Regnat Populus

The people rule.

Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Orszag Needs A Proctocolectomy

Posted by Max Barron on May 15, 2009

head-up-assOrszag Needs A Proctocolectomy… To safely remove his head from his arse.  Because that is where it seems to reside – if he thinks anyone with any kind of sense buys the bull his incontinent bowls are spewing.  Orszag put pen to paper for an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, allow me to state for the record that there is such a thing as a wrong opinion.  You need look no further than Orszag’s diatribe to find a prime example.

The Medicare and Social Security trustees’ reports released this week show that health-care costs drive our long-term entitlement problem. An example illustrates the point: If costs per enrollee in Medicare and Medicaid grow at the same rate over the next four decades as they have over the past four, those two programs will increase from 5% of GDP today to 20% by 2050.

First, “long term entitlements” are a huge part of our collective problems to day.  Orszag basically defines why when he drones on to tell us that in 40 years at current growth rates Medicare and Medicaid will consume 20% of GDP.  I’ve talked about this before.  It is a certain sign of an ignorant or otherwise foolish person to use the prime example of what is wrong with federal entitlement programs… to argue the case for MORE federal entitlement programs.

We don’t seem to be getting anything in exchange for the extra costs except more intensive tests and procedures, and additional days in the hospital — and who would want any of that if the additional tests and procedures do not actually help to promote health?

No one would want excessive and useless tests with more hospital time.  No one does.  Not even the doctors that are performing the tests.  But they don’t have a choice, because if they don’t some shyster trial lawyer will sue the doctor and hospital for millions and win.  Thus the high cost of malpractice insurance, and therefore, higher cost of care. 

While Orszag may have a point about excessive testing… but he’s also using it to frame his argument for government rationed health care.  The stench of statist mouth sewage is wafting from the statement.  Swimmers beware!

Health-care costs are already so high and the power of compound interest so strong that reducing the growth rate by 1.5 percentage points per year would save substantial sums. It would reduce national health expenditures by more than $2 trillion over the next decade — and could help to put roughly $2,500 in the pockets of the average American family every year.

Excellent point!  What Petey, here is forgetting to mention is that much of those costs are driven up because of government regulations that prevent competition in the industry.  These numbers also come from a more Capitalist system – one which is vastly more efficient and effective than a bureaucratically driven system.  So, if the overly burdensome costs and compound interest are so oppressive now… one can hardly fathom what it would be like with nationalized health care.  Wait, yes we can!  Just take a look at the current entitlement programs.  Or virtually any program run by the bureaucrats.  Inefficient.  Ineffective.  Piss poor.

A slower growth rate in overall health-care spending would help to promote and sustain a slowdown in Medicare and Medicaid spending, too. If cost growth slowed by that much in the future, Medicare and Medicaid spending would reach only about 10% of GDP by 2050 — half the level than if historical growth rates continued.

Lesser health care costs sure would lower the.. uh.. cost of health care.  You don’t say?  Perhaps if the Democrats stopped supporting trial lawyers and started supporting legislation that would seek to end frivolous lawsuits we’d be off to a great start.  Then the statists could do something completely against their nature, like opening up the entire industry to competition – which always causes lower pricing and higher quality.  Sacrilege!

“…only about 10% of GDP…” Only?  Last time I checked, 10% was still a whole freakin’ lot.  Perhaps, just perhaps, instead of blowing 10% of GDP on an entitlement program that is best left to the private sector… we could actually make it 0% by actually turning it over to the private sector.  Oh, and lest we forget the agenda here… If Medicare and Medicaid – which is only used by a fraction of the population – is on track to consume more than 10% (up to 20%) of GDP, what is Obamacare going to consume?

How can we move toward a high-quality, lower-cost system? There are four key steps: 1) health information technology, because we can’t improve what we don’t measure; 2) more research into what works and what doesn’t, so doctors don’t recommend treatments that don’t improve health; 3) prevention and wellness, so that people do the things that keep them healthy and avoid costs associated with health risks such as smoking and obesity; and 4) changes in financial incentives for providers so that they are incentivized rather than penalized for delivering high-quality care.

