Jul 29 2009
I was listening to the Grandy & Andy Big Hour (630 AM in DC) this morning and was glad to hear the nation is having its long overdue discussion about health care and the cost of end of life treatment. It is a good debate and it is involving the largest voting block out there – the retiring and aging baby boomers, their parents and their children – who are all facing these tough end of life decisions. I hope Fred Grandy posts all the calls to the show today on their site for everyone to review.
I also listened to Hannity yesterday afternoon and he had a caller who tried to make note of the fact that under Medicare/Medicaid we are going to be taxed into financial ruin by the runaway costs of unlimited care for the elderly, even without the Democrats’ disastrous government take over. Hannity just did not get the point that we as a nation cannot afford unlimited care for everyone. He was babbling about freedom while we face ever increasing taxes to cover Medicare/Medicaid. That was not a good debate but simply the slinging of sound bites.Â It was really embarrassing. We deserve better.Â
The Dems approach is a non-starter, were bureaucrats are now inserting themselves into the very personal and private family discussions regarding end of life opportunities. They see the problem, their solution sucks. It is government run rationing plain and simple.
A doctor from VA called into the show to note another serious problem with the Democrats’ plan. His take was there are profit incentives in the House plan for doctors to save money on end of life care. This would be a complete disaster if doctors see personal financial reward for convincing challenging cases to forego expensive life sustaining options. Right now this is not the case – as it should be. I want advice based on the merits and down sides of options, not to have dollars get into the mix. Right now too many doctors push for the simple solutions as it is. We don’t need to pay them more for pushing people away from costly options.
However, leaving the system as is no going to work either, because we are beginning to ration, or will need to, anyway. There are too many seniors going into retirement and accessing expensive care for the workforce to cover.Â
So where do we go.Â I think there are options out there that do not take away access or the opportunity to buy what you want to for end of life treatment. For example, we could cap lifetime Medicare/Medicaid payouts to something that could cover any option. Instead of saying how the money is spent and what is allowed or not allowed, we just allocate a set of affordable limits on each person. Something that allows a couple of shots at this expensive care, but not limitless.
I also think we should promote health insurance coverage for seniors who can afford it to augment the Medicare/Medicaid cap once it is expended. Another option is to allow families to take out tax free loans for the care of their family members. Thus the nation covers some, but people have options to buy more care as their individual situation dictates. These are simply budgets, the decision on how to spend the money stays with the doctors, patients and families.
If you have worked hard and succeeded in life, and have the where with all to pay into insurance and/or qualify for loans to get through these tough times then the government should get in the way. We are a nation that believes in a safety net for those who did not fare as well as the rest of us. But we are also a nation that believes if you work hard you earned the right to spend your rewards as you see fit and not be forced to subsidize others who may have made poor life decisions. I am not interested in providing limitless care to someone who abused drugs their entire life and could never hold a decent job. I will donate to the general fund.
That is the intermediate point we need to reach. A reasonable but not endless safety net, just as was done with welfare.
In addition, we need grouping of small individual plans so small businesses can afford health insurance. We need access to doctors for 2nd opinions when we feel the advice we are getting is more to minimize the doctor’s risk or headaches and not so much about the patient’s situation.
There are lots of ways to fix this, but first we must realize that Dems go too far and the status quo is just a slower path to the same bad end. We need to think outside the box. We need to re-think Medicare and Medicaid to be a life time budget and not a set of allowed services with fixed prices.
Addendum: The more I think about my proposal the more I like it (what a shock!). For one, giving each person a federal budget eliminates a lot of waste and abuse. The money is tied to the patient, not the care giver. It would eliminate a ton of paperwork. And doctors could no longer scam the system with bogus claims, they patient signs off on the expenditure.
Also, I would add the provision for people to donate their budget to others. A healthy spouse could donate their federal safety net budget to their ailing spouse. The well to do could donate to the less off. Between the loans and the donations those who cannot quite afford the next treatment option can have the remainder covered somehow through family or Good Samaritan efforts.
We don’t need the government making these decisions, and we don’t need them deciding what care should be needed.Â We The PeopleÂ would decide where to help and who to help. We don’t need government to make us a good and proud and selfless people. We need them to get out of our way.
Update: Gateway Pundit has a must see video on how under Obamacare only the strong will survive – it is an incredibly powerful video.