Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Twenty polite questions on Obama’s socialised medicine [update 2]

Americans are angry.  They’re not just angry that their freedom to organise their own health care is being taken away by the ObamaCare Health Bill (what it actually says is analysed here at the Principles in Practice blog), they’re not just angry at the cap-and-trade hogwash sluiced out by President Zero, they’re increasingly angry too at the dismissive way they’re being treated by the Obama Administration and its shills.

The anger is boiling over spontaneously at “Town Hall meetings” around the country organised to put over the two plans to the public – a public clearly underwhelmed by what they’ve been hearing. “We don’t want it.” “We don’t want your help.” “Why would we want that?” they’re saying about both ObamaCare and ObamaCap-and-Tax. Says Dorothy Rabinowotz in the Wall Street Journal,

It [doesn’t] take chaotic town-hall meetings, raging demonstrators and consequent brooding in various sectors of the media to bring home the truth that the campaign for a health-care bill is, to put it mildly, not going awfully well.

So what would you ask if you had the chance?  Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist has Twenty Questions for your Congressman you might like to note down. “These are the kinds of questions,” he says, “we should all be thinking about and trying to answer, if we are going to subject this legislation to the scrutiny it needs before Congress votes on it.”  They’re a model of questioning penetration – and since they overturn much of the disinformation EnZedders will have been hearing about existing US health-care and the ObamaCare plan I’ve reposted some slightly paraphrased and abridged excerpts here:

    1. The government has been "reforming" health-care for sixty years . . . until it is now more than 50% of all health-care spending. Yet after sixty years of government "reform," the problems with health-care are just getting worse. So why should we believe that even more government is the solution?
    2. President Obama keeps telling us that he's not trying to get rid of private health insurance. But the bill being debated in Congress would require all the conditions of all new insurance policies to be  be dictated by a so-called "Health Choices Commissioner." How is this insurance going to be "private" if the government controls everything about it?
    3. A video on YouTube shows Barack Obama back in 2003—only six years ago—saying that he is in favor of a "single payer" system. The "single payer" is government, so . . . when Obama and the Democrats tell us this bill won't lead to a government takeover of health-care, why should we believe them?
    4. Medicare is broke. Social Security is broke. Federal tax receipts are falling, and Congress has already voted on trillions of dollars of stimulus and bailouts in the last year. The national credit card is maxed out. So how can you justify voting for a bill that will require even more money that we don't have?
    5. The health-care bill imposes an enormous increase of costs on businesses and insurers. Have you considered how they're going to pay for all of this? How many of these companies will go out of business or lay off more workers after the government forcibly increases their expenses?
    6. Insurers will be forced to cover people with "pre-existing conditions." That's like getting insurance on your car after you crash it. This isn't insurance, it's a handout. So doesn't that mean that the rest of us will have to pay more for our insurance to absorb the cost of those handouts?
    7. The health-care bill will mandate what costs insurance companies have to cover. For example, they will have to pay for routine check-ups and physicals, or they will have to provide every woman with maternity coverage. But what if you don't want to pay for that extra coverage? By taking those choices away from us, won't this bill actually make our insurance more expensive, not less?
    8. A lot of people have been upset about Congress passing bills that they haven't had time to read—can you really say that anyone has had the time to figure out how all the parts will work together and what all of the consequences will be? With a bill this big, is it even possible to figure out all of that and really know what you're voting for?
    9. President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making us a lot of promises, but what is or isn't in this one particular bill is not the end of the story. But as more and more of us become dependent on the government for our health-care coverage, won't we have to worry about what some future Congress or some future bureaucrat will decide to cover or not cover?
    10. The defenders of the health-care bill claim that it's going to lead to all sorts of savings, not by actually cutting any services or denying care, but just by finding "inefficiencies" that will save money. Do you think this is remotely plausible? When has anybody ever said, "This project has to be lean and efficient—let's get the government do it"?
    11. Since the proposed government-provided health insurance plans to save money by substituting Medicare reimbursement rates for market rates when paying doctors and hospitals, and many private hospitals and medical practices have said they can't cover their expenses at these lower rates -- and will have to go out of business -- doesn't this bill guarantee an immediate shortage of doctors and medical services?
    12. Medicare cuts costs by paying lower rates to doctors and hospitals, who then shift these costs to those of us with private health insurance, who get charged higher rates. But if the government takes over and starts dictating Medicare reimbursement rates for everyone, who will the costs get shifted to then?
    13. The term "brain drain" was originally coined in the 1960s when doctors and medical researchers left Britain to escape socialized medicine. Aren't you afraid we might see the same kind of brain drain from the medical profession here in America?
    14. Do you know the meaning and significance of the term "quality adjusted life year"? (NB: "Quality adjusted life year" is a term used under socialized medicine to determine whether elderly patients are allowed to get expensive drugs or treatments, depending on some bureaucrat's calculation of how many good years they have left.) Can you assure us that the same thing won't happen here?
    15. The government proposes a panel of medical experts who will dictate from Washington what the “proper medical practices” are that should be paid for, and what practices are supposedly "wasteful" and "unnecessary." Won't this mean interfering with decisions normally be made by me and my doctor? And what will this do to innovation if every new idea has to get approved by a board of establishment "experts" before use?
    16. Government-run health-care is not some new, untested idea. In Britain, it has led to a "postcode lottery," where the medical procedures you are allow to get depend on where you live. In Canada, it has led to a shortage of doctors and waiting lists for major surgeries. In America, Medicare ended up costing far, far more than anyone expected. Massachusetts and Maine spent enormous amounts of money to extend government coverage to very few people. The Oregon Health Plan may not cover your cancer treatment—but it will cover assisted suicide. Given all of this experience, what makes you think that somehow this will be the exception that will avoid all of the problems that government health-care has always led to?
    17. Why does "reform" always mean more government? Are you aware of proposals that have been put forward for free-market reforms of health care? Congress has already approved Health Savings Accounts, where individuals buy their own high-deductible health insurance and save money tax-free, which they can use for their out-of-pocket health-care expenses. This gives people more control over their spending on routine medical treatments while keeping them covered for a serious illness, and it allows them to keep their health insurance if they change jobs. But this program has been limited in size. Are you open to ideas like this, for free-market reform of health-care?
    18. A lot of doctors say that medical malpractice insurance is what is really driving up health-care costs. So why isn't tort reform—for example, limiting excessive jury awards in malpractice lawsuits—being considered as part of health-care reform?
    19. What part of your decision on this bill, if any, is affected by a consideration for liberty, individual rights, and the Constitution? Would you consider opposing it simply because it grants powers to the government that are not authorized anywhere in the Constitution?
    20. Thomas Jefferson said, "A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." Notice what is not on his list: government-provided housing, or government-provided food, or government-provided health care. And Jefferson's views on the role of government were widely shared by America's Founding Fathers. So my question is: Please explain where you disagree with the vision of our Founding Fathers, and why.

Great stuff. Head here to read (and print out) all twenty questions in full.

PS: How many believe the myth that America has something called a free market health care system. Read this at Forbes Magazine and have your delusions shattered: The Myth Of Free Market Health Care In America.[Hat tip Thrutch]

UPDATE:  Does the ObamaCare programme cover broken noses from Obamadinejad’s thugs?  Watch the news true and hilarious at News Busters [hat tip Betsy S.]:


  1. PC, it's a truly alarming prospect that is made worse by the US having some of the worst health stats in the western world.

  2. Good post! And I just have to pinch that Jefferson quote.It says all that's necessary about governments. :-)
    Sus, the U.S. also has some of the best health stats--the rates of death from cancer, for example are something like 140% lower than Britain and Canada. I'll go look for the figures.

  3. The cancer mortality rates for each of the 50 countries are ranked from the highest to the lowest. Separate graphs are shown for males and females. There is a four-fold difference between the lowest (54.4 in Thailand) and highest (235.4 in Hungary) male cancer mortality rates. The difference between the lowest and highest rates for female cancer mortality is not as striking (36.4 in Thailand vs. 139.4 in Denmark), a little less than four-fold. For males, the United States ranks 24th (163.2 per 100,000) from the highest; for females, the United States ranks 17th (109.7 per 100,000) out of 50 countries.
    Now, I realise that this doesn't tell the whole story, not by a long shot.
    But the fact remains, that a man diagnosed with-say-prostate cancer in the U.S. has a far better chance of survival than his European counterpart.
    Socialised medicine kills.