1) Yes, let’s give the bloated bureaucrats a nice database with ALL of our personal health information… yeah, that’ll be good.

2) Translation – Let’s have the bureaucrats ration our health care in whatever manner they see fit.  How’s that working out for the UK?

3)  Like punitive taxes to discourage us from doing what the statist jackals don’t want us to do?  i.e. Soda taxes, alcohol taxes, tobacco taxes, fat taxes, and soon how about a breathing tax.  What if we don’t cover our mouths when we cough or wash our hands, Mr. President?  Will we be taxed in the name of health care costs? Or perhaps they’ll just plain outlaw everything that they don’t want us to do – but then where would they get their money.

4)  How is it that they are penalized now?  Ohhhh, because they get more money for seeing more patients.  Which leaves the victim seeking statist to believe that this lends to shoddy care.  So let’s reverse that and pay them more to see less patients.  Yeah, that’s a great idea.

In February, the president signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is providing resources for electronic medical records, patient-centered health research, and prevention and wellness interventions so that we have the infrastructure in place to lower health spending in the long run.

The Generational Theft Act provided a nice chunk of change to GE (whom also received TARP monies) to research and create this great nationalized health care database.  Coincidentally,this is the same company that owns the All Barack Worshiping Channels. Better known as NBC, MSNBC and CNBC.  Can we say political pay-off?

The president’s budget also put forward a set of quality-enhancing changes in incentives in Medicare and Medicaid, such as paying hospitals less when they don’t get patient treatment right the first time so we can reduce the number of patients who have to endure readmission to a hospital.

There is an old joke – “It’s called practicing medicine for a reason.” There is no certainty in diagnosis… it is a guessing game based on symptoms. If the all-seeing all-knowing government chooses to penalize doctors for NOT getting it right on the first try, they will start refusing to see patients. OR include even more excessive testing and longer stays to ensure that they get it “right” on the first visit. “We’re ready for your colonoscopy Mr. Smith.” “But I came in because I have the sniffles.” Isn’t this precisely what Petey-boy was just whining about?

But more must be done. To transform our health-care system so that it improves efficiency and increases value, we need to undertake comprehensive health-care reform, and the president is committed to getting that done this year. Once we do, we will put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path and build a new foundation for our economy for generations to come.

Riiiiggghhhhtttt.  There’s that statist stench we all know and hate.  As mentioned previously.  If Medicare and Medicaid as so completely utterly wasteful, expensive and inefficient – why would anyone with common sense believe that a national system just like Medicare and Medicaid – but for everyone – would be any different?  Perhaps Mr. Orszag has been sitting on his head for too long.


Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obamacare Paid In Part By Tax On Private Care

Posted by Max Barron on May 14, 2009

obama_healthcare1_1Ladies and gentlemen, sit back and savor the irony as the Obama administration and his minions on the hill consider funding Obamacare in part by taxing what he said (while campaigning) should not be taxed – Employer based health care benefits, which is currently tax exempt.  If you recall John McCain’s health care reform plan involved taxing employee health care benefits to fund a tax credit for people to go out and buy their own health care insurance.  You will also recall that Obama railed against such a tax saying that it would hurt low income and middle class families.  However, the idea is gaining steam in Congress as they have estimated that removing the tax exemption could generate up to $297 billion in tax revenues.

The idea of taxing employee health-care benefits to raise money for an overhaul of the health system is gaining strength in Congress, although it drew criticism from Barack Obama when he was campaigning for president.

Experts lined up Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee and said it is one of the best ways to pay for a health-care overhaul. Many top Democrats support the concept.

Not so coincidentally taxing the benefits to pay for Obamacare is also another nail in the private health care coffin – which Obama and his statist Congress are building – and another way to help ensure the inevitability of single-payer nationalized health care.  The major road block for Obamacare is funding.  The overwhelming costs of his health care initiative cannot be funded from just one place…

A comprehensive plan that would include coverage for those now without insurance is expected to cost about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. So far, the government has identified where it will get about half of that sum.

The sheer magnitude of funds needed for Obamacare means that Obama and Congress are going to have to get creative with their taxation.  As discussed earlier here they are also considering a Soda Tax  and naturally, another alcohol tax.  Falling short of the currently projected $1.2 trillion over 10 years, the currently estimated $297 billion annually is starting to look mouth-watering good.  However, that doesn’t mean that removing the exemption will fly in Congress.

