This post, per the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on health-care reform. Obama is pushing onward with his plan to create a single-payer, universal health care system, despite the fact that WE HAVE NO MONEY. That’s okay; they’re going to start taxing soda. And all sorts of other things.
Anyway, the speaker at this hearing, Brandeis University’s Professor Stuart Altman said this (my emphasis):
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.
Read: Sayonara, Grandma.
This is not difficult. If the state controls the resources, the state will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the decisions that are made regarding your treatment (or lack of treatment.) Health care facilities will make decisions based on what is good for them, not what’s good (and life-saving) for you. When choices are restricted, rationing follows. In the free market, patients are able to choose for themselves the cost-effectiveness of treatments sought, and the market responds accordingly by having incentives to produce that care. If we adopt the the single-payer system (like the UK and Canada, for instance) you will no longer be in control of the decisions you make regarding your health care.
As Ed Morrissey puts it:
What happens when the state controls all the resources? New resources do not develop, and the government winds up rationing care based on its own priorities, and not the priorities of the patients or caregivers. Professor Altman’s suggestion that the elderly get hospice treatment to save scarce care resources is exactly the kind of decisions the state will make for its citizens, and it won’t be limited to the elderly, either. Anyone whose value does not show a positive “cost-benefit” ratio to the state will also likely wind up without the kind of care necessary to stay alive and healthy.
Progressives who back this plan get offended that people with more resources can get better care, just as they can get better housing, better food, and better entertainment, among many other things. Like in all other arenas, their prescription for equality of result will mean that everyone gets treated equally poorly, and that we will eventually start culling out the weak in favor of the strong. We’ve essentially returned to the eugenics arguments of the early 20th century, a dark period of human history we should be avoiding rather than embracing on the floor of the Senate.
This will not be limited to the elderly. It will extend to the very young, as well. Also those with chronic conditions, or those with bad “lifestyle habits.” Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Have diabetes? You will not be considered cost-effective.
And, if all this has sunk you into a deep depression, watch this to cheer up: