Tag Archives: Health-care

Trump administration has fired hundreds of Veteran’s Affairs officials

VA health care wait times
VA health care wait times

I expected Trump to get into trouble on Twitter even after he was elected, and he is certainly doing that. But he’s also doing a lot of conservative things, too. And those are more important, because they are policies.

Here’s the latest “Good Trump” news reported by the far-left CBS News.

Excerpt:

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that more than 500 officials have been fired for misconduct since President Trump took office earlier this year, according to data posted online.

In an effort for more transparency and accountability within the VA, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin announced that a public list of employee “accountability actions” will be posted online and updated weekly.

The list outlines a total of 747 disciplinary actions including 526 employees who were fired since January 20. The actions affected a myriad of positions ranging from a tractor operator to VA attorneys.The list does not include employee names due to privacy reasons but does note the employee’s position and VA region.

“Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent,” Secretary Shulkin said in a statement.

This announcement comes less than a month after President Trump signed the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act which strengthened the ability of Secretary Shulkin to discipline VA officials. President Trump said that previous laws “…kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable.”

Why is this important? Well, the VA health care delivery system is the only true single-payer health care system in the United States. It’s run by Big Government bureaucrats who get paid a lot of money, regardless of how they serve their customers. When the administrators want a raise, they just falsify records to hide their failure to perform. It’s so bad that veterans are dying while waiting for treatment. And since it’s not a for-profit system, there’s nothing they can do about it. They can’t threaten to withhold payment, and they can’t take their business somewhere else. It’s a government-run monopoly, and customers are treated like garbage.

Here’s an example reported by the Washington Free Beacon:

More than 100 veterans died while waiting for care at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., over a nine-month span ending in August 2015, according to a new government report.

The VA Office of Inspector General found in a recent healthcare inspection that 225 veterans at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System facility died with open or pending consults between Oct. 1, 2015 and Aug. 9, 2015. Nearly half—117—of those patients died while experiencing delays in receiving care.

The inspector general reported that 43 percent of the 371 consults scheduled for patients who ended up dying were not timely because of a failure by VA employees to follow proper procedure. The report was unable to substantiate claims that patients died as a result of the delayed consults.

Fox News has a different example from a different VA hospital:

More than 200 veterans have died while waiting for medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, two years after the facility was at the center of a scandal in which patient records were altered to hide the length of their waiting period.

In a report released Tuesday, the VA Inspector General’s office (OIG) found that 215 deceased patients had open specialist consultation appointments at the Phoenix facility on the day they died. The report also found that one veteran never received an appointment for a cardiology exam “that could have prompted further definitive testing and interventions that could have forestalled his death.”

[…]The report also found that nearly a quarter of all specialist consultations in 2015 were canceled, in part due to employee confusion stemming from outdated scheduling procedures that were not updated until this past August.

The Free Beacon and Fox News are centrist news sources, so let’s look at something from the radical kooky fringe of fake news.

Here’s the far-left Clown News Network (CNN) reporting on another VA failure from 2014, when Obama was still President:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care.
But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.

Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.

Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:

There’s an “official” list that’s shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there’s the real list that’s hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

I hope that’s not fake news, but with CNN, you never know. Let’s just assume it’s real for now.

Right now, we have a Republican President, Republican House, and Republican Senate, so something is finally being done to fix a problem that existed throughout the eight years of the Obama administration.

One million patients per week cannot get a doctor’s appointment in socialist UK

The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care
The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care

What would happen if government took over health care, and created one of the largest bureaucracies in the world?

Absolute failure.

The UK Telegraph explains:

One million patients a week cannot get appointments with GPs, amid the longest waiting times on record, new figures show.

[…]The NHS figures show the number waiting at least a week to see their GP has risen by 56 per cent in five years, with one in five now waiting this long.

The pressures left 11.3 per cent of patients unable to get an appointment at all – a 27 per cent rise since 2012.  This amounts to around 47 million occasions on which patients attempted but failed to secure help from their GP, forcing them to give up, try again later or turn to Accident & Emergency departments.

Rising numbers of patients struggled to even get through on the phone, with 27.8 per cent of those polled citing difficulties, compared with 18.5 per cent in 2012.

[…]The survey of more than 800,000 patients – which is held annually – found worsening access to family doctors across a range of measures.

GPs said the NHS was “at breaking point” with patients increasingly giving up their search for help, even though their health was deteriorating.

But, I am often told by socialists that American health care is just terrible compared to government-run health care systems in other countries. After all, who gives you better service? Private companies in a free market, like Amazon.com? Or government-run monopolies, like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles?