Leading Democrats say they still want the benefits to have some tax advantages. “To be honest, I don’t think we’re going to repeal the exclusion,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said at Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, they are considering placing a cap on the amount that is tax-exempt, and higher-income employees could see the tax benefit curbed.

“I don’t see how you put a package together…unless you touch the exclusion,” Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, said at Tuesday’s hearing.

Translation – more class warfare.  My prediction is that targeted voting blocks (poor and lower middle class) will probably keep their exemptions while the middle class will probably see partial exemptions.  The upper middle class will see less, if any, exemptions and those vile, evil, rich people will get no exemptions and/or possibly pay even more. 

Call me cynical but I highly suspect that Obamacare will cost well above $1.2 trillion – which of course, means that those initially kept expemtions will be slowly stripped away.  And should these exemptions be stripped we can look forward to an acceleration towards a complete single-payer system.  The irony is that by killing exemptions to pay for Obamacare and usher in the single-payer system, once private health care is dead and buried… how will it be paid for?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An Entitlement Society Is A Bankrupt Society

Posted by Max Barron on May 14, 2009

aria-babiesEconomics 101 – you cannot sustain increasing debts without increasing, by wider margin, incomes.  We Conservatives know this, the government knows this – but doesn’t care, and the Wall Street Journal points it out yet again.  Our entitlement programs, more specifically Social Security and Medicare are a few years short of total collapse.  Unlike a corporation, these programs can’t file chapter 11.  Instead, Congress will drive up taxation – to no avail – in order to sustain these programs for a few more years before they do what is inevitable… fail.

The Medicare fund for hospital care will be depleted in 2017, two years earlier than government actuaries estimated a year ago. Last year marked the first time that Medicare ran a deficit, paying out more in benefits than it generates from taxes and other revenue.

The report also factors in a 21% cut in payments this year, required by law, to doctors working for Medicare. But for the past several years, Congress has canceled that reduction.

Keep in mind that the 2017 date is based on a 21% cut in payments to doctors in the program, which Congress reliably cancels.  The current Congress, controlled overwhelmingly by Democrats, is virtually guaranteed to cancel the cut again this year.  Invariably, this will bring the 2017 date down a notch.  The solution to this program’s complete and dismal failure?  It won’t be proper privatization, no sir.  It will be more tax revenues… or a heavy hand smacking the health care industry – ala Chrysler.  Or both.   

Obama administration officials used the new estimates as a rationale for overhauling health care. “Today, we’re not issuing just another government report,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “It’s a wake-up call for anyone concerned about Medicare and the health of our economy. And it’s another sign that we can’t wait for real, comprehensive health reform.”

The Obama administration has proposed several ways to control Medicare costs, including cutting payments to private insurers and allowing the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Some of those cuts face resistance in Congress, which will need to approve them. Even if approved, the savings won’t come close to fully offsetting the increasing cost of the program. Many of the savings have already been reserved to pay for the administration’s plan to overhaul health care.

What Sebelius and the Obama administration are neglecting to mention is that the Medicare program has been government driven from the beginning.  And it is failing – just as anyone with any common sense would foresee.  So what’s the solution?  More government.  More entitlements… more, more, more. 

However, what the administration is careful to tip toe around is the issue of taxation.  The simple fact of the matter is that new taxes and higher taxes will be needed to prop up Medicare immediately. 

“In the end, there’s going to be a lot of huffing and puffing and some genuine savings from changes in Medicare, but there is no way to balance Medicare without significant increases in taxes,” said Henry Aaron, an economist with the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution.

Medicare, like Social Security, is a failing social experiment… One that should be kept in mind when discussing the merits of nationalized health care.  Sebelius and Obama seem to believe that all Americans should be placed in a health care system, run by the government – like Medicare and Medicaid.  As if the current entitlements aren’t abysmal drains on the economy and the senior citizens currently subjected to them.  Not one of the federally driven entitlements is in good shape, nor can they be, because there is NEVER enough money.  Take Social Security for instance, which is something that everyone pays into.

