By Tom Quiner
Let us revisit a notorious statement from last year:
“The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
Sarah Palin, August 7, 2009
Ms. Palin was excoriated by the Obama administration and his cheerleaders in the media for her use of the term “death panel.” Her statement is worth revisiting in light of who President Obama nominated to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama has mandated massive cuts in these two programs. The new administrator will make those cuts. That man, should his nomination be approved, is Dr. Donald Berwick of Harvard Medical School.
Let us review Dr. Berwick’s philosophy so we can put Ms. Palin’s fears to rest regarding “death panels.” I have accumulated several of his quotes which sets out his vision for medical care:
• Talking in London to the Brits about their system, he said: “I hope you will never, ever give up what you have begun. I hope you realize and affirm how badly you need — how badly the world needs — an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent and free at the point of care — a health system that, at its core is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just.”
Free care is what he wants. Don’t we all! But Dr. Berwick is just getting warmed up:
• “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.”
In other words, he believes in a single payer system.
• “You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach. You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”
In other words, you ration.
• “You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any health care funding plan that is ‘just’ must redistribute wealth.”
Last year, President Obama signed a bill which funded the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (aka Healthcare Rationing Council). Here is Dr. Berwick’s take on what comparative effectiveness is all about:
• “The first is to determine whether a therapy works or not. The second is to determine how well the therapy works compared to other therapies. The third is to do a cost-benefit analysis. If a new drug or procedure is effective, and has some advantage over existing alternatives,then does the incremental benefit justify the likely additional cost?”
Now we get to the nitty-gritty: if you’re paying for your own health care, you get to make those decisions yourself. If the government is subsidizing it, as they shall under Obamacare, they make the decision, not you.
Dr. Berwick makes it clear what that will mean to you:
• “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”
Will healthcare be withheld (rationed) to some sick Americans? According to the President’s nominee to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the answer is yes. That’s what rationing means. Some get it, some don’t, and you don’t get a say in it.
Call it what you want: Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research or a death panel, the result is the same.