New British Report to show how Horrible National Health Care Is

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 20th, 2013

Week in Review

A lot of those on the left like to point out how the United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t have national health care.  Of course those on the right will note that the U.S. health care system is the best in the world.  And probably is because it is the only advanced economy not to have national health care.  But proponents of national health care will be quick to poo poo that.  Noting how wonderful Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is.  Doing everything a national health care system should.  Well, apart from the appalling care they provide at times (see Evening Briefing: Losing our faith in the NHS religion by Will Heaven posted 7/15/2013 on The Telegraph).

Tomorrow is D-Day for the NHS. A damning 1500-page report on failings at 14 NHS hospital trusts will be published. Written by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’s Medical Director, it will spell out failings that have led to up to 13,000 needless deaths since 2005, we report. Crucially, it will also note that the scandal of Mid Staffordshire Hospital was not a “one-off”. It follows closely today’s review of the Liverpool Care Pathway by Baroness Neuberger. She said of the LCP: “Among the worst stories were of people on the Liverpool Care Pathway for days going into weeks without communication or review or discussion. And also desperate stories of desperate people who are longing for a drink of water who were, through misunderstanding of the LCP and poor care, denied a drink.”

Make no mistake: if the NHS is Britain’s national religion, then we are currently going through a brutal reformation. Polling last month showed that 58 per cent don’t trust the NHS to be open about its standards.

Barely half those polled about the vaunted NHS trust it.  Which isn’t much of a ringing endorsement for national health care.  And yet here we are.  With Obamacare taking us down that road.  For the Democrats said they could give quality health care to everyone while cutting costs at the same time.  Something the British found to be not quite possible.  But on this side of the pond American politicians think they are so much wiser that they’ll be able to do what the British could not.

Some would call the Liverpool Care Pathway a death panel.  For it is basically a program to let people die with dignity.  People who are so ill that nothing further can be for them.  The hospital is supposed to discuss this with the family.  To help them accept that the end is nigh for their loved one.  That’s part of the official LCP.  But as it turned out hospitals were putting a lot of patients onto the LCP without consulting the family.  To, as some have claimed, cut costs.  For keeping sick people alive is costly.  And a distraction to health care providers desperately needed elsewhere in their state-run hospitals.

Anyway, this is what Obamacare will look like.  Eventually.  As they cut costs to reduce the high cost of health care.  Of course, the United States has about 5 times the population of the UK.  So the number of needless deaths the US can expect could be as many 65,000 (13,000 X 5).  And if the Americans throw in an LCP of their own that number will likely be higher.  Even if the words ‘death panels’ aren’t included in the bill.  For the LCP is a quasi death panel but they don’t call it a death panel.  Well, some do.  Those who had the pleasure of experiencing what the LCP did to their loved one.

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The National Health Service isn’t what it used to be despite its Constant Veneration

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

Obamacare is unpopular and divisive.  Democrats passed it on purely party lines when they controlled both the House and the Senate.  Something they felt was more important doing than trying to help the economy recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And now we see nothing but new taxes and costly regulations for business.  Causing a hiring freeze.  And a move to push full-time people to part-time because of the onerous cost of compliance.

Obamacare may prove to be the most damaging piece of legislation to ever come from Washington.  And on top of everything else the quality of health care will decline.  As we have learned from our friends in Britain.  Where in their National Health Service it is not uncommon to see long wait-times, rationing and denials of service.  They even have a de facto death panel.   The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  Basically pulling the plug on those too old and too costly to keep alive.  But yet every time you turn around someone is heaping praise on the NHS.  Despite the train wreck it’s become (see For crying out loud, Archbishop, do we have to drag the NHS into everything? by Damian Thompson posted 3/21/2013 on The Telegraph).

From Archbishop Justin Welby’s sermon: “Slaves were freed, factory acts passed and the NHS and social care established through Christ-liberated courage.”

Sorry if this is out of place, Your Grace, but I can’t help asking: it is now against the law to hold any grand public occasion in Britain without venerating the NHS?

