More Problems with Government-Run Health Care
This past week saw two additional reports from the United Kingdom on how and why that country’s government-run health care system doesn’t work for many of its patients. On Wednesday, the Welsh Assembly Government hinted that it would block access to several cancer drugs, reversing a January decision that would allow patients access to these treatments. The apparent reversal came after the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled the drugs were not cost-effective—giving the Welsh Government grounds to deny patients access to effective but expensive treatments solely on cost grounds. One patient on the cancer drug Sutent reacted with anger and frustration to the new development: “It is working for me. I don’t see how they can refuse it if it is working. It’s an expensive drug but what price life?”
The next day, a patient advocacy group highlighted problems with basic services at hospitals in England, citing cases of patients left in their own waste and similar problems where family members noted “at no time…did we feel there was ever anyone who cared for patients enough.” In an interview, the head of the Patients Association discussed the problems with a bureaucratic culture in Britain’s National Health Service:
The most awful part of this for many people is that they ring the hospital, they write the hospital, they make a complaint, “Why did my mum die in this terrible state, sitting here in her own…body [waste]…Why did she have to end her days like this?” Nobody answers, nobody phones back, and if they do, they’re very defensive. What does it cost to say, “I’m so sorry this happened—I’m going to find out why and stop it happening in the future?”
Many Members may not be surprised by these stories, which illustrate the problems created by government-run health systems—a bureaucratic culture showing little regard for patient needs and a strong inclination to deny patients access to life-sustaining but costly treatments. Examples such as these from Britain’s NHS represent the prime reason why Republicans believe that doctors and patients, not government bureaucrats, should make health care decisions in a reformed system.
The Real Reason Why Democrats Ignore Liability Reform
This past Tuesday, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) held a town hall with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. When asked by one of Rep. Moran’s constituent, the licensed physician—and known advocate of a government-run health plan—Gov. Dean gave a straight-forward answer:
“This is the answer from a doctor and a politician. Here’s why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put in it, the more enemies you make, right? And the reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on. And that is the plain and simple truth.”
In other words, Democrats support a government takeover of health care—except when it comes to the parts of health care controlled by the trial bar.
A Question of Identity
The same exchange at Tuesday’s town hall meeting was also noteworthy for Rep. Moran’s insistence that the constituent show identification before putting forth his query. This exchange follows a similar policy instituted by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) at his town hall meetings.
However, some Members may note that House Democrats’ health care takeover legislation (H.R. 3200) includes no provisions requiring individuals to show any proof of identity or citizenship in order to receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance—which could allow individuals engaging in identity theft, or undocumented immigrants, to obtain government-funded health care. The ID policy implemented by Democrats like Reps. Moran and Green at their town hall meetings begs an important question: Why should the process to ask a question of one’s Congressman be more rigorous than policies to ensure ineligible individuals receive taxpayer-subsidized health care?