Obamacare – Lies and Politics to transform One-Sixth of the U.S. Economy into a Welfare Program

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Here’s the skinny on Obamacare.  And it isn’t good.  For it transfers health insurance into a massive welfare program.  That ultimately will be paid for by the state.  Which means we the taxpayers will pay for it with massive new taxes.  After Obamacare shuts down the private health insurance industry.  Which it appears to be designed to do (see Obama’s health care law: A trek, not a sprint by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press, posted 3/11/2012 on Yahoo! News).

The Affordable Care Act gradually reorganizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy to cover most of the nation’s 50 million uninsured, while simultaneously trying to restrain costs and prevent disruptions to the majority already with coverage.

If the government takes over one-sixth of the U.S. economy this won’t be the same USA anymore.  It won’t be free market capitalism here.  But a European social democracy.  Like the European nations suffering from the European sovereign debt crisis.  Caused by excessive government spending.  And excessive government borrowing to pay for that spending.  Which will happen under Obamacare.  Because you can’t provide more for less.  More health care will cost more.  And when the private health insurance industry fails when they can’t provide more for less that leaves government as the sole provider in the health care market.  The ultimate plan for Obamacare.  As it has to be.  Because you can’t provide more for less.

“We really haven’t seen the main game,” said Drew Altman, president of the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit information clearinghouse on the health care system. “The major provisions that will affect the most people and cost the most money don’t go into effect until 2014 or later.”

The timing of Obamacare is further proof that it will be a disaster for health insurers and for those buying health insurance.  If it was good they would have implemented it before the 2012 election.  So Obama could campaign on its successes.  But knowing it was a failure they pushed back implementation until after the 2012 election.  So that failure wouldn’t dash all hopes for an Obama second term.

Millions of people are getting preventive care that now must be provided at no additional cost to patients. Birth control for women soon will be on that list. Insurance premium increases are getting more scrutiny.

You can’t provide more for less.  Forcing health insurers to provide free birth control without charging more in premiums to pay for this will put the private insurers out of business.  Unless they allow insurers to increase premiums.  Then everyone will pay more so women can use birth control without paying for it.  A product that shuts down a natural biological function of the human body.  Which isn’t insurance on more than one level.  First of all, it’s not financial protection against an unexpected catastrophic health care expense.  For there is nothing unknown about this expense.  Second, getting pregnant is the proper thing for female body to do after sex.  Stopping this process is not a health issue.  It’s a lifestyle choice.  And therefore shouldn’t be paid for by the same thing we use to pay for cancer treatments.  An unexpected catastrophic expense.

A highly promoted program that provides a lifeline to people denied coverage because they already had medical problems has probably saved lives. But enrollment in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan has been disappointing, with only about 50,000 people nationwide.

Glenn Nishimura, a consultant from Little Rock, Ark., checked it out and found his premiums would come to about $6,300 a year.

“It’s out of my price range,” said Nishimura. It makes more financial sense to take care of his high blood pressure and high blood sugars by paying out-of-pocket and gambling that his health will hold up, he reasons. In three years he’ll be eligible for better coverage under Medicare.

This individual mandate, the main target for the law’s critics, also takes effect in 2014. Without it, many experts fear that the new exchanges, the state-based markets for private insurance, won’t work. Healthy people would be tempted to postpone signing up until they get sick, raising costs for everybody.

You can’t provide more for less.  And there’s nothing that costs more in the health insurance industry than paying for preexisting conditions.  Because if you’re covering a preexisting condition it means that the preexisting medical condition wasn’t covered before it existed.  Meaning the person did not buy health insurance when they were younger and healthier.  And paid nothing into the health insurance pools to help offset the costs of those who fall ill with an unexpected and catastrophic illness.  Only now that they are sick and facing large medical bills do they want health insurance coverage to pay these bills.  Which isn’t insurance.  It’s welfare. 

The individual mandate addresses this.  But it’s unconstitutional.  For the government doesn’t have the right to make people buy anything.  And, no, it’s not the same as car insurance.  Because if you don’t drive a car you don’t have to buy car insurance.  And if the Supreme Court upholds this unconstitutional individual mandate it will have the same effect as a massive tax increase.  And kill economic activity.  At a time the nation is still reeling under the Great Recession.  Massive new government expenditures and a fall in economic activity, and therefore a fall in tax revenue, will put the U.S. ever closer to those European social democracies wallowing in the European sovereign debt crisis.  And in case you’re wondering what that would mean it would be a bad thing.  A very, very bad thing.  Unless you like riots in the streets.  As they had them in Greece, France, and the UK.  And elsewhere wherever they tried to cut back some great government welfare program.

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Canadian Doctors adjust to Drug Rationing in Canada’s National Health Care System

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Advocates of a national health care system in America point to Canada.  And say that’s what they want.  Free health care.  Not quality care at affordable prices.  But the utopia of having whatever you want or need for free.  Given to you by a caring and loving government.  Who puts people before profits.  And looks at health care from a cost basis.  Eliminating those nasty, smelly profits from the health care equation.  Because no one should profit on disease.  People should provide health care services out of love.  Not profits.  Making the world a better place in the process.  Isn’t that a better way to approach health care?  Sure, there are the naysayers.  But I ask them, what could possibly go wrong in this utopian system of health care?  Except, perhaps, this (see Hospitals depart from standard practices as injectable drugs become scarce by Kim Mackrael posted 3/9/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

Injectable drugs are so scarce in Canada that doctors across the country are being forced to restrict their use and depart from standard hospital practices.

Some hospitals are urging physicians to hold onto vials containing leftover medicine, instead of throwing them out after a single use. Cancer patients in Alberta have been switched from faster-acting injectable anti-nausea drugs to oral alternatives, and, in Ontario, at least one hospital has suggested staff consider low doses of more potent painkillers as supplies of commonly used drugs like morphine run low.

While doctors say these short-term solutions aren’t compromising patient safety, they point to the larger and more critical issue of getting a handle on a simmering drug-supply problem that has been years in the making.

Sandoz Canada, which manufactures most of the generic, injectable drugs used in the country, warned hospitals last month that it was cutting production following a citation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which flagged the company for sterility concerns at its Boucherville, Que. factory. That shortage was exacerbated last week after a fire broke out at the facility, halting production entirely…

Doctors say they’ve faced drug shortages before, for a wide variety of medications. The problem, many say, is that manufacturers aren’t required to notify hospitals of pending shortages – as they are in other countries, including the United States and France.

It’s pretty sad when the United States government makes a Canadian factory throttle back production.  Even sadder is the Canadian government depending on one factory to provide ‘inexpensive generic injectable drugs’ for an entire country.  Which raises a few questions.  Like what was plan B should this facility catch on fire?  If there wasn’t a plan B wouldn’t you think they should have had one?  If there was only one factory providing these drugs how could they be sure they were getting the lowest price without any competition?  Why is the American government citing a Canadian factory for issues of sterility?  If this Canadian factory was deficient in areas of sterility why didn’t the Canadian government cite them?  And why is it that doctors face recurring shortages on a variety of medications in the Canadian health care system?

None of this would happen in a profit-driven system.  Where there would be another factory making that generic drug ready and willing to sweep in and pick up the business from that struggling factory.  And doctors facing drug shortages when ordering their drugs would simply order from another supplier.  Now I’m no expert in the medical drugs industry, but I do know this much.  I’ve never heard any doctor making substitutions like this in the American hospitals I’ve been in.  And I’ve been in a lot between my parents.  Who always seem to get the drugs they needed.  And the only complaint I’ve heard from their doctors was about the slow Medicare reimbursements.  The government part of their private health care system treatment.  Much like the Canadian government causes the problems in the Canadian health care system.  For when the doctors and nurses have the supplies they need they provide the highest of quality health care. 

The only problem in both the American and Canadian health care systems is their governments’ involvement in it.  The greater their involvement (as in Canada) the greater the problems.  The less involvement (as in the United States) the fewer the problems.  A trend that doesn’t bode well for Obamacare.

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American Profit-Driven Health Care System provides New Hope for Transplant Patients

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

There’s good news and bad news for transplant patients.  The good news is that Obamacare is not yet fully implemented.   The bad news is that unless the new President and/or Congress repeals Obamacare, it will be.  And if and when that happens developments like this will be a thing of the past (see Immune system tricked to accept donor organs: study by Julie Steenhuysen posted 3/9/2012 on Reuters).

Scientists have found a way to trick the immune system into accepting organs from a mismatched, unrelated organ donor, a finding that could help patients avoid a lifetime of drugs to prevent rejection of the donated organ…

With conventional organ transplants, recipients need to take pills to suppress their immune systems for the rest of their lives. These drugs can cause serious side effects, including high blood pressure, diabetes, infection, heart disease and cancer.

This new approach would potentially offer a better quality of life and fewer health risks for transplant recipients,” Dr. Suzanne Ildstad, director of the Institute of Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who developed the new approach, said in a statement.

The new technique draws on research by Australian immunologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Brazilian-born British zoologist Peter Medawar, who won the 1960 Nobel Prize for discovering that the immune system in animals can be trained to acquire tolerance of foreign tissue.

But it has been a long road to bring this about in people, says Dr. Joseph Leventhal, a transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where the transplants took place.

To get transplant recipients to accept the donor organ, the team needs to condition” them by suppressing their body’s bone marrow with chemotherapy and radiation before transplanting the donor’s bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bones. Bone marrow contains immature blood-forming stem cells that give rise to all blood cells, including immune system cells.

The idea here is to try to use donor-derived stem cells to achieve engraftment, a state we call chimerism,” Leventhal, a co-author of the study, said in a telephone interview. Here what we are trying to do is get donor and recipient cells to peacefully coexist in the transplant recipient.”

About a month before transplant surgery, kidney donors must inject themselves with a medication for several days that forces stem cells and other key cells called facilitating cells” into their bloodstream, from where they can be collected and sent off to the University of Louisville for processing.

Leventhal said these facilitating cells” are naturally occurring cells that help create a more favorable environment for the stem cells and allow engraftment to occur safely.

Ildstad has developed a process for enriching these cells and formed a company called Regenerex LLC, which is developing the patented technology.

Louisville, Kentucky?  Chicago, Illinois?  And American pharmaceutical company?  An amazing new procedure?  See a pattern here?  The American health care system.  At least, pre-Obamacare.  Because up until Obamacare health care in America was a profit-driven system.  Providing huge financial incentives to encourage investors to invest in things exactly like this.  This did not come out of the UK.  Where their nationally funded National Health Service (NHS) is bursting at the seams due to out of control costs.  And causing great government deficits.  Where their focus is on cost cutting.  And the rationing of services.  To keep the NHS afloat.  Where investors don’t take financial risks.  Taxpayers just pay more.

This will be the future in America under Obamacare.  A change from where investors help bring about amazing new procedures and drugs.  To one where the focus is on cost cutting.  And the rationing of services.  At least based on all the empirical evidence we have so far.

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The UK’s NHS chooses Expensive Drug from US Drug Maker Merck because it’s Better than Anything they Have

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

What’s the difference between pre-Obamacare US health care and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)?  Incentive.  In the US there is an incentive to pour billions of dollars into research and development.  To produce the next super drug.  Whereas in the UK drug companies only make as much as the government allows.  Or is willing to pay.  Creating a disincentive to pour billions of dollars into research and development.  Which is why the NHS’ new hepatitis C drug comes from the US (see Merck’s hepatitis C drug wins UK cost endorsement by Ben Hirschler posted 3/9/2012 on Reuters).

U.S. drug maker Merck & Co’s new hepatitis C drug Victrelis was recommended for use within Britain’s state health service on Friday, despite its hefty price tag.

Critics will say that we shouldn’t allow Merck to charge so much for their drug.  That it is wrong to profit off of disease.  That the US should stop this price gouging like they do in the UK.  So should we?  Well, to answer that question all you have to do is to consider who made this new hepatitis C drug.  And who was that?  The US, of course.  Because Merck COULD charge this much for their drug.  Which just goes to show you that when you want the best you’re better off relying on the profit system than altruism.  Because profits provide incentive to make the best.  While altruism doesn’t.

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Birth Control and Abortion Activists attack the Catholic Church while Islamic States kill Gays and Lesbians

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Christians and Jews are under pressure for their beliefs.  And their existence.  The recent attacks against the Catholic Church by the Obama administration forced the church to defend its Constitutional protections from such state interference.  Catholic theology does not permit the use of birth control.  Or abortions.  Obamacare tried to force Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage that paid for birth control and abortion.  Even though it’s a violation of conscience for Catholics.  You can support and advocate the use of birth control and abortion.  You just can’t be Catholic if you do.  At least, according to Catholic theology.

Christians are constantly being maligned for their opposition to gay marriage.  And their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  People calling this Christian position archaic.  And out of touch.  That not only do Christians hate women (because they preach abstinence instead of birth control and abortion) they also hate gays and lesbians.  Some going so far to say that Christians are persecuting gays and lesbians.  In a cruel and oppressive theocracy.

Jews living in Israel live under the constant threat of rocket and mortar fire into their cities.  The surrounding Arab lands want to replace the state of Israel with a Palestinian state.  Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to recognize the state of Israel and fight for its destruction.  The Islamist state of Iran feels the same way.  And funds and supplies Hezbollah and Hamas in their Israeli attacks.  Despite all of this hostility against the state of Israel, the most important and loyal US ally in the region, there are those in the US that want Israel to surrender land and go back to the pre 1967 borders.  Borders that would greatly weaken Israel’s ability to defend herself.  This despite the fact that Israel is the greatest democracy in the region.  Where Jew, Christian, Muslim, straight and gay all live with the same rights and protections in the Israeli state.  Which is a lot more than you can say about some other nations in the region (see ‘Emo’ killings raise alarms in Iraq by LARA JAKES, Associated Press, posted 3/11/2012 on Yahoo! News).

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone — forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks…

Like many places in the Muslim world, homosexuality is extremely taboo in Iraq. Anyone perceived to be gay is considered a fair target, and the perpetrators of the violence often go free. The militants likely behind the violence intimidate the local police and residents so there is even less incentive to investigate the crimes.

Emo is short for “emotional” and in the West generally identifies teens or young adults who listen to alternative music, dress in black, and have radical hairstyles. Emos are not necessarily gay, but they are sometimes stereotyped as such…

The Quran specifically forbids homosexuality, and Islamic militias in Iraq long have targeted gays in what they term “honor killings” to preserve the religious idea that families should be led by a husband and a wife. Those who do not abide by this belief are issued death sentences by the militias, according to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, a human rights watchdog group. The same militias target women who have extramarital affairs…

He said an estimated 750 gay Iraqis have been killed because of their sexual orientation since 2006.

America is not the brutal theocracy some would claim it to be.  At least nothing like that in the Islamic world.  Where there is no separation of church and state.  And no tolerance to those who don’t toe the state religion line.  Yet people in America attack Christianity and Judaism.  But are pretty mum on Islam.  Deferring to their cultural and religious beliefs.  Unlike they will for Christianity and Judaism.  Case in point the recent pressure on Catholic institutions to pay for birth control and abortion.

Where do you think these religious critics would rather live?  Especially the gay and lesbian community?  The United States?  Israel?  Iraq.  Or Iran?  A rhetorical question.  For it is clear they would rather choose the intolerance in America or Israel over the intolerance in Iraq or Iran any day.  Because the intolerance in American and Israel stops at moralizing.  It doesn’t advocate the use of cement blocks.

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Japan shutters 52 of 54 Nuclear Reactors because of Fukushima, Energy Imports cause Trade Deficit

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

The two oil crises in the Seventies hurt Japan’s economy.  Because the Japanese have little domestic energy sources.  Which means they have to import most of their energy.  Coal.  Natural gas.  And, of course, oil.  After suffering the economic fallout of two oil crises in one decade they made a decision to prevent that from happening a third time.  By diversifying their energy industry.  And going nuclear.  Increasing the amount of electricity produced by nuclear power to almost 25%.  Which helped to insulate them from another economic shock.  But that all changed with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster (see Japan reports record current account deficit posted 3/7/2012 on BBC News Business).

Japan has reported a record current account deficit because of rising energy imports, as the country’s economic recovery remains fragile…

In the aftermath of the 11 March 2011 tsunami and earthquake that triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, Japan shut 52 out of 54 reactors.

This led to shortages of fuel for generating electricity, which meant more of it had to be imported…

The yen slipped to trade at 81.26 to the US dollar, as the trade deficit raised fears about how long Japan would be able to manage its large public debt.

The massive earthquake created the massive tsunami.  The tidal surge of the tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  An extremely rare event.  It has only happened once in the era of nuclear power.  In fact, the nuclear part of the reactor survived all of this.  It was the old technology that didn’t.  The electrical distribution equipment.  Because it was located in the basement.  Which became flooded with sea water.  Which disabled the electrically driven cooling pumps from operating.  Despite backup generator power being available. 

The technology exists to move electrical distribution equipment to higher ground.  And to waterproof it.  There exists power cables rated for underwater use even.  There is no technological hurdle preventing the kind of electrical updates to prevent another extremely rare event causing another electrical failure like at Fukushima again.  And they’re simple projects, really.   Build new distribution equipment on high ground where a tidal surge can’t reach it.  And rerouting critical systems to this new distribution equipment.  You could do this.  Or you could shut down 52 of your 54 reactors for political reasons.  And import more fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) to make up for the energy shortfall.  Increasing your trade deficit.  And risking your ability to pay one of the highest debt loads of any state (as a percentage of GDP).

One thing you can’t do, though, is make up this energy shortfall with solar or wind power.  Because the cost of building the infrastructure to produce that much energy is prohibitive.  And the power it produces is too unreliable.  For sometimes the sun doesn’t shine.  And sometimes the wind doesn’t blow.  So to please the antinuclear environmentalists who fear another extremely rare event from happening they have to replace clean energy (nuclear generated) with dirty energy (fossil fuel-generated).  Which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Then again, political decisions rarely do.

To put this into perspective consider this.  Your odds of lightning striking you are greater than you winning the lotto.  Yet your chances of winning the lotto are greater than another Fukushima from happening.  And people will buy lotto tickets.  But they shun nuclear programs.  Unless, that is, a rogue regime is using it to enrich uranium that could also be used to make a nuclear bomb.  And that regime is Islamist.  Which wants to conquer the world.  Strange how Japan has to shut down their nuclear program while Iran doesn’t.  A country, incidentally, that sits on huge petroleum reserves.  And doesn’t need nuclear power.

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