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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AARP’s Endorsement of Obamacare puts pressure on Social Security Benefits

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Week in Review

AARP endorsed and helped pass Obamacare into law.  In exchange for an exemption from the very law they supported so they can sell their “Medigap” insurance policies easier than their competitor Medicare Advantage could sell theirs (see AARP latest to receive Obamacare break by Matthew Boyle posted 5/19/2011 on The Daily Caller).  Good for AARP.  But not for the senior citizens they represent.  For Obamacare will lower the quality of US health care.  And increase health care costs.  Especially for seniors.  So whenever AARP starts quoting Ronald Reagan one should be suspect as they are no friend of Ronald Reagan.  For Ronald Reagan would not have approved of what AARP did to help pass Obamacare into law.  Even if he and Tip O’Neill worked together to pull Social Security back from the brink of insolvency (see Ronald Reagan’s 9 Wisest Words About Social Security by Alejandra Owens posted 12/19/2012 on AARP).

That legislation, negotiated by President Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, focused on what was needed protect Social Security for the long term. Reagan understood that Social Security is a separately funded program unrelated to problems in the rest of the budget, and he clearly stated that: “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.”

Indeed, today the Social Security trust funds hold $2.8 trillion in government bonds. These reserves have been built up with the contributions that workers and employers have paid into the system for the dedicated purpose of paying Social Security benefits. These funds are held in legally established trusts and cannot be used for any purpose other than paying benefits. According to the latest Trustees’ report, Social Security can pay full benefits through 2033, and roughly 75 percent of benefits beyond that time.

The Social Security Trust Fund?  There’s no trust fund.  The government raided it long ago and replaced it with IOUs.  Government bonds.  Current Social Security taxes go to pay for current benefits.  There is no pile of cash earning interest anywhere.  No personalized savings accounts for individual Social Security contributors.  If there were then there would be no Social Security crisis.  No, that money is gone.  Spent by the government to fund their current spending obligations.  Which are so great that even by raiding the Social Security Trust Fund they still can’t find enough cash to prevent a deficit.

The government spends our Social Security contributions for every other purpose they want to other than paying our benefits.  They just launder the money first through the Treasury Department.  Exchange IOUs (i.e., government bonds) for that cash.  Then they go and spend that cash.  And when it comes time to redeem those government bonds they’ll probably just print money.  Inflating the money supply.  And depreciate the dollar.  Making it ever harder for a senior to live on their retirement savings.  And because of what AARP did to help pass Obamacare into law there will even be less money available for Social Security benefits.  Requiring more printing of money.  And more devaluing of the dollar.  Making life a living hell for the retirees they supposedly represent.  At least according to that article in The Daily Caller.

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The NHS is Rationing Cataract Operations to Senior Citizens as Obamacare will Probably do as Well

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 12th, 2012

Week in Review

The British are proud of their national health Service (NHS).  But they are not always happy with it.  Especially the elderly (see Eye surgeons unite to condemn rationing of cataract operations by half of NHS trusts by Jenny Hope posted 8/12/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Eye surgeons are warning that the rationing of cataract operations by more than half of NHS trusts is putting thousands of patients at risk.

Elderly victims of the cutbacks are being left unable to read, write or drive as they wait longer for surgery…

A joint statement from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the College of Optometrists and the Optical Confederation calls for primary care trusts (PCTs) to abandon caps on operations that mean patients have to wait longer.

They say that, in some cases, patients with cataracts in both eyes are being told their PCT will treat only one, leaving people unable to judge distances and more likely to have accidents. ..

‘However, we must remember that the NHS is facing an unprecedented financial challenge and commissioners must live within their means while providing high quality care.’

Again, it’s that again population.  As the senior population swells so does the need for cataract surgeries.  There are just too many people at the top of the pyramid for the fewer workers in the workforce to pay for them.  Which leaves Britain really with only two options.  Compel doctors to work for less (as well as force students to go to medical school so they can come out after that grueling ordeal to make as much as someone who didn’t sacrifice eight years or so to become a doctor).   Or they ration services.  Guess which option they chose?

Watching the NHS as they struggle with both an aging population and budget deficits is telling of what we can expect of Obamacare.  For we have an aging population, too.  In fact, our aging population is much larger than their aging population.  And we have budget deficits.  Which are even larger than Britain’s.  Based on this what is the obvious conclusion?  Obamacare will ration cataract operations for senior citizens, too.

Of course some will say this is the price we must pay for universal coverage.  Denying coverage to some through rationing.  (Did you catch the irony there?)  But the question that just begs to be asked is this.  Is our health care system this bad as it is now?  No, it’s not.  But it will be.  When we turn it over to a vast government bureaucracy.  For whenever did a vast government bureaucracy run anything well?  Or didn’t require ever more funding?

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Changes in the Canadian National Health Care doesn’t Factor in Age, a Problem for British Columbia

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 14th, 2012

Week in Review

Many in the United States (population about 300 million) who favor national health care like to point to their neighbors to the north.  Canada (population around 30 million).  Where they believe there is a health care utopia.  But it’s not quite the utopia.  It’s pretty expensive.  And they’re always looking for ways to cut costs (see B.C. premier balks at federal health funding plan posted 1/13/2012 on CBC News British Columbia).