It’s a system of delivering healthcare. There are many worse and, increasingly, many better around the world. Its foundation was a huge achievement, but it is currently so badly administered and employs so many dodgy staff that many people do not feel safe in its hands.

This is the future of Obamacare.  It will be badly administered.  As all national health care programs typically are.  Because it’s the government running it.  And they just don’t have a good track record of running anything.  With this bad administration you will get political appointments to run crucial parts of it.  Instead of qualified health care professionals.  And as the political cronyism grows the staff will become dodgy.  Until one day people won’t feel safe in its hands.

But despite this those in the government will venerate it.  For it is the Holy Grail of government.  Controlling one-sixth of the economy.  Giving it enormous power over the economy.  And enormous power over life itself.  For Obamacare will have its own Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  A board of government bureaucrats making death panel decisions.  To try and stretch those health care dollars to cover as many people as they can.  After, of course, first taking care of those at the top badly administering it.

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Canada looking at Rationing Health Care for Senior Citizens to Reduce Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 17th, 2013

Week in Review

Proponents of national health care in the U.S. have long pointed to Canada and said, “See?  That’s the way you do health care.”  While critics say national health care will only lead to longer wait times.  Poorer quality.  And rationing (see Health ministers look to cut back on pricey diagnostic tests by Adrian Morrow posted 3/15/2013 on The Globe and Mail).

The provinces are also looking at ways to cut back on pricey diagnostic tests and surgeries such as MRIs, knee replacements and cataract removals. After consulting with health-care professionals, they hope to draw up a series of voluntary guidelines, to be presented this summer, on when such procedures are necessary and when they can be skipped…

The greatest cost pressure on the system, however, may be the demographic shift and the steady rise in the number of senior citizens requiring chronic care…

Most of the new model involves finding ways to keep seniors out of hospital. Ontario, for instance, is pumping money into providing more home care. Manitoba is looking toward preventive medicine. Saskatchewan is reviewing ways to improve long-term care. Nova Scotia has a system where paramedics treat some ailments in long-term care facilities to avoid tying up hospital beds.

Britain is also working on a way to keep seniors out of hospitals.  And they have a plan for those who do get into their hospitals.  If they’re really sick and need a lot of expensive health care.  They withdraw all medical care and nourishment.  They call it the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  Something that let’s really sick patients die with dignity.  Or so the program says.  Family members who lost a loved one because he or she was placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway without their knowledge see it differently.  Some even have called it a death panel.  Because it results in more deaths.  Which helps the bottom line.

Obamacare will have some kind of death panel, too.  With bureaucrats being introduced into the medical decision-making process.  Who will consider the bottom line when making their decisions.  And one thing that helps the bottom line in national health care is death.  For dead people don’t need pricey diagnostic tests, surgeries, MRIs, knee replacements and cataract removals.

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Britain raising Retirement Ages to cope with an Exploding and Costly Aging Population

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

When the actuaries first crunched the Social Security numbers do you know what they did?  They built a system that would start paying benefits to people who on average were already dead.  That is the retirement age was pretty close to the average life expectancy.  Which meant few people would live long into retirement.  So if you’re collecting taxes from everyone but only have to pay about half of them in retirement (as the other half would already be dead) it wasn’t that hard to keep Social Security solvent.  But then something happened.  We started living longer.  Which the actuaries never thought would happen.  Worse, people were having fewer babies.  So as more people lived longer into retirement there were fewer people entering the workforce to pay the taxes to pay for their long retirement.  Creating an aging population.  Something else the actuaries never thought would happen.

Put it all together and you have a financial mess.  With both Social Security and Medicare projecting to go bankrupt.  But it’s just not in the United States.  It’s everywhere (see Britain ‘woefully’ under-prepared for rising number of elderly people by Juliette Jowit posted 3/13/213 on the guardian).

Britain is “woefully under-prepared” to cope with an expected explosion of older people and ministers need to respond by raising the retirement age and tackle the costs by reviewing pensioner benefits, a House of Lords inquiry concluded.

A special committee of peers blamed successive governments for their failure to tackle policy issues generated by the ageing population, warned that the biggest threats are to already stretched health and social services, and proposed a raft of new policies to help people cope.

