Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

We have single-payer health care already in the VA system – is it working?

VA health care wait times

VA health care wait times

This is health care policy expert Sally Pipes, writing in Investors Business Daily.

She writes:

new report from the Government Accountability Office has confirmed that the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t take care of those it’s supposed to serve.

The GAO has placed the VA’s health system on the “high risk” list of federal programs that are vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.” The agency is still struggling to recover from an 8-month-old internal audit that revealed that returning soldiers had to wait more than 90 days for care. Some patients died while waiting.

The GAO’s findings apply far beyond the VA. The agency’s problems — which include long wait-times and out-of-control costs — demonstrate what happens in any government-run, single-payer health care system.

The VA’s failings ought to give pause to the liberal politicians and policy analysts who would love to introduce single-payer health care for all Americans. But they don’t seem to have heeded the GAO report. Within a week of its release, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., called for “Medicare for All.”

Champions of socialized medicine used to point to the VA as proof that single-payer worked. In 2011, economist Paul Krugman called it “a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.” In a 2009 debate with me, Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt said that there’s an example of a single-payer system in the U.S. that works — the VA.

The VA offers lessons about health reform — just not the ones single-payer’s proponents have in mind.

Defenders of government-run health care claim that it will control costs by cutting out middlemen such as insurance companies. The evidence shows otherwise. According to the GAO, the VA budget more than doubled between 2002 and 2013 even as enrollment increased by less than a third.

Single-payer’s “guarantee” of access to high-quality care is a myth, too.

“Despite these substantial budget increases,” the GAO report says, “for more than a decade there have been numerous reports … of VA facilities failing to provide timely health care.”

Over the last decade, more than 63,000 veterans have been unable to get a doctor’s appointment. At least 40 veterans have died because of long waits.

Things aren’t likely to get better anytime soon. The VA has yet to act on more than 100 GAO recommendations for improving care.

Last summer, lawmakers allocated $10 billion to a program intended to reduce wait times by permitting veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system. So far, the agency has only authorized 31,000 vets to seek private care — out of a possible 8.5 million.

That has to change — 88% of veterans say that they want the ability to choose where they receive their care.

However, there is one military person who is getting health care – convicted traitor Bradley Manning. He’s getting sex-change surgery while he is in jail for leaking national security secrets to our enemies. He won’t have to wait at all for his health care. This is what happens when you take money out of your wallet, give it to the government, and then hope that when you get sick, someone in the government will decide that you are worthy of treatment. Which you aren’t, unless they want your vote.

It’s not just the VA health care system – government-run health care doesn’t work in other places:

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service, for instance, is notorious for denying patients everything from certain cancer medications to hip replacements.

The program is also financially unsustainable. According to its own medical director, Bruce Keogh, “if the NHS continues to function as it does now, it’s going to really struggle to cope because the model of delivery and service that we have at the moment is not fit for the future.”

In Canada’s single-payer system, the average wait time between referral from a general practitioner and the actual receipt of treatment by a specialist was more than four months in 2014. That’s nearly double the wait time of two decades ago.

The Canadian system is the one that Democrats want to emulate – but Canada’s rich left-wing politicians come here when they want care. They don’t want to wait in line. Why should we want to wait in line? We need to prefer consumer-driven health care over government-controlled health care.

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Canadian court rules that pro-life students can’t show images of abortion on campus

Map of Canada

Map of Canada

This is from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

In a stunning reversal of recent rulings in nearby provinces, British Columbia Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson has ruled that Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to pro-life students seeking space on the University of Victoria campus to demonstrate.

Former U Vic student Cameron Cote and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association had petitioned for a declaration that the university administration had breached the Youth Protecting Youth pro-life club’s Charter rights when, in early 2013, it refused permission to display pictures of aborted and healthy babies.

But the Charter only applies to government bodies and Hinkson ruled that the university, though funded mostly by taxpayers, and incorporated by the provincial government, which also appoints a majority of its directors, was acting privately when it decided to deny YPY use of its property. So even though the decision was based on the content of YPY’s pro-life message, the Charter protection of free speech and assembly does not apply.

The university is funded by taxpayer dollars – it’s not private. But, any port in a storm for this judge.

More:

[T]he University of Victoria, by simply refusing YPY space to air its views, was acting as a private landlord, ruled Hinkson. But what Hinkson isn’t getting, said John Carpay, head of the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, is that universities respect freedom of speech, and alternately impose censorship, very selectively.

“Universities censor pro-life students for showing graphic pictures of aborted babies,” said Carpay. “But universities allow Falun Gong supporters showing graphic pictures of members tortured by the Chinese government. They also allow those promoting use of seat belts to show graphic images of people with their heads halfway through windshields.”

