The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, July 27, 2009


One of the things that worries me about President Obama is that his eloquence often masks the flaws in his stated policies and causes many to overlook the exaggerations that often creep into his statements. His promises are so heartfelt (or so it seems) that we have little choice but to believe them.

And yet, if you dig a little deeper and look past the rhetoric, problems begin to surface.

Over the past few months, the Obama administration and its many, many supporters in the media have argued that health care “reform” is what current proposed legislation is all about. Who can argue? There’s little question that reform is required.

Robert Samuelson addresses this issue:
The most misused word in the health care debate is "reform." Everyone wants "reform," but what constitutes "reform" is another matter. If you listen to President Obama, his "reform" will satisfy almost everyone. It will insure the uninsured, control runaway health spending, subdue future budget deficits, preserve choice for patients and improve quality of care. These claims are self-serving exaggerations and political fantasies. They have destroyed what should be a serious national discussion of health care.

The health care conundrum involves a contradiction that the administration steadfastly obscures: In the short run -- meaning four to eight years -- government cannot both insure the uninsured and rein in health spending. Here's why. The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: They now receive about 50 percent to 70 percent of the health care of the insured. If they become insured, their health care would rise toward 100 percent; that would increase both government and private health spending, depending on how the insurance is provided.

The “uninsured” lie at the heart of the problem. But the number of uninsured bandied about by the administration and parroted without critical assessment by the media requires some examination.

In one of the best discussions of the current health care situation that I’ve seen on the Web, Dr. Bala Ambati (hat tip: The Belmont Club) dissects the current debate and offers solutions that seem to elude many of the children in Congress. Of the “uninsured” he writes:
On the 47 million people without health insurance point, that too is a statistic where there is less than meets the eye. First, health insurance does not equal health care (there are not just emergency rooms but cash-based clinics, and conversely, a lot of people with insurance don’t get good health care). Second, of that 47 million, 14 million are already eligible for existing programs (Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, SCHIP) yet have not enrolled, 9.7 million are not citizens, 9.1 million have household incomes over $75,000 and could but choose not to purchase insurance, and somewhere between 3 and 5 million are uninsured briefly(<2 months) between jobs. That leaves about 10 million Americans who are chronically without insurance. Needless to say, extending the blanket of coverage to this group should not cost $1.5 trillion and require a wholesale overhaul of all of medicine.

Dr. Ambati proposes an eight point program (read it as his site) that is practical and more important, will not bankrupt the country. The only problem is that it threatens the Democratic majority’s favored interests.

For example, Ambati suggests that tort reform in the medical arena could save tens of billions annually in unnecessary tests and exorbitant insurance costs that are passed directly to the consumer. But the trial lawyers are among the Democrats biggest contributors. He argues that “Eliminating television and direct to consumer pharmaceutical marketing” could save almost $60 billion annually (just about as much as big pharma spends on R&D) and allow doctors to prescribe older, cheaper but no less effective medications.But big pharma contributes heavily to Congress bloated campaign funds.

There are solutions to health care. A lone physician outlines a workable strategy in a few pages. Sadly, rather than proposing something that might actually work, the Congressional majority and our President would prefer to make empty promises.