The Final Minority Report

Because Even Minorities Oppose Liberalism & Statism

What’s in it for Healthcare Companies?

So what’s in it for health care companies when it comes to socialized medicine? Ask Despina D. Karras.

“An unrivaled set of abstractions and posturing,” is how a Boston University Professor of Health Policy described the announcement that health companies (insurers, providers and drug companies) have promised to enact $2 trillion in cost-cutting measures over the next 10 years.

This ceremonial commitment came on the heels of Democrat’s revealing their willingness to use reconciliation to push universal healthcare legislation through soon. While the announcement was a nice gesture, it left many of us wondering, where’s the beef? First, with no enforcement mechanism, the government cannot force the companies to follow through on their promises. And secondly, if realized, these savings wouldn’t benefit the government alone, but would also accrue to the consumers of health services. In other words, the money saved won’t be put in a big pot that the government can reach into to fund their healthcare initiatives.

So what did this announcement really mean? For example, might the President be willing to explore reforming healthcare without instituting socialized healthcare? That seems unlikely. The more likely explanation is that up until now, the major road block to providing a public, government-run health insurance has been finding a way to pay the ever increasing bill for such a Medicare-style entitlement, and the President believes that “lowering the costs of health care will complement the overall reform of the health-care system” that Congress is getting ready to take up soon.

What about the insurance companies? Why would they be willing to get on board with an administration and Congress that is set to pass legislation that could devastate, if not eliminate, their industry? The New York News Blog provides a rundown of opinions on this issue that range from believing that this group has accepted what’s coming down the pipeline and is now ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with this administration to suspecting that the industry hopes that universal healthcare will “give them a huge revenue boost in the short term – and then every lobbyist … will fight those spending reductions over the long term”.

Some examples of the cost-cutting measures offered up include making payment systems more effective, reducing administrative costs and improving technology. However, similar efforts have failed in the past, and experts say it will be difficult to squeeze that kind of savings out of these kinds of proposals.

So, the question remains, did these health companies come to the table because they wanted to be players that would help reshape healthcare as we’ve known it? One person suggested they wanted a seat at the table so as to avoid being on the menu. Yesterday’s announcement may have been long on admirable goals and short on the details as to how we get there, but one thing is for sure: this administration and Congress is intent on passing healthcare reform and soon. Yesterday’s announcement may have been unclear and may not have seemed like the game changer we expected on the surface, but with even the health companies seeming to accept government-run healthcare as inevitable, it was the first symbolic step toward socializing healthcare in America.

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05/13/2009 Posted by | Health Care, socialized medicine | | Leave a comment

Liberal Compassion in Health Care

Why does socialized medicine in the UK look so similar to the proposals to socialized medicine in the US?

BRITISH VERSION

NICE Continues To Ration Access To Kidney Cancer Medicines, Preventing Doctors From Providing The Best Possible Treatment Option For Each Patient
Article Date: 30 Apr 2009 – 1:00 PDT

Today the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announced the Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) for Nexavar® (sorafenib), Sutent® (sunitinib), Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Torisel® (temsirolimus) in advanced kidney cancer. NICE has not recommended sorafenib, bevacizumab and temsirolimus as first line treatment option for kidney cancer. Furthermore, it does not recommend sorafenib or sunitinib for second line treatment for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients.

More than 7,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year, of which 1,7001 will have the advanced form of the disease.

AMERICAN VERSION

Remember, our population is aging. And with the very, very elderly, the costs go down, so that percentage should be falling, and it’s not. Second, the cost of care is growing by so much, so at the same percentage, it’s worth a lot more. So let’s go back to the issue of comparative effectiveness, which we’re supporting. That’s where that can have a big impact. It’s not only there, but that’s where the waste is. That’s where people are using technologies that really either don’t work at all or keep people alive for for very limited [time] and [at] very high cost.

Hospice is one option, but we do need take account of the cost — you know, I hate to say it, the cost-benefit of some of the things we do. And either we can do it directly, or we can do it by bundling the payments and let the delivery system deal with it. So it’s a combination of the delivery system dealing with it, or, and/or providing more information for people to make the right decisions, both for themselves and for the care.

05/13/2009 Posted by | Health Care, socialized medicine | | Leave a comment

Pushing Socialized Medicine through Congress

While most of the world is distracted with updates on (a) the swine flu virus or (b) watching the Treasury Department incompetently keeping track of all the money that is being spent, Democrats have used this distraction to push socialized medicine through Congress using the reconciliation process (requires only a simple majority).

Piece of $hit!!!

