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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Obama said Obamacare would not add to the deficit, CBO says it adds $1.35 trillion

In the video above, Obama promised the American people that his health care plan would not add one dime to the deficit. And the low-information voters who voted for him believed him. Just like they believed that they could keep their doctor, that they could keep their health care plan, that Obamacare would lower the costs of health care, that Benghazi was caused by a YouTube video, and so on.

So how much did Obamacare add to the deficit?

The UK Daily Mail has the latest numbers from the Congressional Budget Office.

Truth:

It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.

The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization’s new ten-year budget outlook.

The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

The numbers are daunting: It will take $1.993 trillion, a number that looks like $1,993,000,000,000, to provide insurance subsidies to poor and middle-class Americans, and to pay for a massive expansion of Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) costs.

Offsetting that massive outlay will be $643 billion in new taxes, penalties and fees related to the Obamacare law.

That revenue includes quickly escalating penalties – or ‘taxes,’ as the U.S. Supreme Court described them – on people who resist Washington’s command to buy medical insurance.

It also includes income from a controversial medical device tax, which some Republicans predict will be eliminated in the next two years.

If they’re right, Obamacare’s per-person cost would be even higher.

Did Obama know that he was lying when he said that his health care plan would not add one dime to the deficit?

Well, his buddy Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, certainly did:

But we should not be surprised, either by the low intelligence levels of Democrat voters or by the lies of Democrat politicians. After all, they want single payer health care – look what Harry Reid says:

“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.

When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”

And they know – from looking up North to Canada – that single-payer health care will necessarily involve massive increases in taxes.

CTV News describes a recent study on the costs of single-payer health care in Canada:

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.

What do you get for $11,786?

You get to be on a waiting list for a primary care physician, and you get to wait months for treatment. You can pay taxes your whole life, and then wait behind people who want sex changes – people who have never paid a dime into the system. And sometimes, you die while waiting for treatment. That’s “fairness” and “equality”. And that’s where the Democrats want to take us.

Remember when Obama said that we could keep our health care plans and our doctors?:

Democrats voters looked at this man, and they just knew – without any studies or any evidence – that he was telling the truth.

But the Congressional Budget Office says that TEN MILLION people will lose their employer health plans under Obama by 2021.

Look:

The Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare will push 10 million off employer-based coverage, a tenfold increase from its initial projection. The “keep your plan” lie just gets bigger and bigger.

The latest CBO report is supposed to be a big win for the Obama administration because the projected costs are 20% below what the CBO first projected in 2010.

But the CBO report also shows that ObamaCare will be far more disruptive to the employer-based insurance market, while being far less effective at cutting the ranks of the uninsured, than promised.

Thanks to ObamaCare, the CBO now expects that 10 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage by 2021.

This is in addition to the FOUR MILLION who already lost their health care plans in 2013.

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FDA now allowing gay men to donate blood

This is from the Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

The FDA will seek to change the ban on gay men’s blood, so long as the donor hasn’t had sexual contact in the last year.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a science-based regulatory agency that works to protect and promote the public health. In this role, it is our responsibility to regulate the blood supply and to help ensure its continued safety for the patients who receive these life-saving products,” announces FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.

Over the past several years, in collaboration with other government agencies, the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men, including the results of several recently completed scientific studies and recent epidemiologic data. Following this review, and taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.

This recommended change is consistent with the recommendation of an independent expert advisory panel the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, and will better align the deferral period with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection. Additionally, in collaboration with the NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the FDA has already taken steps to implement a national blood surveillance system that will help the agency monitor the effect of a policy change and further help to ensure the continued safety of the blood supply.

Here’s a story from the CBC about how the blood supply became tainted in Canada. (H/T Patriactionary)

Why is this a problem? Well, gay men are at a much higher risk for HIV, and other sexually-transmitted infections. The CDC released this report about the elevated risks posed by this lifestyle.

The write:

Sixty-two percent of American men who know they are HIV positive continue to have unprotected anal sex, according to data released last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

This data, which was published Friday, came from the federal government’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System.

