomas Sowell's latest book, "Applied Economics," for a clear and comprehensive analysis as he points to Canada and Britain or the Soviet Union for the answers.
In Moscow, the rules called for eight patients an hour. That is 7.5 minutes for each visit, of which five minutes was spent on paperwork. Britain has a reputation of filthy hospitals (which leads to widespread infection), overcrowded wards with overworked nurses. Treatment is rationed and long waits are common; the elderly are frequently denied treatment and organ replacements because the patients are expected to die soon anyway.
Contrast that with what we have here in America.
You don't have to be a physician to recognize the waste caused by pressure to see too many patients per hour. What could be resolved in one reasonable lengthy visit now costs much more as a host of tiny visits are scheduled. Bear in mind that what is proposed is that bureaucrats run all health care. In all countries, that leads to wasteful and costly meetings, paperwork, committees and other forms of inefficiency.
Keep in mind, too, that Congress escapes these problems because its health care is topnotch and untouchable.
This bill is nothing but a power grab: one more maneuver toward government control of too much of our life. That spells socialism in my book. And that will cost us far more than the loss of Chrysler or GM.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com.
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