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says announced changes to federal government health-care transfers to the provinces won’t work for British Columbia, where a rapidly growing senior population is dramatically increasing medical costs to the province…

“You cannot allocate health-care dollars on a per capita basis until you adjust it for age,” Clark said in Vancouver during an interview with Rosemary Barton on the CBC Newsnet program Power & Politics. “You just can’t run a country or look after senior citizens [unless] that’s the way you do it.”

Clark said the fastest growing demographic in B.C. is people over 85, and the province would be especially hard hit unless the per-capita formula changes.

“It costs an average $22,000 a year for health care for someone who is over 85 versus $2,000 for someone who is 29 years old,” the premier said.

Canada has the same problem all nations have.  Including the U.S.  An aging population.  That consumes more and more health care services.  Which means the problem of trying to pay for health care is a problem that won’t go away.

Clark did praise the federal decision to give provinces more responsibility for health-care policies, saying it is a step in the right direction.

“They are going to vacate the policy field … which provincial premiers have been asking for for [sic] something like 30 years, [to] do the policy in health care. So I think that’s a great thing.”

For 30 years the provinces have been trying to decentralize their national health care system.  Some 30 years later they finally get their wish.  Which, incidentally, is the direction Britain (population about 60 million) is trying to take their NHS.  And yet the U.S. is moving in the opposite direction with Obamacare.  The country with five times the population of the UK.  And ten times the population of Canada.  Which means they’ll have 5 and 10 times the cost problems of the UK and Canada.  If they are lucky.

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A Government Shutdown over the Budget Debate would be Transparent, unlike this Current White House

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 7th, 2011

It is interesting the doom and gloom the White House is warning us about a potential government shutdown.  But as they make their case, it seems less doom and gloom and more of a good thing.  The truth is most of us wouldn’t even notice it.  And we’d save a lot of money we don’t even need to spend (see White House says shutdown will delay pay to troops by Richard Lardner and Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, posted 4/7/2011 on Yahoo! News).

The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season.

No worries here.  There is no recovery.  At least nothing worth saving.  We’ll pay the troops.  This is more of a scare tactic to scare the military wives.  Some of us may have to wait longer to write a check to the IRS for our income tax.  Those who do I’m sure will manage.  Small business loans?  Government shouldn’t be making loans.  That’s why we have banks.  And government-backed mortgages?  Really?  Come on, it was the government-backed loans that got us in the mess we’re in.  The subprime mortgage crisis wouldn’t have happened if the government wasn’t backing loans in the first place.

The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government’s spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise.

To jolt the Republicans?  Compromise is a two-way street.  Why is always the Republicans who are stubborn?  Why isn’t the other side, the stubborn side, stubborn?  What happened to President Obama’s debt commission?  The Republican budget isn’t asking more than Obama’s highly esteemed debt commission that Obama has filed away in the round file.  For he never had any intentions of making any cuts.  Because Democrats don’t make cuts.  They just talk about them.  So people can see that they’re serious.  And when people lost interest, bang went the debt commission’s report into the trash.

As the talks continued, the White House sought to put the prospect of a shutdown in terms people would care about, warning even that the beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in the nation’s capital would be wiped out. The Smithsonian Institution and national parks around the country would also be closed.

Life’s hard.  People are dying in genocide in Libya (according to the Obama administration).  If it’s not quite genocide then let’s call it civil war.  And there’s a lot of that going around.  In the grand scheme of things, missing the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade just doesn’t seem as great a disaster as wholesale death and destruction.

Under long-standing federal rules, agencies would not be affected that provide for U.S. national security, dispense most types of federal benefit payments, offer inpatient medical care or outpatient emergency care, ensure the safe use of food and drugs, manage air traffic, protect and monitor borders and coastlines, guard prisoners, conduct criminal investigations and law enforcement, oversee power distribution and oversee banks.

That sure sounds like we’ll be paying our soldiers.  They’re providing national security.  And if Libya is a vital national security interest, so are the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If we don’t pay our military it is nothing more than a cheap partisan trick to scare people into hating Republicans.  No, it seems like we’ll pay most of the ‘important’ things in the event of a shutdown.  Other than parks and Cherry Blossom Festivals.

Mail deliveries would continue in the event of a shutdown. U.S. postal operations are not subsidized by tax dollars.

Really?  Our tax dollars don’t subsidize the U.S. Postal Service?  That same postal service that hasn’t shown an operating profit since I don’t know when?  Really?  Since when?  But I digress.  The important thing is that the mail will keep coming during a shutdown.

According to the shutdown scenario described by the administration, the government would have to significantly cut staffing across the executive branch, including workers at the White House and civilian employees at the Defense Department; close to 800,000 workers would be affected. Congress and the federal court system will also be subject to a shutdown.

Good.  Make Thomas Jefferson happy.  Well, make his spirit happy.  Cut the executive branch.  It has grown way beyond what any of the Founding Fathers ever envisioned.  I doubt if Alexander Hamilton would even approve of its size today.  Though he would be pretty impressed with the power of the military, though.  But that’s a different story.  Let’s slash the executive branch for awhile and see if anyone notices.  If not, here’s a chance for some real budget cutting.  Let’s make these cuts permanent.