The percentage of self-aware HIV-positive men who engage in unprotected anal sex has been increasing, according to the CDC. In 2005, 55 percent did so. In 2008, 57 percent did so. And, in 2011, 62 percent did so.

“Unprotected anal sex is a high-risk practice for HIV infection, with receptive anal sex having the highest risk,” said the CDC report. “Unprotected anal sex also places MSM at risk for other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Although condoms can reduce the risk for HIV transmission, they do not eliminate risk and often are not used consistently. Some MSM attempt to decrease their HIV risk by engaging in unprotected sex only with partners perceived to have the same HIV status as their own. However, this practice is risky, especially for HIV-negative MSM, because MSM with HIV might not know or disclose that they are infected and men’s assumptions about the HIV status of their partners can be wrong.”

And in another report:

Teens and young adults now account for more than a quarter of the new cases of HIV identified in the United States annually, and a clear majority of those cases involve young gay or bisexual men, the federal government said in a major new survey Tuesday.

Of the nearly 48,000 new HIV cases identified in the United States in 2010, the latest year for which complete data are available, more than 12,000 involved teens and young adults, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found in its latest report.

About 72 percent of these new HIV cases in younger adults occurred in young men who are gay or bisexual, according to the CDC report.

[…]According to the CDC figures, black youths accounted for the largest share of new HIV cases, with Hispanic youths and white youths accounting for about 20 percent each.

About 1.1 million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States. Some 47,129 new HIV cases were identified in 2010.

The CDC’s new report, “Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, Risk Behaviors Among Youths, United States,” estimated that youths aged 13 to 24 accounted for 12,200, or 26 percent, of new HIV infections in 2010.

But, this is what we get when we elect a government that is more in service to ideas of “equality”, “diversity” and “non-discrimination” than common sense. It would be nice to think that the only people who will suffer from this decision are Democrats, but that’s not the way it works.Everyone suffers when we elect people who are led by emotional ideology (the vision of the anointed, as Thomas Sowell calls it) instead of reason and evidence. We get to be the test subjects of their little experiments.

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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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Since Obamacare passed, record number of Americans delaying treatment

Story from the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

One in three Americans has put off seeking medical treatment in 2014 due to high costs, according to Gallup — the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.

Thirty-three percent of Americans have delayed medical treatment for themselves or their families because of the costs they’d have to pay, according to the survey. Obamacare, of course, had promised that it would help make health care more affordable for everyone, but the number of people who can’t afford a trip to the doctor has actually risen three points since 2013, before most Obamacare provisions took effect.

The hardest-hit: the middle-class. Americans with an annual household income of between $30,000 and $75,000 began delaying medical care over costs more in 2014, up to 38 percent in 2014 from 33 percent last year; among households that earn above $75,000, 28 percent delayed care this year, compared to just 17 percent last year.

The lowest-income section, some of whom can take part in Medicaid and who are more likely to qualify for significant premium and cost-sharing subsidies on an Obamacare exchange, are less likely to delay care this year. Now, 35 percent of those who earn under $30,000 a year are putting off seeking medical care, down from 43 percent last year.

It’s a remarkable shift: after Obamacare’s redistribution of wealth, the middle class is actually delaying medical care due to high costs at a higher rate than the poorest section of the country, which is highly subsidized by taxpayers.

The growing problem could have serious consequences for the middle-class. Twice as many people (22 percent) have delayed treatment for serious illnesses than than for smaller problems (11 percent).

Part of the problem is an ongoing shift towards higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, while health insurance premiums continue to rise all the same. The trend, which existed to some extent before Obamacare, increased in intensity with the onset of the health-care law.

When Obama talked about spreading the wealth around, people in the middle class thought that they would be the recipients of the spreading. But that’s not true – the wealth is coming from you, not going to you. It was never designed to reduced the costs of health care, it was designed to equalize life outcomes regardless of personal choices, by redistributing wealth.

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