Too Sick or too Old? Sorry, no Health Care for You in the NHS or in Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Critics of Obamacare warned that this national health care system would contain death panels.  Too sick or too old?  Sorry, no health care for you.  That’s ridiculous said the supporters of Obamacare.  There was no mention of ‘death panels’ anywhere in the bill.  And there’s probably no mention of death panels in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).  But elderly patients are left to die all of the time.  Precisely because they are too old (see Sentenced to death for being old: The NHS denies life-saving treatment to the elderly, as one man’s chilling story reveals by John Naish posted 4/6/2012 on the Daily Mail).

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.

Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team…

Sadly, Kenneth’s story is symptomatic of a dreadful truth. According to shocking new research by Macmillan Cancer Support, every year many thousands of older people are routinely denied life-saving NHS treatments because their doctors write them off as too old to treat…

This kind of ‘professional opinion’ appears to be costing more than 14,000 lives each year, thanks to routine discrimination by doctors who assume older patients are too frail for surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. 

This is according to experts at Macmillan Cancer Support, who warned last week that every day up to 40 elderly cancer sufferers are dying needlessly because they are being denied the best treatments. This is particularly true, it says, for patients over the age of 70.

The charity estimates that if the treatment of older patients matched that on offer in the U.S., as many as 14,000 lives could be saved every year…

Last week, the respected health research charity, the King’s Fund, warned that prejudice about older people means they often go without treatment for conditions such as depression, and are not even tested for illnesses such as heart disease.

This is despite huge advances in medical care which mean that patients can now successfully undergo major surgery at ages where they would not previously be expected to survive.

In America, doctors pioneering the field of ‘geriatric surgery’ regularly perform open-heart surgery on people in their 90s…

Last year, research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network found evidence of widespread age-based discrimination in the NHS on women with breast cancer.

Its study of 23,000 sufferers found that 90 per cent of those aged 30 to 50 are offered surgery to remove tumours, compared to 82 per cent of those aged 60 to 70, and 70 per cent of those in their 70s…

So if you’re elderly and you live in America you better get your health care fast.  Before Obamacare kicks in.  And decides you’re too old to treat.  For if they’re doing it in the NHS they’ll be doing it in Obamacare.  Not because they are mean and hate old people.  But simply because of the economics.  Doctors will advise families that there is no money to spend on their loved ones.  But don’t be upset.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s just business.

It is ironic that the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) supported Obamacare as they are supposed to represent the elderly that pay their membership fees.  Why you ask would they do something like this?  Well, they sell insurance policies to seniors that pay for what Medicare doesn’t cover.  Medigap policies.  And to get AARP onboard with Obamacare the new health care law exempts AARP from pricing formulas restricting the amount of their premiums spent on non-health services.  Allowing them to charge higher premiums than Obamacare allows other insurers to charge.  At least according to The Daily Caller.  So when Obamacare denies seniors life-saving treatments AARP can tell their families not to be upset.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s just business.

Advocates of national health care like to point to the NHS and say that is the model to follow.  And we are now moving in that direction with Obamacare.  Which can mean only one thing.  Death panels will follow.  Even though they are not specifically mentioned in the bill.  Because when it comes down to it health care is a game of numbers.  Accounting decisions.  Especially when the government runs it.  And the only way to control costs is by rationing services.  And what better way to ration services than by simply withholding them from the greatest consumers of those services?  The elderly.  Don’t think it will happen?  Just look at the NHS.  That is our future.  Where health care isn’t about doing what’s right for the patient.  But controlling costs.  But it’s nothing personal.  It’s just business.

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A Glimpse of Obamacare through the Death of a Child in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

The problem with health care everywhere is twofold.  Our aging populations.  And our longer life spans that allow people to have more illnesses.  So improvements in medicine are compounding the problem.  By allowing people to live longer so they can consume more medical services.  And unlike manufacturing we can’t use new technology to increase efficiencies.  At least not yet.  So the only way to control costs is to spend less.  Treating only those who are sick.  And sending those who are not quickly on their way.  A health care triage system.  Where they quickly weed out the non-sick to make room for the sick.  To make sure they don’t waste their limited funds and services on those who don’t need it. 

It works well on paper.  But it has one serious drawback in practice.  The ‘assembly line’ triage can only catch the glaringly obvious.  Like a missing leg.  Or blood squirting out of a cut artery.  But if everything looks okay on the outside and the standard tests come back negative, doctors can discharge a patient.  Missing something a little more rare and unusual.  Like dehydration and kidney failure in an otherwise healthy child (see Doctors failed to spot toddler’s fatal illness on THREE occasions before he died by Jill Reilly posted 4/6/2012 on the Daily Mail).

A devastated mother is demanding to find out why her young son died after medics sent him home three times in less than two weeks. 

Harry Connolly died of dehydration and acute kidney failure after medics repeatedly failed to diagnose his illness…

Mrs Connolly said: ‘The fact remains that Harry died as a result of dehydration and acute renal failure despite being admitted to hospital twice and attended by an out-of-hours doctor in the space of just five days.

‘He would have survived if he’d remained in hospital from 26 April and fully rehydrated, he would have survived had he been readmitted on 28 April, and would have survived had the out-of-hours doctor referred him to be readmitted on 29 April.

Suppose the doctors admitted a similar child who proved not to be sick.  Taking a bed in pediatrics.  Taking a doctor away from other patients.  Taking nurses away from those more ill.  Taking up time on diagnostic equipment that they could have used on others actually ill.  Perhaps pushing back someone else in line.  Who may die because of the delay.  Then the doctor responsible for admitting a healthy child has to stand before an administrator.  To explain the waste of resources.  The death of a patient they couldn’t save thanks to the waste of said resources.  And the unnecessary expense of all those tests on a healthy child.  Exceeding the department’s budget.

Sadly, these are real concerns for those in the health care industry today.  Especially in national health care systems.  Like Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).  That are bursting at the seams because of the explosion in costs because of that aging population.  And their longer lives.  Taxing available resources so much that doctors have to carefully ration health care services.  To make sure that they are available for the patients who need them most.

This is the world of national health care.  Where you try to take care of everyone.  With resources that can’t save everyone.  Where the rationing of services leaves some to die.  And causes others to die that they could have saved had they only spent a few more moments on their diagnosis.  So if you want a glimpse into the world of Obamacare, here it is.  It will be like the NHS.  Only bigger.  And because it’s bigger it won’t be as good as the NHS.  Which is the problem with health care for everyone.  We don’t have resources to cover everyone in a national system.  Because the bureaucracy to run it will consume so much of the budget.  Requiring some sort of triage system.  Or death panels.  To ration those limited services.  To choose who to save.  And who to send home.  To let nature take its course.

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Passenger Rail losing Money in Vancouver like they do Pretty Much Everywhere

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Governments love trains.  Not because they’re good economic models.  They’re not.  Unless you’re hauling heavy freight.  No.  They love them because they are so costly.  And require lots of workers from union construction workers to union maintenance people to union operators.  And that’s a lot of votes.  Which is why governments love trains.  And hate gasoline and the freedom it gives their people (see TransLink revenue took a hit despite higher ridership, cross-border gas trips by Andrea Woo posted 4/5/2012 on The Vancouver Sun).

Ridership grew on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system last year, but wavering revenues from TransLink’s gas tax and lower-than-expected use of the Golden Ears Bridge contributed to the transportation authority’s deficit, according to its annual report…

TransLink attributes the shortfall to a 5.9-per-cent decrease in fuel sales volume last year, brought on by high gas prices. Drivers also likely fuelled up in neighbouring regions, such as the Fraser Valley Regional District and Whatcom County, according to the report…

The gas tax, which is applied to gasoline and diesel fuel sales in Metro Vancouver, rose two cents to 17 cents per litre on April 1.

Meanwhile, ridership grew 8.6 per cent in 2011, with a total of about 233 million paid trips during the year. That figure is 18.5 million more than the target goal for the year, according to the report…

“Although [the bridge] experienced growth in traffic volumes over 2010, it was not to the level assumed in the budget,” the report stated. “Another contributing factor to the lower revenues were the toll discounts provided in April and May for off-peak and weekend travel.”

The TransLink Golden Ears Bridge Task Force is working on a number of initiatives to increase revenue and “enhance customer convenience,” according to the report. They include a public awareness and education program, market research and real-time web monitoring of traffic conditions on the bridge.

Most passenger trains lose money.  Because they are poor economic models.  Due to the costly infrastructure they require.  Other than the Bullet Train in Japan and the TGV in France no passenger train can pay for itself.  And that’s only a total of two lines that can.  So all passenger rail requires government subsidies to survive.  And it’s no different in Vancouver.

In Vancouver they have a 17 cents gas tax per liter of gas.  Which is about $0.64 per gallon.  Which is pretty high.  If you fill up a 17 gallon gas tank that’s about $11 in taxes.  So if you’re wondering why gas is so expensive here’s your answer.  Of course if you’re going to penalize people for using gasoline people are going to use less gasoline.  Which can be a problem if you’re funding your passenger rail with gasoline taxes.

To reduce congestion on the Golden Ears Bridge they’ve offered discounts to cross during off-peak hours.  Because gas taxes are so high people take advantage of the lower toll and travel off-peak hours.  Which can be a problem if you’re funding your passenger rail with a tax on bridge tolls.  But they’re trying to “enhance customer convenience.”  And based on what they just said that can only mean finding a way to make people pay more.  By either removing the discount toll and increasing congestion during peak hours.  Or increasing the toll.  Whichever they choose the result won’t enhance anyone but the taxing authority.

Perhaps they should cut the gas tax and the toll tax.  Which will encourage more gasoline purchases.  Increasing tax revenue even at the lower gas tax rate.  And making the streets so congested that people will avoid it by leaving their cars at home in favor of using passenger rail.  This increase in economic activity will translate into more sales and other taxes for the taxing authority. 

Counterintuitive, yes, for government officials.  But they should give it a try.  Better yet, in the future, they should just say ‘no’ to passenger rail and save themselves this headache in the first place.  And stick with busses.  Which are a far more successful economic model.

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The new Egyptian Government may be Islamist and more Oppressive than the Mubarak Regime

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Egypt is changing.  And not the way the college students and protesters had hoped when they rose up against Hosni Mubarak.  Much like similar protesters were to be disappointed during the Iranian Revolution (see Seeking support amid Islamist split, Egypt’s Brotherhood promises Muslim clerics say in power by the Associated Press posted 4/4/2012 on The Washington Post).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s presidency is lobbying hard for support of ultraconservative Muslim clerics, promising them a say over legislation in the future to ensure it is in line with Islamic law, as he tries to rally the divided Islamist vote behind him…

Giving Muslim clerics a direct say over legislation would be unprecedented in Egypt. Specifics of the Brotherhood promise, which Salafi clerics said Wednesday the candidate Khairat el-Shater gave them in a backroom meeting, were not known. But any clerical role would certainly raise a backlash from liberal and moderate Egyptians who already fear Islamists will sharply restrict civil rights as they gain political power after the fall last year of President Hosni Mubarak.

Unprecedented in Egypt, perhaps.  But very much expected as it is exactly what happened following the Iranian Revolution.  And not just a little like it but a lot like it.  The Shah of Iran was a little too friendly to the West.  So young college students and ‘reformers’ overthrew the ruthless dictator that was keeping them freer than they had the good sense to know.  By preventing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.  The clerics kept promising that they didn’t want Sharia law.  Until they didn’t have to promise it anymore.  After they had subjected all Iranians to Sharia law.  Those college students went on to miss that ruthless dictator.  The Shah of Iran.  And the freedoms they once enjoyed under him.

Salafis are the most hard-line of Egypt’s fundamentalists, depicting themselves as the “guardians of Shariah” and touting a strict interpretation of Islamic law similar to Saudi Arabia’s. Many of them see the Brotherhood as too willing to compromise on implementing Shariah and despise its political pragmatism.

Like Saudi Arabia?  Yeah, we wish.  Saudi Arabia is a friend and ally of the U.S. whose interests in the regions are peace and stability.  Yes, let’s hope that if Egypt goes Islamic that it is another Sunni Saudi Arabia and not another Shiite Iran.  Who has but one goal.  The destruction of Israel, the United States and all other Western interests that don’t condemn Israel or the United States.  The Iranians support terrorist organizations that disrupt peace and stability.  The Saudis don’t.  Yes, Osama bin Laden’s funding came from the Wahhabi in Saudi Arabia.  But the Saudis didn’t sponsor them.  They feared them.  For the Wahhabi hate the House of Saud as much as they hate the Americans.  Which makes them very much unlike Iran.  And far more preferable than Iran.  For any government that is hated by extreme Islamists has to be better than an extreme Islamists.

Mohammed Habib, who was the Brotherhood’s deputy leader at that time, says the platform item was for a body of clerics simply to advise lawmakers, but that some in the group wanted it to have a more powerful role to vet legislation…

Tharwat el-Kherbawi, a former Brotherhood member who fell out with the group, said the council appeared similar to Iran’s system of clerical “guardians” over the elected government.

Goodbye Egypt.  And hello Iran.

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Cuba is Turning to Capitalism to Fix their Socialist Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Change is coming to Cuba.  A good kind of change.  They’re making a move from communism towards capitalism.  A move no doubt that will sadden a great number of beloved Hollywood actors (see Yes, they’re abierto: Cubans open their doors to small business by Ken Ellingwood posted 4/5/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

Since President Raul Castro loosened the island’s commerce rules to energize the economy, Cubans all over are pondering how to get in on the wave…

The reform, announced in late 2010, is fast taking root around Havana’s weather-worn downtown and in other cities and towns, prompting Cubans all over to ponder how to get in on the wave…

The sudden wave of entrepreneurship has brought with it shades of cutthroat capitalism.

Garcia said a rival nail shop across the street was undercutting her price for a manicure, $1. But she planned to hold tight…

One vendor said he quit a decent-paying government job last year to strike out on his own, getting a license to sell hardware at the entrance to his home. His “store” is basically a chest heaped with light fixtures, electrical cables, fittings, valves and pieces of rubber hose.

The budding businessman, who declined to give his name, said his earnings of up to $20 a day top his old salary, despite the permit fee and the ups and downs of a merchant’s life…

The reform has boosted the number of small enterprises in Cuba to more than 350,000 since the government of President Raul Castro moved to coax more out of Cuba’s economy and ease the load on the treasury by shaving the bloated public payroll.

Very interesting.  More capitalism is revitalizing weather-worn downtown areas.  And it’s already lowering consumer prices.  And these stores?  Imagine that.  You can’t do that in America.  For you need permits and inspections.  You need the fire marshal to approve of your egress lighting and egress paths.  All of which costs.  Which is why his $20 daily earnings can exceed his government wages.  And perhaps the most interesting of all is the shrinking of the public sector.

My god, can it be?  Is Cuba on a more capitalistic path than America.  Yes, it can be.  First the Berlin Wall falls.  Then the Soviet Union.  Now Cuba.  What will be next?  But more importantly, how will this affect Ed Asner?  The actor who played the beloved character Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Show?  Whose leftist socialist activism stopped few from still finding a soft spot in their heart for Lou Grant.  Our favorite curmudgeon.  Even though he loves Cuba.  And hates capitalism.  So how will the news of his socialist Cuba going capitalist affect him?  To have Cuba admit that the policies that Asner supported and believed in were wrong?  Will it change his mind?  Probably not.  He’ll probably just say that Raul is betraying his brother Fidel.  And then he’ll try to find a ‘Ted Baxter’ to yell at.

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Study finds that the Liberal Policies Like that Favored by President Obama make People Unhappy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Money can’t buy happiness.  A new study proves it.  For it’s not buying the richest country in the world happiness.  So there is something else apparently that leads to a people’s happiness (see Canada among the happiest countries in the world by Tavia Grant posted 4/2/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

It finds the world has, broadly speaking, become a “little happier” in the past three decades, as living standards have risen. (One exception is the United States, where life satisfaction has not improved).

Interesting.  Life satisfaction in America hasn’t improved.  I wonder why.  And what are the things that make people more satisfied in life.  Here are some of those things according to this study.

•Happier countries tend to be richer ones. But more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom.

•Unemployment causes as much unhappiness as bereavement or separation. At work, job security and good relationships do more for job satisfaction than high pay and convenient hours.

•Behaving well makes people happier.

•Mental health is the biggest single factor affecting happiness in any country. Yet only a quarter of mentally ill people get treatment for their condition in advanced countries and fewer still in poorer countries.

•Stable family life and enduring marriages are important for the happiness of parents and children.

•In advanced countries, women are happier than men, while the position in poorer countries is mixed.

•Happiness is lowest in middle age.

Liberal Democrats are all for bigger government.  Continuously raising taxes to pay for it.  The federal budget has exploded as a result.  As has the debt.  For despite the vast wealth they’re taxing out of the private sector it isn’t enough.  And as it is anywhere where people manage large piles of money there is corruption.  The bigger the pile the bigger the corruption.  And so it is with government.  Just look at the billions thrown away on pork barrel spending on worthless projects like the Murtha Airport.  This kind of out of control corrupt pork barrel spending makes people unhappy.  Apparently they would be happier with a government that lives responsibly within their means like they have to.  At least, according to this study.

High taxes and onerous regulatory compliance costs are squeezing small business.  Millionaire entrepreneurs of yesteryear say they couldn’t do what they did today.  The explosion in new regulatory law just squashes innovation.  It’s simply too costly and too complicated to go into business.  There are so many laws that it impossible to know them all.  Unless you’re a lawyer.  And lawyers are about the only ones who understand these laws.  Or, at least, understand them enough.  So they can sue any business for violating some obscure law the business owner is unaware of.  And they do this all the time.  It’s legal extortion.  For business owners find it cheaper to settle out of court just to make the lawyers go away.  As a result this active interventionist government pushed by liberal Democrats is a drag on job creation.  Whose answer is more benefits for the unemployed rather than helping the job creators.  This tenuous job environment makes workers feel less secure in their own jobs.  And less happy.  According to this study.

Liberals attack religion and their moralizing.  They attack conservatives and their moralizing.  Liberals instead prefer fewer restraints placed on life.  For who is to say what is right and wrong?  So they favor relaxed drug laws.  Free contraceptives.  Abortion on demand.  And as much consequence-free fun as they can have.  In public places.  And in quiet neighborhoods.  Where property damage is just kids blowing off a little steam.  I mean, who hasn’t done a donut on a neighbor’s lawn because they told them to be quiet at 2 in the morning?  Well it turns out people prefer having quiet church-going people for neighbors.  Who treat people with respect and behave well when in public.  These are the people that make other people happy.  According to this study, at least.

LBJ was a big liberal Democrat.  His Great Society was a bonanza of welfare benefits for the poor.  Especially for single mothers.  The government said to these single moms, “Look, you don’t need a husband in your life.  We will provide for you and your children.  We’ll even provide public housing for you to live in.  So you don’t need a husband.  And your children don’t need a father.  We can be all of that for you.”  Well, the worse place to live was in public housing during the Seventies.  Where crime and drugs use was rampant.  With no stable family structure kids of single parents turned to the street.  And crime.  Taking that behavior into their schools.  Spreading the trouble.  Having the government take over the role of family was like introducing a cancer into a healthy being.  And it spreads still to this day.  The idea that family isn’t important.  And that government can provide.  But more government has only made people less happy.  At least, according to this study.

The policies of liberal Democrats encourage irresponsible behavior.  Consequence-free fun.  They’ve attacked religion and tried to remove it from everyday life.  To the point that people today have very little if any moral compass.  Young women have babies out of wedlock.  Some of these mothers sacrifice everything in a herculean struggle to raise their children.  Working and sacrificing everything for their children.  Even a happy family life with a husband and father that would have made children rearing easier.  Some single mothers are superheroes.  Some are not.  And neither as are happy as a family with two parents providing for and nurturing their children.  And having time to spend with them in their childhood because they’re not working a second or third job.

So this is why America has not improved in the area of life satisfaction.  Because of the extraordinary growth of liberal Democrat policies.  The very things that lead people to be less happy.  At least, according to this new study.

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