Led by Lord Filkin, the group did not put forward a specific timetable for increasing the state pension age – already set to rise from 60 for women and 65 for men, to 66 in 2020 and 68 by 2046 – but the body did cite recommendations made by Lord Turner, chairman of the pensions commission, who had said the threshold could rise to 70 by 2030…

The wide-ranging inquiry heard startling evidence about the scale of the demographic change coming. Between 2010 and 2030 there is expected to be a 50% increase in people aged 65 or older, and a doubling of people aged 85 or older.

The consequences are predicted to be a 50% increase in people with arthritis, coronary disease or strokes, and an 80% rise in people with dementia to nearly two million.

So the British are talking about raising retirement ages.  And means-testing their benefits.  One thing they don’t mention is their Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  To help the dying to die with dignity.  Though many call it a quasi death panel.  To help unburden the NHS with a lot of costly patients.  Helping them to stretch their limited resources to cover more people.  Obamacare includes something similar.  Some bureaucrat will make life and death decisions to determine whether medical care will have an acceptable cost-benefit ratio.  If not, well, there will be something similar to Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient in Obamacare.  For it will be the only way to cut costs with an aging population.  Unless you force health care workers to work at bargain discount pay rates.  Like they do in Cuba.  And North Korea.

This will be the future of Obamacare.  For it is the present of the NHS.  And we both have aging populations.

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Women with Breast Cancer suffer higher Death Rates in Britain’s National Health Service

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

The whole push for Obamacare was to provide quality care for all Americans.  Not just those who could afford it.  Health care was going to be classless.  There would be true equality.  No one would receive any better care than anyone else.  Because health care is not a privilege.  It’s a right.  Or so the proponents of national health care say.  And why they supported Obamacare.  A waypoint on the path to true universal care.  Where everyone gets the best health care whenever they need it.  Just like in Britain.  Whose National Health Service (NHS) is what those in America want Obamacare to evolve into.  So health care in America will be just as good as health care in Britain (see British women ‘dying quicker of breast cancer than elsewhere’ by Stephen Adams posted 3/1/2013 on The Telegraph).

Academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the proportion of women in the UK surviving at least three years after being diagnosed was 87 to 89 percent, which was similar to Denmark.

In Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden three-year survival was 91 to 94 per cent for the period examined, between 2000 and 2007…

In Britain only 28 per cent made it to three years, but in Sweden 42 per cent did…

Dr Sarah Walters, lead author, said: “We should now investigate whether the treatment of women with later-stage breast cancer meets international standards. There is particular concern that this is not the case, especially for older women”.

Sara Hiom from Cancer Research UK, which helped with the study, said: “We need to investigate the possibility that fewer women with later stage breast cancer in the UK receive the best treatment for their circumstances…”

“The NHS is also working to ensure all patients are treated as individuals and receive care that meets their healthcare needs whatever their age or condition.”

National health care is great.  As long as you’re not old.  For those old people are very costly to treat.  Because they’re living longer into retirement.  Consuming ever more health care dollars (or British pounds) for a few months more of life.  If Britain wants to get their health care costs under control they could save a lot by not treating some of these highest consumers of health care.  Putting some of them, instead, on the Liverpool Care Pathway.  Where doctors can withdraw treatment to let terminal ill patients die with dignity.  While saving precious health care dollars/pounds for use elsewhere.  Cold and callous, yes, but it is happening.

They don’t call the Liverpool Care Pathway a death panel.  But it is one.  Especially when some people are placed on the pathway without consulting with the person’s family first.  Something to look forward to as Obamacare evolves more into a national health care system.  As well as higher death rates for women with breast cancer.  Where there will be more equality.  As we lower the quality of care for everyone by trying to do more with less.  As health care costs soar due to aging populations.  People living longer into retirement.  And tax revenues fall due to aging populations.  Fewer people entering the workforce to pay for those living longer into retirement.  Leaving death panels as one of the few ways for governments to cut costs.

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Health Sciences North decreases Hospital ER Wait Times in Sudbury that were as High as 19 Hours

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 12th, 2013

Week in Review

The American Left loves the Canadian health care system.  That’s what they wanted when they settled for Obamacare.  They wanted a single-payer system.  Like in Canada.  So they could enjoy real health care nirvana (see ‘Kick in the ass’ helps ER wait times, administrator says posted 1/9/2013 on CBC News).

The hospital in Sudbury says emergency room waits are down thanks to a recent review of its services.

For the past two months, Health Sciences North hasn’t seen the bed shortages that have clogged up the hospital in recent years.

Chief Operating Officer Joe Pilon credited a recent peer review ordered last year by the province, which he said finally prompted hospital staff to put into practice its strategies for dealing with elderly patients.

Sudbury is in northern Ontario, just north of Georgian Bay/Lake Huron on the Trans Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  An old mining boom town that turned into the largest city in northern Ontario with a population of about 160,000.

Clogged up hospital emergency rooms in recent years?  Years?  And the solution to speeding things up in the ER was dealing with elderly patients?  One wonders how they sped things up by dealing with those elderly patients.  We know how the UK is dealing with their elderly.  With the Liverpool Care Pathway.  Or what some are calling a death panel.  A dignified war for the elderly to die.  Quickly.  And efficiently.  While freeing up some hospital beds in the process.

The article doesn’t elaborate on what steps they took to address the elderly problem.  But a comment left by a reader gives you an idea about how bad those wait times were.

Just last summer, my wife and I left Sudbury ER to go to Espanola ER after waiting in pain for 8 or more hours. We watched as patients with apparently less serious issues go through triage and then trreatment [sic]while more apparently serious cases waited. Was this tactic a clever move just to empty some seats?

I love Sudbury. But it can be a nightmare if you need medical attention at this hospital.

Still, 8 hours isn’t that bad.  A previous CBC news article in May of 2012 noted the average wait time exceeded 19 hours.  The reason behind those long wait times?  Too many people using the emergency room who shouldn’t be using the emergency room.  Like a lot of sick elderly people who have no place else to go.

Interestingly, the U.S. moved Obamacare forward based on the assumption that universal care will somehow prevent our emergency rooms from overflowing with people who have no health insurance.  Something not apparently working in Sudbury, Ontario.

In the U.S. I gave up on a crowded ER waiting room after waiting for close to 3 hours and drove to another emergency room.  Or, rather, had someone drive me to another emergency room.  For I was in too much pain to drive myself.  But it wasn’t as much pain as those heart attack patients jumping to the front of the line ahead of me apparently.  That’s the thing about triage.  Unless you’re dying or bleeding profusely from some open wound you will sit and wait.  And wait.  And wait.

My experience was long before Obamacare.  Now the American health care system will approach to what they have in Canada.  So what will be the difference once Obamacare becomes similar to the Canadian system?  About 5-16 hours of ER waiting time.  Unless they speed things up by not treating the elderly.  Instead just enrolling them directly into the Liverpool Care Pathway equivalent.  To free up hospital beds.  And emergency room resources.  For a death panel will be the only way to reduce costs and treat more people at the same time.  By not treating those who consume the lion’s share of our health care resources.  The elderly.

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Baby Boom causes new Short-Term Cost Pressures for NHS but offers Long-Term Hope

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 17th, 2012

Week in Review

Now that President Obama won reelection and the Democrats retained the Senate Obamacare is here to stay.  Unless something happens in the 2014 midterm elections that turns Congress over to the Republicans with supermajorities that will allow them other ways to defund or otherwise shutdown Obamacare.  Or the states stand together on their end and refuse to implement Obamacare.  But unless these things happen Obamacare is here to stay.  Perhaps one day evolving into a full blown national health care system.  Which they designed it to do.  By putting in requirements that encourage employers to drop health care.  Opening the door for the government to step in to save the day from the health care crisis they created.

So what will life be like under Obamacare?  Start following what’s happening in the British National Health Service (NHS).  And you’ll get an idea of what national health care is like (see New baby boom to put ‘enormous’ strain on NHS by Stephen Adams posted 11/12/2012 on The Telegraph).