“Free expression is a cornerstone of democracy,” Carpay added. “But a lot of people seem to believe they have a right not be offended, and this outweighs free speech.”

[…]YPY’s battle with the U Vic student society goes back at least to 1999, when the pro-life club won a human rights discrimination ruling. In 2010, a second human rights complaint against the society was settled out of court in the club’s favor.

In all these cases pro-abortion students complained that they felt “harassed” by YPY’s posters, pamphlets, or pictures. The student society then suspended the group’s club status, resulting in the removal of the privilege to use university property for its activities.

As well, pro-abortion protesters have stolen YPY displays, covered others in cat feces, and pelted members’ belongings with smoke bombs and stink bombs with no response from the university administration. “They’ve created a culture of bullying. They can get away with treating pro-life students badly,” said Anastasia Pearse, western co-ordinator of the National Campus Life Network.

I’m not sure what secular leftists are learning in college, but it sure isn’t the ability to separate fair process from political correctness. If anyone disagrees with a secular leftists, then the rules don’t apply and anything can be done to stop us from exercises the same rights that everyone else gets. It’s not fair, and I fear that we need to just be more serious about whether what we are doing is going to reverse this problem of not having any influence. I recommend that each one of us not be content with a normal life. In order to fix these problems, we need to aim to have an influence.

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Vermont governor cancels single-payer health care because of costs

Reported by the Daily Signal:

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced this week he has called off his plans for single-payer health care in Vermont for 2015, saying “now is not the right time.”

At an unannounced news conference, Shumlin said he received the final modeling for financing single-payer health care on Tuesday and concluded the taxes required to fund a publicly financed system were simply unaffordable.

“As we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the legislature,” Shumlin said.

“It was clear to me that the taxes required to replace health-care premiums with a publicly financed plan that would best serve Vermont are, in a word, enormous.”

The surprise announcement, which came nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, included details that Green Mountain Care’s new-revenues requirement had ballooned to $2.6 billion — up from prior high estimates of $2.2 billion. The overall cost for Green Mountain Care’s operations and coverage is estimated at $4.3 billion.

According to Shumlin’s financing plan, paying for Green Mountain Care would require a new 11.5 percent payroll tax on all Vermont businesses plus a new sliding-scale income tax of up to 9.5 percent, based on income level and family size.

Under Shumlin’s plan, a family of four with $100,000 of income or more would pay the full 9.5 percent tax. The maximum income tax for any single household would be capped at $27,500.

At the news conference, Shumlin called single-payer “the greatest disappointment of my political life so far,” and he explained why he abandoned his signature policy initiative of the past four years.

Recall that single-payer health care is the holy grail of the left. It is a massive opportunity for vote-buying because it involves mandatory taxation for “health care” which is then doled out to patients as the government sees fit. Money from people who don’t use or need health care (e.g. – young, single men) is taken by mandatory taxation and then used to buy votes of people by making things like contraceptives, breast enlargements, sex changes, IVF, etc. into “health care”.

Canada has a single-payer system. How much does this system cost the average Canadian taxpayer?

CTV News reports on a study published by the Fraser Institute.

It says:

A typical Canadian family with two parents and two kids will pay up to $11,786 for public health care insurance this year, according to a new study from the conservative think tank Fraser Institute.

Using data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Fraser Institute study estimated the amount of taxes Canadian families will pay for public health insurance this year. The study also looked at how much the cost of public health insurance has increased over the last decade.

According to the study, Canadian families will pay on average between $3,592 to $11,786 for public health insurance in 2014, depending on the size of their family. For the purposes of their research, the study authors looked at six different family types.

The study found that over the last 10 years, the cost of public health care insurance for the average Canadian family has increased:

  • 1.5 times faster than average income
  • 1.3 times as fast as the cost of housing
  • 1.6 times as fast as clothing costs
  • More than three times as fast as the cost of food

Not only are the costs higher, but the quality is lower when measuring patient outcomes.

We should avoid this system at all costs. Free-market health care is better than government-run health care at keeping costs down. The more we reduce government control of health care, increase competition among health care providers and improve consumer choice, the lower the costs will be.

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Obama calls Ottawa, Canada terrorist attack by a Muslim “senseless violence”

Well, at least he didn’t call it “workplace violence”, like he did the attack on Fort Hood by Major Nidal Hasan.

Story from the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

A gunman who reportedly was a recent convert to Islam launched an attack Wednesday in Ottawa, killing one soldier guarding a war memorial before barging into the capital city’s Parliament amid a hail of gunfire and spawning increased vigilance in Washington and Ottawa, where officials wondered how he managed to get into the government building armed.

The Canadian soldier, identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was the second killed in three days in an attack by a young Muslim convert. A hit-and-run that left one soldier dead and another injured Monday has been deemed a terrorist attack by Canadian officials.

