Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Outrageous Myths About Healthcare

President Obama has slammed his internet, cable TV, and other un-American critics, like those who have gone to recent townhalls, for putting forth "outrageous myths" about his healthcare reform plans. Here are just a few myths to consider:

1. Death Panels. I blogged about this in a previous entry on August 16. To sum it up, yes there are no direct calls for a panel to decide who lives and who doesn't. If my brain shut off at that point and I were inclined to go watch daytime's Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil now I might be content to say "of course there'll be no death panels." However, by "cutting costs" at the same time you're adding to healthcare rolls and eventually rationing healthcare due to budget constraints, as happens in countries where socialized medicine has occured, you will eventually need to convene folks to decide how to best allocate scarce resources. In this case, the scarce resource is time, money, and doctor availability, and the person to whom this resource may not be allocated to is granny. A public option is a highway to socialized medicine. If you read this blog and you still don't understand this by now, go back to bed. I can't help you at this point.

2. End-of-Life Decisions. This is very similar to number one. No. There is nothing explicit on page x, y, or z on any of the healthcare bills that I haven't read that directly says anything along the lines of "granny: you've lived a long life. Don't you think it's time to go now? Living another 6 months will cost us too much. Do it for the team. Pull the plug." However, it is not unreasonable to infer that if this is passed, these decisions will take on more importance. We have an ageing population and scarce reasons. An insightful person could surely piece together how end-of-life decisions will be crucial in the not so distant future in light of massive budget constraints, government debt, scarce medical resources, and a growing number of people on government run healthcare rolls. So it's not in the bill necessarily but should we not really be forward thinking people? Bury our heads in the sand, perhaps?

3. Wait times for surgery will increase. It is getting ridiculous that anybody would consider this argument a myth. Again, budget constraint. Time. Cost. Scarce resources. Are more doctors going to appear? Can nurse practitioners do surgery? Money. Money. Did I say MONEY! Counter intuitively, this actually could be a myth if more doctors pursue specializations in relatively higher paying surgeries rather than lower margin family practices. So, if more doctors go in surgery specializations where the money is, it's possible this could be a myth. Although, the lawyers will need their piece and this could actually discourage it. Overall, this is not a myth because of the experience of other countries with socialized medicine. Prez: Logic is not on your side on this one.

4. Illegal immigrants would get coverage. Well, here the President is clever because they caveat this by saying they wouldn't "automatically" get coverage. But of course they will get coverage because, as the president said a few days ago, we're a compassionate society. I don't necessarily disagree with extending all human beings coverage in dire circumstances. It's just that a myth is not a myth when it's true and you said it yourself Mr. Prez.

5. This would pay for abortion. Again, would it "have to" pay for abortions or would it simply pay for abortions? Just like I don't "have to" have an abortion but if somebody does decide to do so, my understanding is that this will pay for that abortion. It is morally reprehensible to take money from citizens, a majority of whom no longer agree with it, to finance those who do make this ugly choice. The question is if it funds any abortion. If so, than it does pay for abortion and is justly repugnant and not a myth. I don't honestly know if this is in the bill. If not, great. I'm happy to be wrong here if this is indeed a myth.

6. Private insurance will be eliminated. It won't be eliminated but it will sure become an unattractive option for all those now receiving "free" healthcare or to those employees who pay more than 8% of their payroll on providing healthcare. Technically, it won't immediately eliminate private insurance across the board. Down the road it may. In the short term, it will eliminate private insurance options for many individually because their employer will drop it and/or they can't afford it on their own as compared to the "free" or cheap public option subsidized by a government that doesn't have to earn a profit because they can always print new money. Private insurance can't do that. It depends on who's perspective you are talking about. But from the perspective of many, this bill will essentially eliminate private insurance as a viable option in the near term.

All in all, it's a sad state of affairs when even somebody as dim as me can blow a whole through President Obama's rhetoric. I welcome his attempt to explain this and make clear what he intends. Go sell it. The problem is not the salesmanship so much as the product. You may be able to sell ice to eskimos but don't try to sell me poop in a bag and tell me it's lunch!

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