In the first three months of this year alone, 4,600 more babies were born than during the same period last year, according to official figures

Midwives are warning that the trend is continuing and will swell births to more than 700,000 in England this year – the first time that level has been reached since 1971.

Birth rates have been on the rise for a decade, due principally to immigration, with the number growing by about 12,000 a year…

Professor Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said the increase was putting “enormous” strain on the NHS…

Before David Cameron came to power, he promised another 3,000 midwives across the NHS, but to date only an extra 900 have been employed.

The RCM is arguing another 5,000 are needed across England, to keep pace with the rising number of births…

A recent RCM poll of more than 2,000 midwives found nine in 10 did not feel they could give women all the care and support they needed.

A lack of midwives has been cited as one reason for the high proportion of caesareans in Britain, with mothers sometimes opting for surgery to avoid repeating a traumatic first birth.

The NHS is struggling to slash its budget.  For before this current baby boom birthrates had been falling after the establishment of the NHS.  Shrinking the tax base.  And the funding for the NHS.  At a time when people were living longer thanks to advances in health care.  So the NHS finds itself chronically underfunded thanks to that shrinking tax base.  And overburdened by more elderly people living longer after retirement consuming a lot of health care resources.  Which is why the NHS relies on midwives to deliver babies.  Often in the mother’s home.  To relieve the hospital of an enormous expense of handling something so mundane and routine as delivering a baby.  Midwives are a way to cut costs.  Without sacrificing quality health care.  As most births proceed without any complications.  When there are complications they take the mother to a hospital.

Midwives help the NHS spread their limited resources over as many people as possible.  Much like the quasi death panel Liverpool Care Pathway.  By encouraging people to let their loved dies instead of trying to prolong their lives with costly health care resources.  Of course, the NHS is currently revising their constitution to make sure those decisions are based on the patient’s best interests and not the hospital’s bottom line.

And speaking of bottom lines there is nothing like a baby boom to solve a government-funded organization’s chronic underfunding.  Because babies become taxpayers.  When they join the workforce.  And if they sustain this baby boom long enough it may bring the age of the British population down.  By having more people entering the workforce than leaving it.  Provided there are jobs for them when they are ready to enter the workforce.  So a rising population growth rate can’t fix all of their problems alone.  They also need a business-friendly environment that will create jobs to employ these new taxpayers.

Of course you know what will happen then.  After the baby boom creates a tax revenue boom the government will make more spending obligations it won’t be able to meet once their population ages again.  And they will be right back where they started from.  Only the spending obligations will be greater the next time around.  And here lies the problem.  It’s the spending that is the problem.  Always has been.  And always will be.  If governments stopped spending themselves into these kinds of messes they wouldn’t have these problems to begin with.  And the Americans have just given themselves a spending obligation that will create the mother of all messes.  Obamacare.  And whatever it will evolve into.  For the US has about 5 times the population of the UK.  So its cost pressures will probably be 5 times what the NHS is feeling.  Or more.  So the Americans can expect midwives to replace the maternity wards their mothers gave birth in.  And a Liverpool Care Pathway quasi death panel.  Why?  Because if the British couldn’t avoid these things than it isn’t likely the Americans will with 5 times the cost pressures.

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Obamacare will likely Include a Liverpool Care Pathway type of Death Panel

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 10th, 2012

Week in Review

There are no death panels in the NHS.  At least, by name.  Though some would say the Liverpool Care Pathway is a death panel (see NHS constitution reform to include new end-of-life care commitments posted 11/4/2012 in the guardian).

New commitments on end-of-life care and single-sex wards are set to be included in the NHS constitution under proposals unveiled on Monday…

Rules on involving patients and families in treatment decisions are being strengthened following an outcry over secretive use of the Liverpool Care Pathway which involves withdrawal of fluids and food…

Imelda Redmond, director of policy and public affairs at Marie Curie, said: “The Liverpool Care Pathway has enabled thousands of people to experience dignified care in the last hours and days of life. It was developed to spread the hospice model of end of life care into hospitals and other healthcare settings.