At the Pentagon, defense officials were finalizing plans that would lay out how the department would deal with a shutdown. But they already have acknowledged that U.S. military troops — including those in war zones — would receive one week’s pay instead of two in their next paycheck if the government were to close.

Military personnel at home and abroad would continue to earn pay, but they wouldn’t get paychecks until there was a budget agreement and government operations resumed.

Cheap partisan scare tactics.  Whenever a government can’t get the tax increases they want, they threaten the teachers, cops, firemen and, now, the military, in a childish tantrum.  Gimme want I want or I will cut the things that are important to you.  Those things that, if cut, puts you into peril.  How do you like that, hmmm?

What makes this worse is that they’ll enjoy not paying the military.  They don’t like them.  Never have.  In fact, they almost regret repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because it took away their go-to excuse to keep these people off of their Ivy League campuses.

Key national security responsibilities, including operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and earthquake assistance to Japan, would not be interrupted by a shutdown, the Pentagon said.

So are they paying them?  Or just making them work without a paycheck?  Maybe our soldiers should go on strike.  Like the teachers.  To prevent unfair treatment.  You have to admit being forced into combat operations without pay is worse than being asked to contribute another fewer percentage points to your own health care.  Of course, these aren’t the same.  The Obama administration would not stand by and allow teachers to suffer an outrage like paying for their own health care.  Soldiers in combat?  The hell with them.

Social Security payments would continue to be delivered, and applications for benefits would continue to be processed, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said.

Yes, they will sacrifice the soldiers.  And why not?  Most of them vote Republican.  But senior citizens?  Dependent on Social Security?  That’s another story.  Anyone dependent on the federal government votes to keep federal government big, i.e., they vote Democrat.  So the seniors get paid.  Always.  Unless the Republicans can be blamed.

Medicare would still pay medical claims for its 48 million recipients, who are mainly seniors but also several million younger people who are permanently disabled or have kidney failure. Payments to doctors, hospitals and other service providers could be delayed, however, should a shutdown continue for several months.

Sacrifice the soldiers (many of who vote Republicans).  Protect the seniors (many of who vote Democrat).

The Obama administration said the impact on the housing market would be more severe than in 1995, the last time there was a government shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration accounts for 30 percent of the mortgage market, nearly three times the amount 16 years ago.

And the greatest financial crisis ever (the subprime mortgage crisis) to hit the United States happened after the government backed three times as many mortgages than they did in 1995.  Having the government stop backing mortgages is a good thing.

The nation’s 15,700 air traffic controllers would keep working, as would many of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 6,100 technicians who install and maintain the equipment for the nation’s air traffic control system.

The planes will still fly in the event of a shutdown.

Operation of the International Space Station would be unaffected. NASA’s Mission Control in Houston would continue to work around the clock to keep watch.

Soldiers, no.  Astronauts, yes.  Even though the International Space Station is international.  With other nations ‘watching’ the station.  And our astronauts often catch a ride with the Russians on their Soyuz rockets.  So the space coalition could survive a few months easily without us.

Among other consequences cited by the administration:

_The Environmental Protection Agency would cease issuing permits and stop reviewing environmental impact statements, which would slow the approval of projects.

_Most government websites would not be updated, unless they were deemed essential.

_Federal courts would be unable to hear cases as clerks, stenographers, bailiffs, security guards and other employees would not be at work.

At most these are inconveniences.  Unlike the out of control spending that can “herald the end of the republic.”  As Benjamin Franklin warned us about when people learned they can vote themselves money.  And that’s where we are.  They’ve learned.  And have.  Franklin’s prophetic warning is about to play out if we don’t stop spending.  This is the choice.  Keep spending and end the republic.  Or make some serious cuts.

The Democrats have not presented a budget as called for in the Constitution since before the last election season.  Why?  It wouldn’t help them win any elections.  Further out of control spending would show them as irresponsible.  Responsible spending cuts would anger their voting base.  So they abdicated their constitutional responsibility.  They punted.  Now they’re trying to run out the clock with the Republicans on offense.  Positioning them to look like the bad guys.  No matter what happens.  Pain now (cuts).  Or greater pain later (no cuts).  It will be the Republicans’ fault.  Because they’re acting like the grownups here.  While the Democrats play their childish, partisan games.  And when the Democrats break the nation with their spending, like a child they’ll say it wasn’t them.   It was the big elephant in the room.  The big GOP elephant.

But what will the Democrats do if they win this showdown?  What will become of our country?  For if they don’t cut spending they will have to raise taxes.  But not by a little bit.  For the spending cuts proffered by the Republicans still aren’t large enough to solve the impending entitlement crisis.  So if there are no spending cuts the increase in taxes will have to be huge.  Bigger than the dollars in the current debate.  So big that they will truly undermine the anemic economic recovery underway.  Pulling the nation into a deeper recession.  So deep that we may never pull out without even more ‘draconian’ spending cuts.

In the grand scheme of things, a government shutdown is the least of our worries.

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