Posts Tagged ‘single-payer’
July 13th, 2018 at 9:37 am
The Price and Importance of Innovation

America’s pharmaceutical innovators lead the world, saving and improving people’s lives on a daily basis.  But relentless efforts to move toward a single-payer system and impose destructive price controls threaten our continuing progress.

Drug maker Biogen recently announced exciting results of a clinical trial for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, despite the promise that this could be a breakthrough that gets us closer to a cure, the medical community and families with loved ones suffering from the disease are holding their collective breath.

Why? Because we’ve been down this road before.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most complex and pernicious medical conditions that we face, with no known cure and an immense emotional and economic toll. Worse, the rate of diagnosis is increasing and estimates suggest the cost of the disease has already surpassed $259 billion.  According to one Alzheimer’s Association spokesperson, it will “bankrupt Medicare.” By 2050, the cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients could exceed $1 trillion annually.

That is a crisis medical professionals are rushing to solve, but progress has been slow. An estimated 99.6 percent of Alzheimer’s drug “candidates” (i.e. experimental drugs designed to treat Alzheimer’s) fail.

In 2018 alone, high profile failures in Phase 3 clinical trials from drug makers like Eli Lilly and Merck represent decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars in research yielding little to no results. Even Biogen’s announcement, as promising as it is, has only a 50 percent chance of gaining FDA approval, according to analysts.

The issue of high drug prices is real, but too often the public doesn’t understand the immense risk – and cost pharmaceutical companies take on to research and develop new treatments for devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s. While everyone hopes Biogen’s new drug is a success, many drugs – including many recent potential treatments for Alzheimer’s – never make it through the clinical trials to market. What’s worse, the lack of transparency in our health care payment system drives costs up even further.

Drug makers invest hundreds of millions of dollars and more into developing new treatments and cures, with no guarantees their research and development will yield results.  That risk must be protected to ensure the continued motivation to strive for better treatments and new cures.

Efforts to cap prices and leverage government buying power via a single-payer system threaten to curtail research and delay or eliminate future cures. It’s a gamble that the United States cannot make, both for our own health and for future generations.

December 18th, 2014 at 11:06 am
Citing Costs, Vermont Shelves Single Payer Health System

Vermont will not push forward with its plan to launch a state-based single payer health care system in 2017, reports the Daily Caller.

Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin made the announcement on Wednesday, citing several factors.

Among the most important were changes in financing assumptions. Vermont had been counting on infusions of federal funding to buoy the program, but confirmed that it overshot its estimates by a whopping $311 million. Without the expected seed money of federal tax dollars there’s not enough start-up capital needed to get the project going.

The other blow to Vermont’s single payer scheme – to be called Green Mountain Care – is its lack of financial sustainability. In order to make the enterprise successful, Vermont would need to levy tax hikes like an 11.5 percent payroll tax and an income tax up to 9.5 percent. Those changes would likely kill business development in the state, eroding the tax base necessary to pay for Green Mountain Care.

Though the time, money and effort poured into this failed experiment have been costly, it will hopefully serve as a reality check for government officials to abandon the impossible and instead focus on implementing tangible policies that can improve lives now.

March 14th, 2014 at 9:16 am
Podcast: ObamaCare from the Eyes of a Canadian Healthcare Refugee
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Shona Holmes, a leading patients’ rights advocate who fled Canada to seek life-saving medical treatment in the United States, discusses how universal health care does not end suffering, it just redistributes it, and how access to health insurance does not equal access to healthcare.

Listen to the interview here.

January 17th, 2014 at 8:57 am
Video: The Single-Payer Lie
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino explains that ObamaCare is failing not because its authors are  leftist geniuses who concocted some deliberate scheme to impose a national single-payer healthcare system, but because it fails to recognize the basic truths of American government.

January 8th, 2014 at 3:20 pm
Vermont Wants 49 Other States to Fund Its State-Run Single-Payer System

Vermont is ready to start the first state-run single-payer system in the United States. There’s just one hitch: It needs federal taxpayers to foot the bill.

A state law passed in 2011 intends to create a state-run entity that “would largely sideline the insurance industry, and instead set up a government-managed system to collect all health care fees and pay out all health care costs,” reports Fox News.

But apparently, a program whose supporters estimate will save Vermont citizens a total of $1.9 billion from 2017-19 isn’t financially viable unless taxpayers living in the other 49 states chip in.