  4. KG, I'm thinking of heart disease and its obesity-related conditions, in particular. The Americans are, sadly, waddling their way to early graves of which that heavily-processed diet for several decades is a big player.

    You don't have to remind me that socialised medicine kills, by the way. Not only am I a libertarian, I also work in the health industry -- for my sins. ;)

  5. Further, there's a difference between health and disease stats.

    In other words, the numbers contracting diseases relative to survival afterward. There's no argument that the better developed the country, the better the chance of survival.

  6. :-) point taken.

    You may enjoy this Sus:

  7. Steyn dead on the money again -- and can't we just identify with all that down here, eh? Many thanks for that.

  8. Question number one says it all! Reminds me of another great quote, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan. This health care reform can only possibly lead to MORE government control, expense and boondoggle. And real private-sector fixes aren't even being discussed. It's appalling.

  9. For the last few days I've been on a road trip throughout the USA. By the time I've finished up there will have been over 2000 miles gone under my wheels (and, yes, it is the supercharged Corvette for me). There are a few interesting things to relate about the US take-away diet.

    It is about those corn based products. Whether you get syrup, oil, filler and so forth, a lot of it is corn based. That stuff is not good. Not when it's processed to the point it aint corn but some residual corn sourced chemicals with additives. Then there is sugar. Sugar is endemic. It is the second cheapest food filler or food bulking agent (powdered clay is cheaper). It has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. The local pallet is so corrupted by sugar that some wines have added sugar to make them more popular.


    How about this- deep fried battered meat pies. Yes! First the pie is prepared and baked. Then it is chilled, battered and stored. When a customer orders it, it is deep fried and served. What a mess!.

    So there are lots and lots of tubbies here. My, oh my. They are everywhere and they are waddling towards a most uncomfortable death. Maybe Obama can save 'em. That's funny really, as that'd have to be the only type of saving he'd promote- saving fat.

    BTW, aside from NZ, where there are plenty of Polynesian and Maori people suffering similar figure trouble, I've not seen so many young trough tubbies around and about the show. For example, there are nothing like as many in the lucky country, that's for sure.

    Re Hungary. Yes. Men die early there. The average age of death for a male is only 55 yrs. Given the way they drink and smoke it is no surprise that they kark early. There are also several other factors at work there. The food is excellent. Really, really good taste. Probably eating too much of it (which is what has to be happening) contributes to the early demise of many men. Also there are sooooo may beautiful women. Utterly amazing. They guys are well and truly spoiled to the point that they hardly pay attention to the beauty that surrounds them. Those girls get their catch and likely ride their guys to early demise. Couple that to an acute accommodation shortage and you have all the elements in place. Be careful what you wish for and who you take on in regards to Eastern European women. Anyway, by the time the average Hungarian bloke gets a competent doctor, it's too damn late. He's beyond socialised salvation.


  10. If you're interested in why American food is so terrible, read 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' by Michael Pollan.

    The biggest causes (that I can see) are the subsidies on corn (which is essentially a subsidy on calories) and the Government's actions after WW2 regarding synthetic chemical fertilizers.

    Anyway, that book is very interesting - apart from a few errors in some of his reasoning (he gets American confused with a capitalist country, and therefore makes some swipes at capitalism, without really realising the flaws in his definitions of it. Just replace the word 'capitalism' with 'socialism/govt. interference' and you'll be fine).

  11. "Be careful what you wish for and who you take on in regards to Eastern European women."

    You mean those Russian Brides, LG? ;)

    (Shh -- that's just between you and me. The Drunk might be listening and his sense of humour goes AWOL at this sort of talk). :)

  12. "Just replace the word 'capitalism' with 'socialism/govt. interference'" ..

    .. and you've just neatly described the real cause of the global financial crisis, David.

  13. And for another great quote, there's PJ O'Rourke:

    "If you think [American] healthcare is expensive now, then just wait until it's free."

  14. Sus

    Yup. That's the ticket. RBs are right up there.

    The typical Western male is completely vulnerable to these women. He has not got a hope.


  15. LG, off-topic, but I found your email from last month in my spam box last night. I've replied & I think it's a very good idea. :)

  16. What PART of Hungary do you recommend (for those beautiful women I mean - not the heart disease bit!) :-)

  17. Don't think the two are mutually exclusive, TK ... ;)


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