Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy – Dead At 77

Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer last night at his home in Hyannis Port, MA:

The man known as the “liberal lion of the Senate” had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to.

And you can expect him to lionized over the coming weeks. Although I completely disagree with just about everything Kennedy stood for, I wouldn’t wish what he had to suffer on anyone. My sympathies to his family.

However, look for his death to become an emotional rallying point (already begun) for the “reformers” as his death will be shamelessly politicized (also already begun) over the coming weeks in an effort to turn the health care debate around.

On the other hand, the 60 vote “fillibuster proof” Senate is no more. Under MA law the state must hold a special election within 5 months to fill the seat.

~McQ

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What Is Happening To Choice?

Freedom’s fundamental principles are choice and the lack of coercion. When you are free you make the choices in your life and you’re responsible for the consequences of your choice. In an authoritarian regime, someone else makes the choice for you and you’re left to obey or be punished. In some cases, you don’t even have the choice to obey – you are forced to comply.

And it is the latter of which this reminds me:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

No. Huh uh. No way.

“Public health officials” don’t get to make those decisions if a free country. There they’d be limited to offering the surgery as an option for the reasons stated, but no more. But “routine circumcision” doesn’t mean it will be offered as an option – routine means it will be done as a part of the birth procedure with or without the parent’s permission.

But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.

“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Now, let’s take a broader view of what is being said here by Dr. Kimarx in relation to the health care insurance reform now being considered.

Remember, we’re told, almost daily by proponents of this reform that decisions on care will be left to you and your doctor – correct?

So whose advice is Dr. Kilmarx basing his treatment recommendation on? That’s right his “consultants”. Where are you and your doctor in this decision making process?

Left out.  Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, Kilmarx is talking about keeping both you and your doctor completely out of the loop.

What Dr. Kilmarx is saying is the recommendations of the “consultants” outweighs your concerns and puts you out of that decision making cycle. Or, said more succinctly – they don’t care what you or your doctor want, they’re going to direct that “routine circumcisions” be a part of the birth procedure and they invoke an “epidemic” as the reason for this “intervention”.

So, given this is just the CDC, imagine what those government officials charged with providing “evidence-based medicine” for everyone will be putting out as directives that get between you and your doctor. And don’t forget, Obama is a great fan of “evidence-based care” as he noted at one of his pep-rallies townhalls on health care insurance reform.

What you’re seeing from the CDC is only the very tiniest of tips of the iceberg if government is put in charge of health care. Allowing the government to dictate forced circumcision would only set the precedent for what we all fear government run health care would bring. It may not seem to be that important of an issue, but it is.

This isn’t the government’s choice to make or direct. And it never should be.

~McQ

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Will Doctors Opt Out Of Public Option?

It appears at least some plan too. Dr. Alfred Bonati, who heads the American Society of Medical Doctors, says he plans to say “no” to accepting patients under a government run plan and, according to a poll he cites, so do an awful lot of other physicians:

Perhaps this is why a nationwide, nonpartisan poll of physicians this month found that a full 70 percent oppose the health care reform proposals under consideration by Congress. Sixty-six percent feel that a government-run health insurance plan would restrict doctors’ ability to give the best advice and offer the best care possible to their patients. Perhaps most importantly, 60 percent said they would not accept new patients covered by a government insurance plan.

His reasons are based in experience:

Nearly all the doctors polled have worked with Medicare. Most have likely been denied Medicare reimbursement, or given minimal reimbursement, for a course of treatment that they prescribed that best fits the needs of a patient and that patient’s family. They know that government coverage does not allow for flexibility, creativity, or, sometimes, even compassion.

[...]

I share the view of the 60 percent in the August poll — those doctors who are planning to “just say no” if government-run health coverage is implemented. Many of us already do not accept patients who are on Medicare or Medicaid because of restrictions those programs put on our decisions as doctors. It pains us to turn away a patient in need, but the narrow rules of government reimbursement programs stymie our ability to follow our oath, so we simply opt out and work with patients who are also in need but have more flexible, private coverage.

If a government option gains the popularity that is expected — after all, who would not choose the most affordable option available, and how could any option compete with one that is subsidized by taxpayers — millions of Americans will face severely limited options in choosing a doctor. As physicians reject working with a system that does not honor our oath, patients will be left opening their own checkbooks, or going into credit card debt, to get the treatment they need and deserve.

The law of unintended consequences again raises its head. The government may indeed put a public option in place – whether or not the citizens of the nation want it or not. And they may, through legislation, force insurance companies to take everyone without exception, but -at least not at this point- they can’t force doctors to accept patients under plans that don’t feel reimburses at a rate commensurate with the care given or doesn’t allow them to treat a patient in accordance with the oath they took.

Of course that then leaves that system with a problem and the government with a dilemma – does it then force MDs to take anyone who applies (as it will insurance companies) regardless of insurance plan? And if so, how do you suppose doctors and other health care providers will react?

It is these sorts of problems, dilemmas and unintended consequences that few are talking about in this great “debate”. What if it is doctors who become the Atlas that shrugs when all is said and done. What options would the government then have – in this land of the “free” and home of the brave?

~McQ

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