“In order for Green Mountain Care to fully launch in 2017, the health care exchange would have to get approval from the federal government to use federal money to fund the state program,” says the report.

It’s not clear from the article whether the federal money needed comes from Obamacare insurance subsidies or Medicaid (probably the former), but either way people living outside Vermont must fund a program that won’t benefit them, so that Green Mountain residents can live in a liberal utopia.

Simply put, if a majority of Vermont voters want to have a state-run single-payer system, they should raise their own taxes to the level necessary to pay for it.

January 8th, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Turning ObamaCare’s Failures into a Mandate for Single-Payer

Yesterday, Noam Scheiber of the New Republic defended Obamacare’s failings as a Machiavellian way for liberals to generate public support for even more government control of health care, eventually leading to the creation of a federally-run single-payer system.

“…the law created potentially millions of hard-working Americans who will have some health insurance; just maddeningly insufficient health insurance,” writes Scheiber. “What are the chances politicians stand up and take notice when these Americans complain?”

Fear not fellow liberals, says Scheiber, Obamacare’s disastrous rollout isn’t all bad news. “When you look at the big picture, the underlying political logic is clearly toward more generous, more comprehensive insurance, the natural upshot of cataloguing the law’s shortcomings isn’t to give them less insurance… It’s to give them more.”

In other words, Obamacare can be seen as a two-step process toward a federally-controlled national health system. First, individuals and employees are severed from their current insurance plans. Then, when they see how insufficient are the subsidies in paying for the government’s mandated coverage options, people will demand more money. The end result is having the feds pick up the entire bill as governments do in countries with socialized medicine.

A messy way to get what liberals want? Yes. But it’s worth the cost to pundits like Scheiber if in the end the liberal dream of nationalized health care becomes a reality.

December 5th, 2013 at 2:23 pm
From Romneycare to Single-Payer in Massachusetts?

The Obama administration’s former chief of Medicare and Medicaid is running for Governor of Massachusetts, and hints that his goal is to turn Romneycare into a single-payer system.

“It is time to seriously explore the possibility of a single payer system in Massachusetts,” declares Donald Berwick’s campaign website. (Emphasis in the original) “I will work with the Legislature [to] assemble a multi-stakeholder Single Payer Advisory Panel to investigate and report back within one year on whether and how Massachusetts should consider a single payer option.”

Along with achieving this goal, Berwick makes a series of other promises that seem breathtaking when one considers the amount of information, oversight and control necessary to fulfill them. Again, all bolded words appear the same way on the site.

·    I will personally lead a statewide initiative to make Massachusetts the healthiest state in the nation, through smoking cessation, obesity prevention and reduction, and specific programs to curb domestic and physical violence.
·    We will stop the obesity epidemic in Massachusetts.
·    We will reduce substance abuse and suicide rates by 50% in Massachusetts in the next decade.
·    Massachusetts will be the national leader in patient safety.

I do not dispute that Americans in general – and apparently Massachusetts in particular – are suffering from very serious problems like obesity, substance abuse and suicide, along with all the ancillary problems that follow in their wake. But how is it sensible to assume, as Berwick’s manifesto does, that politicians can solve these deeply personal problems – abetted by a nihilistic culture – through bureaucratic fiat?

Moreover, who is going to pay for all this? Nowhere does Berwick mention the massive increases in state spending his plan implicitly calls for, since Massachusetts will now need an army of public employees to collect data, push ad campaigns and fine or penalize those who don’t change their behavior.

Joshua Archambault outlines other problems with Berwick’s platform, among them the myriad technical difficulties facing a state trying to operate a stand-alone single-payer system.

Berwick is no shoe-in to win the Democratic nomination for governor, but his ideas about single-payer are gaining ground in Massachusetts politics. As Archambault notes, 20% of the state’s heavily Democratic state senate are on record as supporting a single-payer system. That’s not surprising since the Bay State was the first to impose a health insurance mandate on individuals in 2006. As costs have grown, so have calls for more government control.

It bears remembering that President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that Romneycare was a model for Obamacare. If Berwick’s ideas manage to transform the former into a single-payer system, national health care policy may soon have a new maxim: As goes Massachusetts, so goes the nation.

October 7th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Britain’s Version of ‘Death Panels’

In a wide-ranging indictment of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Philip Klein describes just how easy it is for government-run health care to turn into a nightmare.