Let’s take a look at this analysis by a medical doctor who is also a Stanford University professor:

Fact No. 1:  Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.[1]  Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.  Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway.  The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

Fact No. 6:  Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.  Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long – sometimes more than a year – to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer.[6]  All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada.[7]  In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.[8]

Fact No. 9:  Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K.  Maligned as a waste by economists and policymakers naïve to actual medical practice, an overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identified computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade.[11]  [See the table.]  The United States has 34 CT scanners per million Americans, compared to 12 in Canada and eight in Britain.  The United States has nearly 27 MRI machines per million compared to about 6 per million in Canada and Britain.[12]

UK taxpayers pay a lot more in taxes than Americans do. Is it worth it?

Honestly, who would you rather have running your health care? Doctors or unionized government workers who never passed high school arithmetic? The free market is best.

Analysis: how much did each Obamacare mandate drive up health insurance premiums?

How each Obamacare mandate affected the health insurance premiums
How each Obamacare mandate affected the health insurance premiums

Since 2010, we were inundated with reports and studies from various groups that argued that the new mandates in Obamacare would drive up the cost of health insurance. And that was actually observed to happen. Year after year, health insurance costs rose – usually by double digits. We knew why this was happening, too: Obamacare required health insurers to cover more conditions, many of them not even related to health insurance.

Here is an an analysis of which mandates caused health insurance costs to rise the most from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Obamacare caused premiums to rise for various reasons, chief among them being the vast new regulations the law imposed on insurance markets. A new analysis from Milliman backs this up. The study provided estimates of the average impact that various Obamacare regulations had on premiums.

[…]Changes in morbidity (or the sickness of the population) due to newly uninsured by itself caused 4 percent increases in premiums nationally, but in Ohio it raised premiums by 35-40 percent.

Age is also a factor in premium prices, and Obamacare disrupted the natural order by dictating the age banding, which disproportionately harmed young people. (Age banding here refers to how much the most expensive plans can be in comparison to the cheapest.)

Before Obamacare, the national rate of age banding was 1-to-5. In other words, the most expensive plan was five times more costly than the cheapest plan, with expense increasing with age.

Obamacare mandated that the rate be set at 1-to-3, so that the most expensive plan could be no more than three times as expensive. While elderly people’s premiums might have seen fewer increases—which is both due to banding and the fact that Obamacare is close to a death spiral—young people have suffered.

Overall, young people can expect to have rate increases between 58.9 percent and 91.8 percent using national averages. However, not every state had a 1-to-5 age band.

In places like Ohio, the effects are far worse—it had a 1-to-6 age band. Even accounting for the differences in its population from the national average, young people in Ohio can still expect to pay an average of 7.7 percent more on top of other increases.

In addition to this “youth tax,” mandates like the “essential health benefits” and actuarial requirements further punish all Americans with benefits that they don’t need, at prices they can’t afford. While in places like Maryland these mandates might only contribute 8 to 10 percent to premium increases, nationally they raise premiums by an average of 16.5 percent, up to 32 percent.

Overall, accounting for gender, age, and the relative proportions of all those groups, Americans are paying 44.5 to 68 percent more in premiums owing just to Title I regulations. That number is even higher when factoring all the other adverse effects of Obamacare.

Notice that “guaranteed issue”, which is so popular with those who feel that they can somehow be generous by spending other people’s money, is one of the biggest drivers of health insurance costs. When pollsters ask people whether they want to keep these provisions, they mostly say yes. But when the pollsters ask whether they want to keep these provisions if it means that their own health insurance costs will go up, they mostly say no. It’s amazing how American voters, especially Democrats, love the idea of spending other people’s money. As long as they don’t have to pay for it, then it’s a great idea to spend someone else’s money in order to buy the feeling (and the peer approval) of being generous and compassionate.

And after 8 years of Obama offering that feeling to his supporters, we now have a national debt of $20 trillion, instead of $10 trillion. Mind you, in decades of asking my co-workers, I’ve never yet met one Democrat who could tell me what the national debt was. I guess that would interrupt their feelings of generosity and compassion.

 

 

Conservative legislators introduce new consumer-focused replacement for Obamacare

Obamacare premium growth, 2015-2016
Obamacare insurers are dropping out, which raises premiums higher, 2015-2016

I have your Thursday good news ready to go – from the Daily Signal.

This is how you reform health care:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., introduced a bill to replace Obamacare on Wednesday, increasing the pressure on GOP leaders who continue to discuss moving the law’s replacement at the same time as its repeal.

The legislation already has the full support of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 of the lower chamber’s conservative members. Conservatives in both the House and Senate have said they want to see repeal efforts move faster, and the lawmakers are hoping that the legislation is a turning point in the repeal-and-replace debate.

“We’re excited about the fact that it will finally be able to address many of the concerns that we’re hearing, whether it’s at town halls or personal calls from our constituents about pre-existing conditions, about how to empower the consumer in terms of their health care choice, and ultimately drive down the price of health care,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Wednesday.