The Islamic State, which has seized large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, has called on Muslims to launch attacks in Western countries that have joined the U.S.-led coalition to combat the terrorists. Canadian officials said there was no evidence that the gunman had ties to Islamic extremism, but the investigation was in the early stages.

“But let there be no misunderstanding: We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a TV address to his nation.

The shooting stopped because there was an armed man on the scene:

In Ottawa on Wednesday, members of Parliament said they owed their lives to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who fatally shot the gunman just outside the caucus rooms where lawmakers were barricading themselves.

More on the Islamic terrorist:

A Canadian official identified the dead gunman as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and an Ottawa hospital said it was treating two other victims from both attacks.

[…]Mr. Harper, in his evening address, said the attacks will “lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts” to fight terrorists, work with allies and keep the country safe.

He said Monday’s attack was by an “ISIL-inspired terrorist,” and said of Wednesday’s shooting that, “in the days to come, we will learn about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.”

Zehaf-Bibeau, the gunman, had a lengthy criminal history involving convictions for drug trafficking in Montreal, robbery in Vancouver, assault and weapons offenses as well as other crimes.

He was born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall but recently converted to Islam, CBS reported.

Home-grown terrorism, from Canada’s most liberal and multicultural province.

I’m not surprised this happened in Canada – the Liberal Party was in power for years and years there, and encouraged mass immigration from the poorest countries so that people who came would vote for bigger government (the Liberal Party). They called this “multiculturalism”. The problem was that many of these poor immigrants are poor because they come from Islamic countries that don’t allow the basic freedoms and rights that are needed for a capitalist economy. When they came to Canada, they not only voted for the Liberal Party, they kept their Islamic beliefs. Nothing that they learned in the multicultural schools would have taught them that there was any need to adopt the values of the country that took them in and offered them generous social programs.

You can see more Mark Steyn from the Sun News Network.

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Burger King leaves U.S. 35% corporate tax rate for Canada’s 15% corporate tax rate

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: all your base are belong to us!

Wow, I really hate Burger King, but this latest move leaves me very confused. Maybe I have to eat there now?

The Chicago Tribune reports on it.

Excerpt:

Canada has become the latest frontier for U.S. companies fleeing the high cost of business, spurred by low corporate taxes and a policy that keeps international earnings out of the clutches of the Internal Revenue Service.

Burger King, the second-largest U.S. burger chain, agreed to acquire Oakville, Ontario-based Tim Hortons on Tuesday for about C$12.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in a deal that creates the world’s third-largest fast-food chain and moves its headquarters in Canada. It’s “not fair” that companies can renounce their U.S. citizenship by filling out paperwork, a White House spokesman said Monday.

The deal for Oakville, Ontario-based Tim Hortons follows Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ merger with Canada’s Biovail in 2010, which sparked the latest so- called tax-inversion wave.

Burger King is unlikely to be the last U.S. company to consider moving north even as President Barack Obama and his aides try to curb the practice, tax experts say. In addition to avoiding U.S. taxes on global earnings, companies like Burger King can take advantage of Canadian tax rates that have been cut by about a quarter in the past eight years.

“We have now made it a lot more attractive for companies to say Canada is a good place to set up shop,” said Jack Mintz, director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

[…]Lower corporate taxes may also be an attraction for foreign companies. Canada began cutting its federal corporate tax rate in 2001 under the previous Liberal government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper then took up the baton, dropping the rate in several steps to 15 percent in 2012. Combined with provincial rates averaging 11.5 percent, Canada’s rate of 27 percent is now the second-lowest in the Group of Seven countries behind the U.K.’s 21 percent, according to auditing and tax firm KPMG.

Canada’s combined rate is still above the 24 percent average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to the report.

Low corporate tax rates helped the country rise to second place in a Bloomberg ranking of best countries for doing business in January, behind only Hong Kong.

“We are proud that our low tax environment in Canada attracts businesses,” Carl Vallee, a spokesman for Harper, said by email on Monday.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. It warms my heart to think that corporations are moving out to Canada. And I hope they take the jobs with them, because that’s the only way people will learn to elect presidents who understand economics. Our leader is out of his depth trying to run this country, and is only able to his economic failures by borrowing trillions and trillions of dollars from our children. Anybody can appear competent if they borrow and spend that much money, but it’s a bubble, just like the housing bubble his party caused. Canada’s prime minister has a BA and MA in economics – he actually knows how economies work. We could have picked someone qualified, but we didn’t.

I fully expect Obama to whine like a little girl about this, and call Burger King “unpatriotic”. This is loser talk, because he is a loser. The limit of his knowledge of economics is that he makes snarky speeches insulting people who disagree with him. Why did we elect this stand-up comedian? Is that what a President is supposed to do?

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