“One of the most recent scandals has its roots in the 1990s, when the NHS established a set of best practices for providing care to patients at the end of their lives. Known as the Liverpool Care Pathway, it has since been applied to hundreds of thousands of people,” writes Klein.

“Last November, the Mail reported, an independent review found that 60,000 people were put on the pathway without their consent and a third of the time families weren’t even informed. Thus, they had no idea that their close relatives were removed from life support equipment and were being denied nourishment. In extreme cases, nurses shouted at relatives who attempted to give their dying loved ones sips of water. According to the Mail, hospitals were given incentive payments for putting more people on the pathway – effectively, the government was providing bonuses for ending people’s lives earlier.” (Emphasis added)

After a huge outcry, NHS is abandoning the Liverpool Care Pathway, admitting that “Caring for the dying must never again be practiced as a tick-box exercise and each patient must be cared for according to their individual needs.”

This is welcome news for those saved from murder, but it is cold comfort for the 60,000 Britons who were intentionally killed by their caregiver.

As this example from the world’s most famous single-payer health system attests, death panels are a logical extension of government-run health care. Cost-benefit calculations can easily be made to discard individuals for the sake of the faceless collective; especially when the doctor, the actuary, and the bean counter all work for the same government.

Interestingly, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) didn’t mention any of the horrors Klein catalogues in his op-ed to Britons explaining why Obamacare is a “good first step” toward a single-payer system like NHS.

No wonder.

March 1st, 2011 at 6:28 pm
Obama Makes Phony Concessions on Health Care Implementation
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Over at The Corner, the incomparable Yuval Levin has a great explainer on why President Obama’s accomodationist tone on health care in yesterday’s White House speech to the National Governors Association was a headfake. He notes:

Speaking to a group of governors yesterday, the president said he would support legislation that would allow states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s requirements (including the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the state exchanges) if they show they can achieve exactly the same results in some other way. Obamacare itself actually already contains such a provision, but it would allow states to apply for such waivers starting in 2017—after these mandates and requirements have been in place for three years. Obama now says he would let states apply for waivers in 2014, when the new rules begin.

This change of heart, like the one regarding the CLASS Act, is a concession to the fact that the law’s requirements are understood by many state officials (of both parties) as immensely burdensome and problematic. But like the one regarding the CLASS Act, it is also not an actual concession in practice. The states would be required to show that their alternative policies would provide the same or greater insurance benefits to the same or greater number of people, presumably as assessed by HHS. So it allows no flexibility regarding ends, and therefore very little flexibility regarding means. In fact, while it would allow conservative-leaning governors essentially no freedom to move in the direction of greater competition and more consumer-driven health care (which conservatives tend to see as the actual path to reducing costs and therefore insuring more people while improving quality) it would give liberal-leaning governors significant freedom to move in the direction of more government control. Indeed, as the New York Times notes today, while the approach Obama supports would not allow for many consumer-driven reforms it “might allow interested states to establish a single-payer system in which the government is the sole insurer.”
Leave it to Barack Obama to think that the road to the political center runs through making it easier to establish single-payer health care. And leave it to the American people to disabuse him of that notion.
August 25th, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Government-Run = Trouble Free?
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Many Obamacare proponents paint a government-run or single-payer system as some Utopian endgame for health care.   It’s not.  The same debate that takes place here rages overseas as well.

Tuning in to the Prime Minister’s Question Hour is a good way to appreciate (in addition to the unintended hilarity) how a government-run system doesn’t end the debate, it merely changes it.   Instead of asking questions about universal coverage, complaints arise over seniors being denied care because the government offered care to younger patients.

This article from the UK’s Liberal Democratic Party is illustrative:

“When doctors at that hospital have confirmed that they were instructed by their managers to abandon seriously ill patients and to treat people with minor ailments instead in order to meet the Prime Minister’s targets, it is not enough to talk of reviews, inquiries and to blame other people. Will he scrap the mad targets that make hospitals tick boxes rather than look after the desperately ill?”

Full article is here.  Remember, putting Uncle Sam in charge typically raises the cost, reduces efficiency, and introduces severe unintended consequences: see Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Cash for Clunkers, AMTRAK, etc., etc…

August 19th, 2009 at 12:22 pm
Public Option/Co-ops Will Lead to Single-Payer
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