Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heritage: The Rationer-in-Chief

When Linda O’Boyle was diagnosed with bowel cancer, her doctors told her she could boost her chances of survival by adding the drug cetuximab to her regimen. But the rationing body for Britain's National Health Service, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), had previously ruled that the drug was not cost-effective and therefore would not be paid for by the government. So O'Boyle liquidated her savings and paid for the drug herself. But this is not allowed under NHS rules. When government bureaucrats found out that O'Boyle had purchased the drug with her own money, she was denied NHS treatment and died within months.

Defenders of Britain's health care rationing system may try to claim that this tragic death is an outlier in an otherwise acceptable government run health care system. They are wrong. It is the point of the system. As socialized medicine and infanticide advocate Peter Singer has argued in The New York Times, the NICE bureaucrats must ration care or else free government health care would bankrupt the British economy. "NICE had set a general limit of £30,000, or about $49,000, on the cost of extending life for a year," Singer writes. Following this logic, Singer supported NICE's decision not to allow British citizens the kidney cancer fighting drug Sutent. As a result of this, and many other rationing decisions Britain, has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in the Western world. While 60.3% of men and 61.7% of women in Sweden survive a cancer diagnosis, in Britain the figure ranges between 40.2% to 48.1% for men and 48% to 54.1% for women. And NICE's rationing has not just hit cancer patients. Doctors have warned that patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under the NHS rationing scheme. And according to the Patients Association, one million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain.

Most Americans would find this harrowing. But not President Barack Obama. Yesterday he bypassed the Senate confirmation process and used a recess appointment to install Dr. Donald Berwick to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS is the agency that runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs). Dr. Berwick said of Britain's health care system: "Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it." And his love for Britain's health care system is not in spite of its rationing, but because of it. In 2009 Dr. Berwick told Biotechnology Healthcare: "NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious and valuable knowledge-building system. ... The decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."

The fact that the White House chose to empower Dr. Berwick by recess appointment is particularly audacious. The recess appointment power was intended to be used for occasions when the Senate is out for moths at a time. The Senate is currently out of session for just 11 days. Worse, the Senate majority has never even scheduled a hearing so that Dr. Berwick's rationing views could be given an "open" forum. In fact, Dr. Berwick has not even returned Senators' written questionnaires. The White House defends the move by claiming "there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing." But then why did the Obama administration wait until April 2010, a full 15 months after President Obama was sworn into office, to nominate Dr. Berwick? Is it because they did not want Dr. Berwick's well known and public support for rationing health care to affect the debate over Obamacare?

In a 2005 interview with Health Affairs, Dr. Berwick said: "(G)overnment is an extraordinarily important player in the American health care scene, and it has inescapable duties with respect to improvement of care, or we're not going to get improved care. Government remains a major purchaser. ... So as CMS goes and as Medicaid goes, so goes the system." And that was before Obamacare gave far reaching new powers to government bureaucrats.

In June of 2009, President Obama told the American Medical Association that “identifying what works is not about dictating what kind of care should be provided.” Moreover, the president has assured the public time and again that the government will not get between patients and their doctors. His nomination of Don Berwick for Director of CMS, however, tells a different story.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Governor who linked Christians,violence is latest Obama pick

President Obama has picked to advise him on military actions inside the U.S. the Missouri governor whose state "Information Analysis Center" last year linked conservative organizations to domestic terrorism and said law enforcement officers should watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers from Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin.
Find out the latest right now on

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gary Bauer: Hypocritical Outrage

Yesterday (1/14/10), President Obama went on the attack against two favorite enemies – corporate greed and Wall Street. Obama stepped up his rhetoric against banks and financial firms, attacking large salaries and bonuses yet again and proposing a new bank fee. The president’s revisionist history regarding the cause of the financial crisis was astonishing. It was matched only by his over-the-top pitchfork populism. Here’s a sample:

“We want our money back, and we’re going to get it. And that’s why I’m proposing a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee to be imposed on major financial firms until the American people are fully compensated for the extraordinary assistance they provided to Wall Street. If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers.”

The deception is breathtaking! Sure a number of big banks got bailouts, but most have repaid those loans with interest. And those still in debt to Uncle Sam are answering to the “pay czar,” who is capping salaries and bonuses. Most of the money owed to the American people is owed by the unions for the takeover of General Motors and Chrysler. But instead the president wants to pick winners and losers. The winners are his union buddies, and the losers are now-profitable banks.

But if the president is so upset about extravagant pay and bonuses and so committed to protecting the taxpayer, where is his outrage at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The president is so concerned about the $120 billion shortfall in the TARP program, but Fannie and Freddie have put the taxpayers on the hook for $2 trillion. Meanwhile, the top executives at these government-run outfits are getting $42 million in compensation, with bonuses of $2 million!

I’m pleased to report that 70 conservative members of Congress are demanding that the administration hold executives at Fannie and Freddie to the same standard to which they hold other private firms. But don’t hold your breath. Over the years, Fannie and Freddie executives have been major donors to liberal candidates (with Barack Obama being one of their top beneficiaries), and they have been run by well-connected liberals like Rahm Emanuel and Franklin Raines.

Rather than intimidating and investigating Big Business, we need to stop punishing success, stop picking winners and losers and start investigating Big Government!

The Injustice Of ObamaCare -- Update

Speaking of picking winners and losers, yesterday we reported that the White House and congressional liberals had struck a deal with Big Labor to exempt union health insurance benefits from the excessive 40% excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans. This exemption will theoretically expire in 2018, but if union allies happen to be in power in eight years, they’ll just renew the exemption. This is a brazen effort to increase pressure on workers to join unions so they will pay less taxes.

This may have solved a political problem in terms of getting liberal votes, but it has created another big budget problem. The exemption reportedly creates a $60 billion funding gap, and that money will have to come from somewhere. Big Labor is the clear winner in this backroom deal. But who are the losers – those who will have to pay higher taxes so the unions don’t? That’s yet to be determined.