Take a second to imagine that you – or maybe your child or your parent or your spouse – are really sick.
You don’t know what’s wrong. All you know is that you’re terrified. That you’re in severe pain. That you could – for all intents and purposes – be dying.
So you head to the hospital, to see a physician. A doctor with years of education and training and – if he doesn’t have years of experience – dozens of colleagues with hundreds of years of experience among them. A physician who is concerned solely with diagnosing your problem and finding out the best possible way to resolve it.
Now, let me ask you this…
Do you want that physician to decide what tests to perform? What prescriptions to offer you? What treatment to order?
Or would you rather hand over those responsibilities to a few men and women in another state, who’ve never met you, who have (probably) no medical education or experience, who don’t know your particular problem, who’ve never met your doctor or even (probably) set foot in your hospital or doctor’s office?
Think about that for a second.
Then read this excerpt from an article by Senator Ted Kennedy and co-author Bob Shrum:
We also need to move from a system that rewards doctors for the sheer volume of tests and treatments they prescribe to one that rewards quality and positive outcomes. For example, in Medicare today, 18 percent of patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days–at a cost of more than $15 billion in 2005. Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don’t reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we’ll save billions of dollars while improving the quality of care for patients.
In an editorial for the Washington Examiner, William Kristol addresses Senator Kennedy’s statement above.
I think his response it succinct. It’s clear. And it gets to the bottom of what Kennedy is saying.
Here’s part of what Kristol had to say (you can read the full article here):
…the most important implication of the Kennedy-Shrum claim–“Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don’t reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we’ll save billions of dollars.”–is this: The government is going to decide–ahead of time, obviously, since deciding after the fact wouldn’t save any money; and based on certain general criteria, since the government isn’t going to review each individual case–what kinds of hospital readmissions for the elderly are “unnecessary” and what kinds aren’t. And it’s going to set up a system “to reward hospitals and doctors for preventing” the unnecessary ones. That is, the government will reward hospitals and doctors for denying care they now provide, care the government will now deem “unnecessary.”
Indeed, this understates the case. For in reality the government isn’t going simply to reward “good” and penalize “bad” admissions. It’s going to prevent insurance companies from paying for “unnecessary” admissions and procedures, if those companies want to participate in the government system. In other words, government bureaucrats are going to deem entire categories of treatment inefficient for all or certain categories of patients, and put those treatments out of bounds for doctors and hospitals.
Listen, I really don’t like politics. Nor do I “have a mind” for politics, either. But Kennedy’s words and the whole healthcare tumult that’s occurring right now have freaked me out enough that I thought it would be pertinent to at least post these paragraphs here… to get anyone who’s reading this to at least consider the implications of letting our government get too involved in our healthcare system.
And I KNOW that our existing healthcare system is seriously effed up. It needs to be reformed. But I happen to think that allowing the government to dictate who gets what kind of healthcare… and when and where and how… is not the way to go about making a healthy change.
Healthcare is a very personal thing. This is your life, or the life of people you care about. Why would you want the government to have the final word?
If you have any objections, contact your senator, your congressman… whomever you can. Before it’s too late.
I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”