“We have become increasingly concerned about the damaging media coverage which reports negative experiences of people in hospital and the end of life. That is why we are calling for the next independent national audit to be brought forward so that we can identify as soon as possible where these failings are taking place.

One thing the British have learned is that sick people who don’t have the decency to die quickly cost a lot of money.  And these sick people who refuse to die quickly consume a lot of NHS resources.  Resources that they are no longer paying for as they have long since left the workforce.  So some family members have had their loved ones placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway even though some questioned why later?  Was the decision made in the best interests of the patient consuming all of those health care resources?  Or was the decision made in the best interests of the health service trying to make those limited health care resources stretch as far as possible?

They don’t call it a death panel.  But when it appears they’re choosing to let some people die for economic reasons (to stretch those limited health care resources as far as possible) one can’t help but think of the Liverpool Care Pathway as a death panel.  Hence the revision of the NHS constitution.

Obamacare doesn’t include any death panels.  By name.  But it includes a lot of ‘as the authority shall determine’.  Which means some bureaucrat has the last say on spending decisions.  And if those spending decisions involve the withdrawal of fluids and food it is a life and death decision.  Exactly the kind of decision a death panel will make.

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The NHS may be letting Elderly Patients Die to Help Cut Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

There are few things more difficult than watching a loved one die a slow death.  Nothing prepares you for this.  Even if you work in the health care industry (see My diary of mum’s awful death on the Liverpool Care Pathway: Nurse’s heart-rending account of how doctors decided  to put her mother on ‘pathway to death’ by Tom Rawstorne posted 10/19/2012 on the Daily Mail).

As a nurse and health visitor with 25 years’ experience, Carole Jones thought she knew the workings of the NHS inside out.

But when her 85-year-old mother Maureen was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge last year having suffered a stroke, she was totally unprepared for what followed.

Her mother’s chances of recovery having been written off by medics, a decision was taken — without Carole’s knowledge — to place Maureen on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is a plan ostensibly designed to ease the suffering of the dying, which can involve the heavy sedation of a patient and the removal of tubes providing food and fluid.

Over the past week, families have contacted the Daily Mail saying they believe their loved ones were wrongly put on the LCP by hospitals when they were not in fact close to death, fuelling the suspicion that it is used to hasten deaths to save the NHS money and free up beds.

In June this year, Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals, and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Kent University, told a conference the LCP had become an ‘assisted death pathway’.

‘Very likely, many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP,’ he said.

It is so difficult when the roles reverse between parent and child.  When a parent consults with a doctor about his or her child you usually don’t have to worry whether the doctor is doing what’s best for the child.  When it is a daughter or son of a parent discussing an elderly parent’s treatment with a doctor it’s a different story.  Especially if that parent is suffering from dementia.  And the National Health Service is dealing with cost pressures from an aging population.

More people are leaving the workforce than entering it in the UK (as well as the US).  Which means two things.  Tax revenue is falling because of fewer workers (which means fewer taxpayers).  While at the same time a larger number of retirees are consuming a large share of health care services.  So that’s less money coming into the health service.  While the health service is spending more money on providing health care services.  Which is a problem.  If you spend more than you receive you will run deficits.  And if you can’t increase tax rates anymore that leaves only one other option.  Cost cutting.

Is this the reason why they are placing elderly patients in the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP)?  To help cut costs by having them die more efficiently?  Whether they are or not it would help cut costs.  Probably the largest cost savings they can make.  By removing the largest consumers of health care resources from the health care system.  A death panel, if you will.  Where some government bureaucrat makes a cold and calculated decision to let a person die because it’s the cost efficient thing to do.

It’s something to think about as they fully implement Obamacare.  For if the NHS is doing this it would follow that Obamacare will, too.  For both nations have aging populations.  Only the US has about five times the population of the UK so the US will probably have five times the cost pressures.  And will likely place five times the patients into the US equivalency of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is the bleak future of Obamacare.  Real death panels.  Despite what the proponents of Obamacare say.

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