There has been an enormous amount of information flying around about healthcare and healthcare reform but as we separate the Hopium from fact, let’s take a look at how the government is currently handling healthcare. The answers are there for us.
We have government healthcare programs currently and they are: Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS). These programs are notoriously underfunded and have substandard care as compared to the quality of care of the majority of the American people.
Obama himself just recently said that Medicare will be out of money within 10 years. And he is proposing to pay for part of his healthcare “reform” by cutting Medicare repayments to HOSPITALS and physicians! When that happens, hospitals must raise costs to other patients in order to stay in business. By continually decreasing what they pay to hospitals and physicians, our government has been directly responsible for inflated healthcare costs. The Galen Institute did an excellent and succinct article about Medicare in June 2009 ( Read full article here ) –
Yet, despite its monopoly on seniors’ health care, the government has been unable to control Medicare’s costs. The Medicare trustees recently announced that the program is at least $37.8 trillion in the red over coming decades — and will start running out of money in just eight years. The claim that Medicare’s administrative costs are lower than private plans also is bogus: The government doesn’t count all its costs, including collecting premiums and paying for office and staff expenses, and it does little to stop fraud and abuse of the program, which costs at least $60 billion a year. Galen Institute
Unlike Medicare, which is solely a federal program, Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. Each state operates its own Medicaid system, but this system must conform to federal guidelines in order for the state to receive matching funds and grants. The federal matching formula is different from state to state, depending on each state’s poverty level. The wealthiest states only receive a federal match of 50% while poorer states receive a larger match. In an article by Dr. O’Shea at the Heritage Foundation ( Read full article here ), he lists the top problems with Medicaid as limited access to primary care providers, poor quality of care, and inadequate follow-up care.
There is much evidence of Medicaid’s inability to provide access to primary care services. The number of Medicaid beneficiaries who use emergency department services (ED) for non-urgent problems is a serious problem in many states. In 2004, the ED visit rate for Medicaid and SCHIP patients (80.3 visits per 100 persons) was higher than the rate for those in any other payer group, including those in Medicare (47.1 visits per 100 persons), without insurance (44.6 visits per 100 persons), and with private insurance (20.3 visits per 100 persons). In addition, a greater portion of ED visits by Medicaid/SCHIP patients in 2005 were classified as non-urgent or semi-urgent (35.7 percent) than visits by self-pay patients (23.7 percent), according to data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.
The VA is a single-payer government-run health-care system and the American government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense w ith a total 2009 budget of about $87.6 billion. While the quality of care has increased over the past few years, systemic issues are apparent and becoming worse. The average age of VA facilities is 49 years old and many are incapable of incorporating new technology or equipment in these aging facilities. Lack of appropriate oversight and transparency have been listed as areas that have caused enormous mistakes the likes of which are not seen in private healthcare. ( Read full article here )
Amid growing controversy over procedures that exposed 10,000 veterans to the AIDS and hepatitis viruses, the Department of Veterans Affairs is now bracing against news that one of its facilities in Pennsylvania gave botched radiation treatments to nearly 100 cancer patients.
Veterans groups and lawmakers say VA hospitals have permitted these violations because federal regulations allow doctors to work with little outside scrutiny. They say the VA health system, with its under-funded hospitals and overworked doctors, is showing signs of an “institutional breakdown,” in the words of one congressman.
An official with the American Legion who visits and inspects VA health centers said complacency, poor funding and little oversight led to the violations that failed the cancer patients in Philadelphia and possibly infected 53 veterans with hepatitis and HIV from unsterilized equipment at three VA health centers in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.
Indian Health Service (IHS) is an Operating Division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. IHS is responsible for providing medical and public health services to members of federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Natives. The IHS serves almost 2 million Native American Indians in 35 states. The IHS is plagued with problems of not having needed healthcare staff, equipment, access, federal funding is substandard (their budget is 1/3 of the budget for healthcare for felons in the US) and all of this has led to the most horrifying examples of rationed care being provided by our government: ( Read Full Article Here )
Rhonda Sandland says she couldn’t get help for her advanced frostbite until she threatened to kill herself because of the pain — several months after her first appointment. She says she was exposed to temperatures at more than 50 below, and her hands turned purple. She says the clinic then decided to remove five of her fingers, but a visiting doctor from Bismarck, N.D., intervened, giving her drugs instead. She says she eventually lost the tops of her fingers and the top layer of skin.
The same clinic failed to diagnose Victor Brave Thunder with congestive heart failure, giving him Tylenol and cough syrup when he told a doctor he was uncomfortable and had not slept for several days. He eventually went to a hospital in Bismarck, which immediately admitted him. But he had permanent damage to his heart, which he attributed to delays in treatment. Brave Thunder, 54, died in April while waiting for a heart transplant.
“You can talk to anyone on the reservation and they all have a story,” says Tracey Castaway, whose sister, Marcella Buckley, said she was in $40,000 of debt because of treatment for stomach cancer.
Buckley says she visited the clinic for four years with stomach pains and was given a variety of diagnoses, including the possibility of a tapeworm and stress-related stomachaches. She was eventually told she had Stage 4 cancer that had spread throughout her body.
Ron His Horse is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe, says his remote reservation on the border between North Dakota and South Dakota can’t attract or maintain doctors who know what they are doing. Instead, he says, “We get old doctors that no one else wants or new doctors who need to be trained.
Obama has made no attempt to hide that he is a proponent of a single payer system. The disengenuousness of suggesting a public option is simply the back door way for him to achieve a single payer system. Canada, the UK, Europe all have single payer systems and all have healthcare that is substandard to the USA. For the real horror story though, we can look to our government for how they have handled the systems in place – Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and IHS.
Politicians are not doctors and Congress is not qualified to make decisions about healthcare. Reach out to your elected officials during this August recess – tell them you do not support government takeover of healthcare in any form – it really is a life or death situation.