The Social Security trust fund wouldn’t be exhausted until 2037, but that is four years earlier than last year’s report predicted.

The actuaries estimated that Social Security beneficiaries would not receive a cost-of-living increase for the next two years, and that a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries would pay higher-than-usual increases in monthly premiums, 8% in 2010 and 15% in 2011.

Each year the estimated year of bankruptcy is lowered.  Last year it was 2041, now 2037, next year it will be even lower.  This is because of the simple fact that federal entitlements fail.  They always will fail.  There are far too many people drawing far too little funds.  The only solution is to raise taxes on any number of things.  Even if those tax levels were raised and new taxes were created, there still would not be enough money to sustain the level of debt from these entitlements.  So more taxes will be created and more private wealth consumed, until there simply isn’t anything left.  It is like bailing water off of a sinking Titanic with buckets. 

That is especially clear given the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is about to begin their mass move to retirement, where their collective weight will be on our shoulders as they are enrolled in Medicare and begin to draw Social Security. 

My prediction?  These failing programs will be used as another sob story justification for nationalized health care.  Which if enacted, will fail, just as every other entitlement or government run program.  Realize that since the creation of these programs tax payers have dumped tens of trillions of dollars into them… and they failed.  What makes anyone think that nationalized health care will be any different?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tax Those Calories Away!

Posted by Max Barron on May 12, 2009

biggulpYou’ve heard of “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” “Weight Watchers” and the “South Beach Diet,” all of which claim to help you cut those unwanted pounds and reduce your caloric intake.  But soon you could have a whole new diet…”Skimpin’ cuz the Taxes.”  Not long ago NY Governor Patterson discussed creating a soda tax – which would tax high sugar content beverages – to discourage their consumption.  Outraged, New Yorkers and the beverage industries stomped that idea into oblivion.  But not before the Mighty Fedzilla’s super-sonic hearing picked up on it.  Now, Fedzilla – oddly aroused by the idea – is contemplating creating a soda tax to help pay for their health care initiatives – a backdoor to single payer, government rationed health care. 

The idea behind the tax is, as usual, purportedly for our own good.  The idea is to tax the drinks to dissuade people from purchasing and consuming them, in the name of our health.  Basically they believe that if they tax those deliciously sugary beverages that it will reduce the amount of obesity and diabetes, thus lowering the costs of health care.  Supporters of this kind of tax believe that it will actually curtail consumption… it won’t.  Not only will the tax be ineffective, but it will also not produce the kinds of revenues needed to off-set the gaping chasm of a money pit that is nationalized health care.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this Soda Tax would produce roughly only $24 billion over the next four years.  That isn’t even the tip of the currently estimated $1.2 trillion health care initiative iceberg – which I consider to be a remarkably conservative estimate. 

From the standpoint of health care funding, the soda tax is completely pointless.  It will reach much further than the guilty pleasures of an ice cold Pepsi or Coca~Cola, though.  It will dip into numerous other drinks such as Gatorade, Capri-Sun and Powerade to name a few.  As the tax is aimed at calorie content… not sugar syrups.  And anyone who says that Gatorade and the like cause obesity is a liar and an idiot.  Pepsi, Coca~cola, Dr. Pepper, etc don’t either for that matter.  No, it is people that make people obese by not observing moderation (people with medical conditions like thyroid deficiencies not withstanding).  Again, it isn’t the funding that this tax is all about.  Mr. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, brings that point home.

“Soda is clearly one of the most harmful products in the food supply, and it’s something government should discourage the consumption of.” 

It is about some statist oligarch telling the American people how to live their lives.  Because they know better than we mere plebes.  This isn’t to say that the soda tax will be effective in that mission either.  It won’t.  People will continue to consume them en masse because they have no personal sense of restraint or moderation.  And it isn’t for the government to moderate those lifestyle choices.  Which, if this tax slides through, we can all look forward to more of.  Look at the bright side, though.  When you order a steak, if that you can afford the taxes on it, you won’t have to worry about telling the server how you want it prepared… Capital Hill will have already decided that for you.

To turn a phrase “let them eat cake – let them be fat!”

Posted in Rants | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »