The High Cost of National Health Care is causing the NHS to Close Hospitals in Wales

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

Proponents of Obamacare want a full-blown national health care system like the British NHS.  Because that’s the only way to guarantee quality health care for all Americans.  And not just those who can afford it.  The problem with the American system, they say, is the pursuit of profits.  Making money on people’s ill health.  Which is just wrong.  And immoral.  Only when they remove the profit incentive can the American health care system approach the British model.  And become a health care utopia.  Where they provide everything for everyone.  And no one ever has to worry about their health care needs (see South Wales hospital shake-up plans defended posted 9/27/2012 on BBC News Wales).

Health bosses have defended proposals to concentrate some specialist hospital services in south Wales in four or five locations.

The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have expressed concerns that the plans could see key local health services downgraded or closed…

The current shape of NHS in south Wales is based on a model of district general hospitals developed in the 1960s.

But the health boards say that is unsuited to deal with modern pressures on the health service.

Centralising some services, such as high-level care for children and newborn babies, in fewer large hospitals would allow patients to get access to the best care around the clock, they said.

Unless, apparently, you live in south Wales.  Where that ‘everything for everyone’ turns out to be really, really expensive.  And the only way they can afford to pay for that is by making people travel further for their health care needs.  As they ration services to fewer larger hospitals.  That turns health care into an economies of scale, assembly line-like production model.  To maximize the health care services a shrinking number of doctors can provide.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said it was essential patients had safe, sustainable services as close to home as possible – and the status quo was not an option.

But the Conservatives said the plans would lead to the downgrading of hospitals, and blamed the Welsh government for failing to recruit enough doctors.

Andrew RT Davies, Tory leader in the assembly, told BBC Wales: “[The current system] is unsustainable because they are unable to find the clinicians to fill the rotas.

“It is my contention this is happening because the health service in Wales has been starved of cash, and the Welsh government, and Carwyn Jones as particular as first minister, has failed to fill the medical rosters by supporting the health boards in recruiting doctors into Wales.”

Starved for cash?  Has failed to fill the medical rosters?  Failed to recruit doctors to Wales?  Doesn’t sound much like a health care utopia to me.   Apparently that national health care system simply can’t afford to provide everything for everyone.  At least without making them travel awhile for their health care needs.

This is the future of Obamacare.  When you start providing everything for everyone costs rise.  And when costs rise you don’t have many options.  You can cut pay and benefits of your health care providers.  A major cost of any health care system.  But if you don’t pay doctors well it won’t encourage people to become doctors.  And let’s face it, it isn’t easy to be a doctor.  That’s why we pay doctors a lot.  To encourage them to do these hard jobs that so few of us are willing to do.

So you can only cut pay and benefits so far.  In fact the best you’ll probably be able to do is to decrease further pay increases.  So that leaves the only other alternative.  Rationing.  Closing hospitals and making people travel further for their health care needs.  Which the NHS is doing in Wales.  And Obamacare will be doing everywhere in the U.S.  Because costs are costs. Whatever the NHS goes through any other national health care system will go through.  So if they ration services Obamacare will ration services.

And, of course, Obamacare will raise taxes.  For awhile.  Until they can raise taxes no more.  Like the British can no longer do.  So the NHS is closing hospitals.  Like Obamacare will eventually do in the United States.  As Obamacare turns to the last cost saving measure.  Rationing.  Which will include those death panels.

Some health care utopia, huh?

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The NHS does not provide Long-Term Elderly Care just as Obamacare will not provide Long-Term Elderly Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

The Liberal Democrats in Britain don’t care much for the elderly.  For they are just too costly.  And there are other social programs that are competing for these valuable but limited government funds.  Which can be put to far better use buying votes (see Reforming elderly care is not the biggest priority, says Danny Alexander by Rowena Mason posted 9/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

Reforming elderly care is not the biggest priority and just one of many problems on the “long term horizon”, Danny Alexander, a Treasury minister, has said.

The Liberal Democrat denied reports that the Treasury is “blocking” elderly care reforms but fuelled fears it is being kicked into the long grass.

Mr Alexander said the Coalition will “take forward the Dilnot plans” for an individual cap on costs to stop so many elderly people having to sell their homes to pay for care.

This no doubt comes as a shock to most Americans.  Who thought the National Health Service (NHS) provided all British health care needs.   All the way right up to the grave.  But even in the utopian world of national health care the NHS cannot afford long-term elderly care.  Just as Obamacare will not be able to afford long-term elderly care.  Which the Americans will have to provide for themselves just as the British must provide for themselves.

Not only will Obamacare not provide long-term elderly care it will be rationing out health care to the elderly.  Where some callous bureaucrat will say that someone’s loved one will not qualify for anything other than a pill to manage his or her pain.  The so-called death panels included in Obamacare.  Though not called death panels.  But for all intents and purposes are death panels.  As some callous government bureaucrat will have the power of life or death over you.

However, he stressed there are “lots of other social care pressures” and competing priorities, including the needs of vulnerable people with low incomes.

In other words, British death panels.  That will choose when and where they will spend limited government funds.  And when it comes down to a dying old person versus a younger worker who, if he or she survives, will pay more income taxes, guess who they will spend those limited funds on?

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury was speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, where delegates are pushing for more wealth taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance.

Mr Alexander said the taxman could raise huge amounts of money by making Britons with offshore accounts “play by the rules”. Recovering cash due from accounts in Lichtenstein alone could raise up to £3 billion, Mr Alexander said.

He also said the Liberal Democrats would like higher taxes on the rich to pay for tax cuts for the poor.

Classic class warfare.  Cut down on tax avoidance so more people can avoid paying taxes at the lower end.  Tax the few so the many don’t have to pay taxes.  And, of course, the many will vote for those who further raise the taxes on the few.  Or put in another way, buying votes.

Of course, this doesn’t help the elderly with their long-term care.  But it will provide more benefits for the masses that will vote for Liberal Democrats.  Just as a good policy of class warfare should do.  Buy votes as efficiently as possible.  For there is only so much money available to buy votes with.  Especially when health care consumes so much of these precious, limited, government funds.

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One Former Australian Bank Official accuses the Elderly of using $100 Notes in Massive Welfare Fraud

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

What’s the biggest problem of a welfare state?  Fraud.  Which large piles of money always seems to attract.  As well as changing personal behavior.  Some are even saying it’s turning the elderly into the greatest fraudsters in all of Australia (see Pensioners fume at welfare fraud claims by Henrietta Cook posted 9/25/2012 on The Sydney Morning Herald).

Former senior Reserve Bank official Peter Mair said elderly Australians were committing welfare fraud on a massive scale and are behind the extraordinarily high number of $100 notes in circulation…

Yesterday, BusinessDay revealed there are now 10 $100 notes in circulation for each Australian, far more than the more commonly seen $20 notes…

In a letter to the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, dated July 4, Mr Mair laid the blame squarely on elderly people wanting to get the pension and hiding their income in cash to ensure they qualified for the means-tested benefit.

If you have too much income or too much money in the bank you could have too much wealth to qualify for a means-tested pension.  So the former senior Reserve Bank official is suggesting that people close to retirement are withdrawing their money from the bank to draw down their bank accounts to more easily qualify for those means-tested pensions.  And those $100 bills make it easy to hide piles of cash in a pensioner’s house.  Perhaps needing only one well hid suitcase full of $100 bills to hold all of those bank withdrawals.  At least, that is what the former senior Reserve Bank official is suggesting.

Finance Minister Penny Wong has warned elderly pensioners to properly declare their incomes. Senator Wong said today she had “not been looking looking under pensioners’ beds lately”.

“But I would say we have a system of means testing for access to the pension and people are required to declare their assets and their income in order to access them,” she told reporters in Canberra…

Mr Mair said that in 1996 when the green plastic $100 note replaced the grey paper note, the Martin Place headquarters of the Reserve received regular visits from retirees wanting to withdraw large quantities of the new notes. He said the commercial banks had sent them to the Reserve because they did not have enough $100 notes on hand.

Mr Mair said the return for an Australian close to getting the pension who held $10,000 in cash, rather than declaring it, was “enormous”.

“If putting it under the bed or in a cupboard means you qualify for the pensioner card, you get discounted council rates, discounted car registration, discounted phone rental – in percentage terms the return is enormous,” he said.

So there is a clear advantage to hiding your wealth.  Which the high denomination bills allow one to do.  So the obvious solution to this alleged welfare fraud would be to eliminate those high denomination bills.

His letter to the governor proposes phasing out the $100 and $50 denominations.

“Cards and the internet have delivered a body blow to high-denomination bank notes. They are redundant,” he said. “There is no longer any point in issuing them except to facilitate tax dodging. The authorities would announce that from, say, June 2015 every $100 and $50 note could be redeemed but no new notes would be issued. After June 2017 every note could only be redeemed at an annual discount of 10 per cent. It would mean that, after two years, each $100 note could only be redeemed for $80, and so on.”

Or perhaps they could lower tax rates.  If they are using these $100 bills for tax evasion perhaps taxes are just too high.  Apparently there is an underground cash economy solely to evade or mitigate taxes like the GST and the carbon tax.  It would appear they could come out further ahead if they just cut taxes instead of having all of these taxes (and tax enforcement) for a welfare state that people may be gaming.  It would be so much cheaper for people to pay their own way and not provide for everyone else (as well as the environment) through these excessive taxes that people aggressively try to evade.

The events happening in Australia provide an answer to the commonly asked question.  Are we taxed too much?  A question the Australians are clearly answering in the affirmative.  As most people feel who have a GST as well as a carbon tax.

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Thieves are Stealing Medical Equipment and Personal Information from the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

Thomas Jefferson did not like having money and government get too close.  Because history is strewn with examples of corruption whenever money and government come together.  From padding the federal payroll to spending money to buying votes to outright graft.  Which is why Thomas Jefferson would have opposed Obamacare.  For he would have thought it was not the federal government’s business to provide health care.  And he definitely would not have wanted the federal government spending that kind of tax money.

We spend a lot on health care.  About $2.6 trillion today.  And another bad thing about spending that kind of money?  Government bureaucrats just aren’t that good at it.  So you know Obamacare won’t be as good as the health care provided by the private sector.  Just look at what’s happening in the UK to see the future of Obamacare when the government takes responsibility for $2.6 trillion in health care spending (see The great hospital robbery: Defibrillators, baby heart monitors, even beds – thieves are walking out of NHS wards with vital equipment by John Naish posted 9/24/2012 on Mail Online).

The great hospital robbery: Defibrillators, baby heart monitors, even beds – thieves are walking out of NHS wards with vital equipment…

Experts suggest they are spiriting it abroad, to Eastern Europe or even as far afield as Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, shockingly, NHS staff are sometimes involved, acting as an ‘inside man’.

But if such thefts are not scandalous enough in themselves, NHS chiefs appear to be so blasé about the losses they don’t even have a national picture of how much equipment is being stolen, let alone a comprehensive anti-theft strategy…

To make matters worse, NHS trusts can’t claim for the stolen property, says Sarah Bailey of the Association of British Insurers.

‘The NHS does not tend to take out commercial insurance policies. Instead, it “self-insures”, which means it absorbs the cost of its losses, rather than taking out policies that could be expensive.’

As she points out: ‘Ultimately, it could be the taxpayer who funds those losses.’

Of course government bureaucrats aren’t going to get excited about theft.  Why should they care?  It’s not their money.  And it’s not their job.  Besides the losses won’t come out of anyone’s pay.  They’ll just pass the losses on to the taxpayers.  Something they can’t do in the private sector.  Which is why they take loss prevention a bit more seriously in the private sector.  Because there is accountability in the private sector.  And profits.  So they put people in places to minimize anything that will reduce those profits.  Like theft.  Something the NHS appears to be not overly concerned about.  Pity.  For they are stealing more than just medical equipment.

Laptops used by hospital staff are the most frequent target of hospital thieves, which could mean millions of people’s personal details and medical records have fallen into the hands of criminals.

In June last year, for example, NHS North Central London admitted that an apparently unencrypted laptop, containing details of more than eight million patients, was one of 20 machines reported stolen from a storeroom.

When computer thefts result in the loss of sensitive information on patients, this has to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the independent public authority set up to uphold information rights.

Figures from the ICO show that the NHS is the top sector for such losses, with significantly more incidents than the whole of the private sector put together…

And this is the future under Obamacare.  Greater inefficiencies because of theft.  And greater theft of personal information.  Which there will be a lot of available to steal as Obamacare digitizes all our medical records.  So as we move to national health care it will cost more and we will get less.  As they spend a lot of our tax dollars to replace stolen equipment thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the government bureaucrats in charge of Obamacare.  While we spend more to replace what others steal from us thanks to their lackadaisical attitude about securing our personal information.

Sure, some say Obamacare will do better than the NHS.  But to them I say the NHS probably does national health care better than most.  And after doing it since 1948 they’ll be able to do it better than the Americans will be able to do it just starting out.  Only it will be a lot harder than it was in 1948.  Thanks to an aging population raising the cost of health care.  And the sophistication of the bad guys in stealing from the system.  No.  Obamacare will be a far cry from the NHS.  So as bad as anything is in the NHS just remember that Obamacare will probably never be that good.

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Computerized Medical Records open the Door to Fraud and Give Glimpse of Health Care under Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2012

Week in Review

One of the ways to improve efficiency and cut costs in health care is to digitize medical records.  President Obama and the Democrats kept talking about that as they pushed Obamacare through a Democrat-controlled House and Senate.  This simple fact was going to fix so much that was wrong with health care in the U.S.  Putting all our personal information online is just common sense.  Because it makes it so much easier for health care providers to look up our personal information no matter where they are.  And as it turns out, it makes it easier for others to pull up that personal information (see Feds warn hospitals over Medicare fraud by Associated Press posted 9/24/2012 on CBS NEWS).

Computerized medical records were supposed to cut costs. Now the Obama administration is warning hospitals that might be tempted to use the technology for gaming the system.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder issued the warning Monday in a letter to hospital trade associations, following media reports of alleged irregularities.

The letter said there were indications that some providers were using computerized records technology to possibly obtain payments to which they were not entitled. It raised the threat of prosecution.

Among the practices under scrutiny is what’s called “upcoding” — or raising the severity of a patient’s condition to get more money.

The U.S. spends about $770 billion annually on Medicare based on a recent CBO projection.  Imagine the fraud in the system when the government takes over all $2.6 trillion of health care spending.  If the spending increases by 238% one can assume the fraud will increase by 238%.  Fraud made easier by the digitizing of our health care system.  Unless, of course, the U.S. will have the best cyber security in place like they do for Medicare.

Hospitals say part of the problem is that Medicare has lagged in updating billing guidelines for emergency room and clinic visits.

Getting the billing guidelines in place is probably the easier part of a computerized billing system.  Probably a lot easier than securing that system from cyber attacks.  So it doesn’t give one a strong sense of confidence that our personal information will be safe online.  Especially when the government goes from processing $770 billion annually to processing $2.6 trillion annually.

Obamacare may make it easier for doctors to access all our personal information.  But it will also make it easier for everyone else to access our personal information.  Including those we don’t want seeing our personal information.  Those who want our social security number.  Address.  Phone numbers.  Addresses and phone numbers of our family members.  As well as our personal medical history.  All of which will be one click away for those who would really like to have it.  Makes you yearn for the old days.  When only your family doctor had that information.  On a paper file.  In his or her file cabinet.  Safe and secure.  Even if it was not the most efficient system in the world it was one you didn’t have to worry about.

Sadly, those days are long gone.  For Obamacare will put your health care experience on the public stage.  Where little will be secure from prying and persistent eyes.  Where the same people will be responsible for your personal information that can’t stop Medicare fraud.

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