sonoffrank

While Congress has been unable to “overhaul” or end the ironically named Affordable Care Act, there have been some significant changes in the favor of patients.  The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a provision reducing the penalty under ACA for not purchasing “qualifying” health insurance to $0 beginning in January 2019.  A new Department of Labor rule permits small businesses and self-employed individuals to partner together to purchase coverage through “association health plans” or AHPs exempt from many Obamacare’s mandates.  Another new rule will allow short-term insurance coverage that’s cheaper and less comprehensive than Obamacare plans.  Beginning in 2019, these plans can be extended for 36 months.  While not a comprehensive fix of the Obamacare mess, this is a good start.

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berniealex

Comrades

The price of socialism is very high.  But Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez don’t worry much about that.  Both are touting “universal” government funded healthcare.  But the cost for this proposal will be (depending on whose study you prefer) between $16 Trillion and $32 Trillion of additional federal spending over 10 years.  (The US government currently spends about $4 Trillion a year.)  This would amount to a minimum 10% increase in overall taxes to pay for the proposal.  (It takes “universal” taxes to pay for “universal” healthcare.)  And this does not take into account the affect on the economy of such a massive shift in health care costs.  You can read more here and here.

The Alfie Evans outrage occurred in an NHS hospital with a long record of clinical negligence, including the worst scandal in the history of Britain’s National Health Service. Most of the media have covered Alfie’s case, with characteristic dishonesty, as a tragedy that began before the boy was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. But, according to the court testimony of the NHS physicians who admitted Alfie, his initial diagnosis involved a fairly common condition: “viral bronchiolitis and a possible prolonged febrile convulsion.” The still-undiagnosed brain disease that allegedly killed Alfie didn’t appear until after he entered this dangerous hospital.

The hospital has had many violations of law and regulations including illegal organ harvesting, multiple safety violations, and a high rate of hospital acquired infections (HAIs).  It seems likely that this last failure led to Alfie Evans’ death.  You can read full details here: https://spectator.org/alfie-evans-is-just-the-latest-victim-of-a-deadly-nhs-hospital/.

hospitalhall

When debating socialized medicine (and other government monopolized services), we often argue ad nauseum about models, theories and statistics.  Cost estimates are made and actuarial tables quoted. We make moral judgments about the motivations of our opponents.  We also forget that real people are affected in real ways by our decisions.  Two cases in point are Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard of the UK.

These little boys had several things in common.  They were very, very sick with little hope of recovery.  Their parents loved them very, very much and wanted to do everything they could to help them survive.  And the UK medical and judiciary system decided that both boys should die.  The parents and others wanting to continue medical treatment were banned from doing so.  When the parents asked the government for permission to take their sons out of the country to receive medical care in the US or in Italy, where care was offered, they were denied.

Charlie Gard is now deadAlfie Evans is still alive as this is being written, even after being taken off of life support, but is not receiving any care.  He will most likely die soon.

Socialized medicine failed these two boys.  Their government failed these two families.  Theories and models are not as important as the very real lives affected by the choices we make about governance.

Of course, there are financial costs.  Socialized healthcare does not pay for itself, but is dependent upon increasing subsidies.  In this country, Medicare patients must pay for supplemental insurance themselves to cover essential services.  Those who live in nations with socialized healthcare systems must travel to other countries, including the US, to get the medical care they need.  Premiums go up.  Taxes go up.

However, the real cost is in human suffering.  Perhaps the most compelling example of this is Charlie Gard.  This UK infant was diagnosed with a terminal, incurable disease, and the state ordered him taken off of life support.  His parents wanted permission to try an experimental treatment in the US, but the UK courts denied their request.  You can read a concise summary of the case here: http://www.unionleader.com/editorial/Pray-for-Charlie-Gard-The-cost-of-socialized-medicine-07262017  Charlie’s mother offers a more personal and detailed account here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/24/charlie-gard-mothers-full-statement-sorry-couldnt-save/

In short, socializing medicine takes power away from individual and family, and puts the power into the hands of faceless bureaucrats who do not care about individual and family (unless it is their own).  In the case of Charlie Gard, the UK healthcare system actively killed the patient.