Towards a government-run health care system

It had occurred to me that if the government runs a cheaper insurance program than private companies, that most people will get the government plan. And that if the government will insure people who don’t have insurance, that private companies will stop providing that benefit to its employees. George Will has similar concerns:

The puzzle is: Why does the president, who says that were America “starting from scratch” he would favor a “single-payer” — government-run — system, insist that health-care reform include a government insurance plan that competes with private insurers? The simplest answer is that such a plan will lead to a single-payer system.

Conservatives say that a government program will have the intended consequence of crowding private insurers out of the market, encouraging employers to stop providing coverage and luring employees from private insurance to the cheaper government option.

Read the whole column. Will concludes by suggesting a way to get people medical insurance who are too poor to buy it themselves or do not have a job with medical benefits: Just give them the money to buy it. That would be far cheaper than overhauling the healthcare system for everyone.

From “government option” to “public option”

More language games to make a policy sound more palatable. From
Hugh Hewitt

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid push to take over and nationalize health insurance via the so-called “government option” has received a face-lift this week, with many advocates of the takeover now calling it the “public option,” which sounds less intrusive.   No matter what you call it, the “government/public option” will destroy private sector insurance very soon after it passes and will push tens of millions of employed and covered Americans from the insurance plans they currently own (and generally like) into the sprawling, top-down, rationing-on-the-sly plan that is just Medicare on steroids, a “public option” that will be just as broke and just as oppressive when it comes to intensive treatment of difficult diseases and conditions as medicare is. 

At any rate, the president laid out elements of his health care plan to the American Medical Association, which applauded the parts that were favorable to doctors and remained silent or even booed the parts that were not. See this report.

Post-traumatic embitterment disorder

The American Psychiatric Association is considering labeling bitterness as a mental illness:

Having floated “Apathy Disorder” as a trial balloon, to see if it might garner enough support for inclusion in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the world’s diagnostic bible of mental illnesses, the organization has generated untold amounts of publicity and incredulity this week by debating at its convention whether bitterness should become a bona fide mental disorder.

Bitterness is “so common and so deeply destructive,” writes Shari Roan at the Los Angeles Times, “that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.” “The disorder is modeled after post-traumatic stress disorder,” she continues, “because it too is a response to a trauma that endures. People with PTSD are left fearful and anxious. Embittered people are left seething for revenge.”

This particular post on the Psychology Today website rejects the idea, saying that bitterness is justified (wait for it) by the Bush administration. But depression is also justified sometimes. What the APA wants to do, apparently, is medicalize moral and spiritual struggles. I’m curious what the treatment for post-traumatic embitterment disorder would be. How will psychiatrists get bitter people to forgive those who trespassed against them? Medication?

Aliens in a strange land

Anthony Sacramone at Strange Herring gets serious, issuing a manifesto, of a sort. Read it all at the link, but here are excerpts:

The time is coming when Christians of all stripes must consider what it means to be a nation within a nation, alien residents, not in a secular culture but in a culture actively hostile to its most deeply cherished beliefs and values. The time is coming when Christians are going to have to come to terms with being an alternative culture within the larger one. And that is going to mean giving greater attention to their schools and hospitals. . . .

For too long Christians assumed that this was a Christian nation, filled with likeminded people who would, despite Hollywood and the mainstream media and a few academics on the margins, would ultimately see their values prevail, due to the much advertised American exceptionalism. Time to reconsider. Time to stop being so complacent. The barbarians are not at the gate — they’re in the house.

This is not a call for a retreat into the woods, for ratcheting up the paranoia or building bomb shelters or stocking up on guns. That’s an admission of defeat, that the God we worship is not greater than the principalities and powers of this world.

It is a call for a celebration of, and respect for, life — new life, elderly life, disabled and handicapped life — and a call for the repristination of our hospitals and schools and libraries and elder-care facilities. We can no longer take for granted that the secular institutions will support our beliefs and values. On the contrary: We must assume they are immersed in a worldview that puts the Naked Personal Will at the center of everything. Narcissism is the prevailing ethos, and that which does not reflect back its own image will be marginalized if not destroyed.