From the Kaiser Foundation:

Capitol Hill Watch | Democrats Reach Tentative Agreement on Using Reconciliation Process To Fast-Track Obama’s Health Care Proposal
[Apr 27, 2009]

Congressional Democrats have tentatively agreed to include reconciliation language in the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution (H Con Res 85, S Con Res 13) to advance health care reform legislation, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, the use of reconciliation “would make it far easier to pass” health care reform legislation compared with attempting to reach a bipartisan agreement (Montgomery/Paley, Washington Post, 4/25).

The New York Times reports that using reconciliation to advance health care reform legislation reflects the importance President Obama places on health care reform. According to the Times, Obama’s preference for reconciliation indicates he likely will be unwilling to compromise on health care legislation, “even if it means a bitter partisan fight” (Hulse, New York Times, 4/25).

According to Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the resolution would instruct congressional committees with authority over health care to produce a reconciliation bill by Oct. 15 (Washington Post, 4/25). However, if a bipartisan bill can be reached before that date, lawmakers will work to pass that measure, according to the Times. Conrad said, “Virtually everyone who has been part of these discussions recognizes that reconciliation is not the preferred way to write this legislation,” but “the administration wants to have a reconciliation instruction as an insurance policy” (New York Times, 4/25).

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he will push to complete a bipartisan bill before the Oct. 15 deadline (Washington Post, 4/25). Baucus on Friday said that he would prefer not to use reconciliation, adding that his goal is to produce a health care bill that could “get significantly more than 60 votes” (New York Times, 4/25). Baucus said, “When you jam something down somebody’s throat, it’s not sustainable,” adding, “I want something that will last” (Taylor, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/26).

The compromise resolution caps spending at $10 billion less than requested by Obama. In addition, the resolution would stop for two years scheduled cuts to Medicare physicians’ fees (Clarke/Conlon, CQ Today, 4/24).

Republican Reaction
Congressional Republican leaders, who have been opposed to reconciliation, say that health care is too important to be passed with only a simple majority (New York Times, 4/25). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the inclusion of reconciliation language in the compromise resolution “would make it absolutely clear [that Democrats] intend to carry out their plans on a purely partisan basis” (Washington Post, 4/25).

Congressional Republicans have said that if reconciliation is used to restrict a filibuster on health care, they also will use procedural tools to prevent the passage of the resolution. Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said, “The floor of the Senate will become a very untidy place if they start using reconciliation for major policy” (New York Times, 4/25).

Prospects
The budget resolution conference committee is scheduled to meet Monday to finalize a compromise bill. If a deal is agreed upon by the conferees, the resolution would move to both chambers for their respective approval (Washington Post, 4/25). House Democratic leaders hope to pass the compromise resolution on Tuesday, followed by Senate approval on Wednesday — Obama’s 100th day in office (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/26).

Once the compromise resolution is approved, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Committee will begin work on the 12 appropriations bills that comprise the budget. Obama is scheduled to release final details of his budget proposal by the week of May 4. The House Appropriations Committee likely will begin marking up the 12 bills in late May or early June (Clarke, CQ Today, 4/24).

Comments
Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and executive director of the Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, said that reconciliation might make it more likely that several controversial Democratic health care priorities end up in the final bill, including the creation of a public health plan option and limits on Medicare Advantage plans. However, reconciliation also substantially increases the likelihood that the White House will be successful in passing a significant health care bill, according to Rowland. She said, “It may not be the most effective way to build bipartisan consensus. It may be the most effective way to get such a large bill passed” (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 4/25).

Richard Kirsch, president of Health Care for America Now, said, “It’s an incredibly important moment,” adding, “It changes the whole dynamic because it allows Democratic leadership to stand fast on the fundamentals of reform that they think and we think are necessary to make change work” (Wangsness, Boston Globe, 4/25). He said, “We cannot do the kind of reform that meets the needs if it’s held hostage to people who don’t have a vision for broad reform” (Washington Post, 4/25).

Opinion Piece
The decision by Obama and congressional Democrats to use budget reconciliation if necessary to pass health care reform legislation “is a deeply troublesome attempt to circumvent the normal and customary workings of American democracy,” Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Sununu continues, “It’s a radical departure from congressional precedent” as the procedure “was never intended to push through dramatic and expansive new programs.” He writes that using reconciliation “promises bitter divisiveness under an administration that has made repeated promises to reach across the partisan divide” and “destroys any incentive for good-faith negotiations over the details between the Democrats and Republicans” (Sununu, Wall Street Journal, 4/27).

04/28/2009 Posted by | Government Debt, Liberal Business | | 1 Comment