Many non-Catholics are looking to Catholics right now because they have a history of creating such an alternate culture in this country. In the late 19th century, when public schools in big cities began putting sound citizenship at the forefront of its pedagogic agenda, it was with an eye toward de-Catholicizing recent immigrants. And so Catholics resisted by constructing their own schools, hospitals, nursing homes. They created institutions that would preserve and transmit their beliefs and their culture from generation to generation.

Other denominations did as well: Lutherans have their parochials schools and Presbyterians and Methodists built their hospitals and colleges. But do these institutions still see their Christian roots as their ongoing source of life, or have they paved over their living foundation and replaced the stained glass with mirror images of their secular counterparts in order to appeal to a broader swathe of the population just to keep their doors open?

We must also keep in mind another part of Catholic history: The historical counterparts of those people I playfully call barbarians were once upon a time converted. And the contempory variety still may be. We must keep that in mind always. They too are made in the image of God. Their lives are also threatened by the rising tide of irrationalism and nihilism. The Church, in all its institutional manifestations, must be seen as the ark of salvation, a real refuge, an authentic alternative, and not just a kitschy knockoff of worldly diversions.

What would this look like, I wonder? We have schools, homeschools, and colleges. While it’s true that many Christian schools just imitate the secularist curriculum with a little religion thrown in (which is often undone by the rest of the courses), classical Christian education has made a comeback–including here at Patrick Henry College– and is beating the secularists in their own terms, namely, academically. Founding hospitals is a good idea, though the prospect of socialized medicine, which may require performing abortions is making existing Catholic hospitals think they may have to close their doors. Fundamentalists have and are trying to establish parallel cultural institutions (businesses, media, a music industry), but that hasn’t gone too well. But maybe that just needs to be done better, emulating classical culture rather than the pop culture.

One thing I know we need to focus on: Rebuilding the culture requires rebuilding the foundation of every culture, the family. Whatever the state does to the institution of marriage, Christians need to build solid, happy, permanent marriages among themselves. Whatever the pop culture does to mess up children, Christian parents need to raise solid, happy, growing children.

Notice that this all, including converting the barbarians, requires recovering the doctrine of vocation!

Health care reform and end-of-life care

Tevi Troy reports on what President Obama told the New York Times about his health care proposals and end of life care:

He tells the story of his grandmother, who got an expensive hip replacement, then died two weeks later. President Obama says he “would have paid for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother.” At the same time, however, he notes that “whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question.” Furthermore, he recognizes that Americans don’t want to hear that we will not provide expensive late-stage care, a la England. As the president puts it, “If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement, and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.”

His answer to this question, however, is also somewhat upsetting — and not just because he calls denying care to the terminally ill “very difficult” and “upsetting,” but never “something we won’t do.” He says that “there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” And not only will this be difficult, he claims, but he has trouble imagining “the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” It is unclear what this group will look like, but the notion of some empyrean body, developed outside the normal political channels, making health-care decisions for the country, is a notion that makes me very, very nervous.

Does it make you nervous? Won’t state-controlled, state-dispensed health care open the door for such cost-saving measures as euthanasia?

The Hippocratic oath gets in the way

Betsy McCaughey tells how an administration health care planner thinks the Hippocratic Oath is getting in the way:

Patients count on their doctor to do whatever is possible to treat their illness. That is the promise doctors make by taking the Hippocratic Oath.

But President Obama’s advisers are looking to save money by interfering with that oath and controlling your doctor’s decisions.

Ezekiel Emanuel sees the Hippocratic Oath as one factor driving “overuse” of medical care. He is a policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and a brother of Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff.

Dr. Emanuel argues that “peer recognition goes to the most thorough and aggressive physicians.” He has lamented that doctors regard the “Hippocratic Oath’s admonition to ‘use my power to help the patient to the best of my ability and judgment’ as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.”

Of course, that is what patients hope their doctor will do.

But President Barack Obama is pledging to rein in the nation’s health care spending. The framework for influencing your doctor’s decisions was included in the stimulus package, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The legislation sets a goal that every individual’s treatments will be recorded by computer, and your doctor will be guided by electronically delivered protocols on “appropriate” and “cost-effective” care.

HT: Strange Herring