Called the Obamacare Replacement Act, the legislation shares the hallmarks of other GOP replacement plans, and Paul said it was a “consensus bill” that pulled aspects of other proposals together.

[…]Paul and Sanford’s bill focuses heavily on the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs), which are medical savings accounts. Their legislation allows consumers to contribute an unlimited amount annually to HSAs. Currently, consumers can contribute a maximum of $3,400 per year.

The Obamacare Replacement Act also creates a $5,000 tax credit for those who contribute to a HSA, and prohibits consumers from using the money in their accounts to pay for elective abortions.

Under Paul and Sanford’s bill, consumers who don’t receive insurance through their employers can deduct the cost of premiums from their taxable incomes, which serves to equalize the tax treatment for individuals and employers.

Additionally, the legislation allows individuals and small businesses to band together through membership in an Association Health Plan to buy health insurance. Paul and Sanford said these pooling mechanisms will decrease costs for consumers.

The bill also allows insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits mandate, which is a list of services insurance plans are required to cover without cost-sharing.

If you want to drive down the cost of health care, you let people get covered for only what they need – no abortions, sex changes, IVF, acupuncture, drug rehabilitation, breast enlargements, fertility treatments, etc. Allowing people to buy plans across state lines will mean that consumers in blue states like California and Massachusetts won’t be forced to buy in-state plans that cover all kinds of progressive garbage that they don’t even want.

Look how Obamacare is falling apart:

At the Future of Healthcare event put on by the Wall Street Journal, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that Obamacare was only “getting worse” because there weren’t enough young, healthy enrollees to pay for the sick people covered by the Obamacare exchanges. Bertolini said it was due to “how poorly structured the funding mechanism and premium model is,” as premiums keep increasing with the death spiral, causing less people to sign up, and thus resulting in even higher premiums.

“I think you will see a lot more withdrawals this year of plans,” Bertolini said.

On Wednesday, Humana–which came to a mutual agreement with Aetna not to merge–announcedthat it was withdrawing from Obamacare altogether. In 2016, UnitedHealth also announced that they would be pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges, and Aetna itself said they would only stay in four Obamacare exchanges.

Bertolini stated at the event that the company has not decided if it will remain in these Obamacare exchanges.

“There isn’t any risk sharing going on in Nebraska,” Bertolini said, pointing to the fact that Aetna was the only insurer left in that exchange. “It will cost us a lot of money.”

Now is the time to replace it!

The problem with Obamacare is that it didn’t do anything to leverage the strengths of the free enterprise system. Instead of turning health care purchasing into competitive online e-commerce (i.e. – Amazon), they turned it into the DMV and the post office. What else would you expect from clowns who were born rich, and never held private sector jobs in their entire lives? You don’t expect the people who run the single-payer VA health system that is killing people on waiting lists to do a good job of reforming health care, do you? Let the free market solve it. Choice and competition means lower prices.

Watch Ted Cruz debate Bernie Sanders on health care policy and repealing Obamacare

This debate happened on CNN earlier in the week. Thankfully, I was out traveling, so I actually had a TV to watch this in my hotel room.

Here is the full video:

It’s 90 minutes long. No commercials. This was basically a debate of similar substance to the William Lane Craig debates, where actual economic evidence was continuously produced in order to show who was telling the truth, and who was just trying to be popular by saying what people who are uneducated at economics want to hear. In short: there was a clear winner and loser in this debate, and it was clear all the way through, and was reinforced over and over every time evidence was produced. The person producing the evidence would turn his back on the camera, and return to his podium to get the evidence. That person won the debate by being grounded in reality.

Also, the questions were excellent, especially from the small business owners who were impacted by Obamacare. The moderators were biased towards Sanders, but not excessively.

For those who cannot watch, there is an article at the Daily Signal.

Full text:

In a prime-time debate on CNN this week, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, discussed “The Future of Obamacare” in America. Cruz, a leading critic of the law, used the moment to outline the law’s failures.

Here are four things Cruz said about Obamacare:

1) “Now, nobody thinks we’re done once Obamacare is repealed. Once Obamacare is repealed, we need commonsense reform that increases competition, that empowers patients, that gives you more choices, that puts you in charge of your health care, rather than empowering government bureaucrats to get in the way. And these have been commonsense ideas.”

2) “Indeed, I don’t know if the cameras can see this, but in 70 percent of the counties in America, on Obamacare exchanges, you have a choice of one or two health insurance plans, that’s it … It’s interesting. You look at this map, this also very much looks like the electoral map that elected Donald Trump. It’s really quite striking that the communities that have been hammered by this disaster of a law said enough already.”

During one of the more powerful moments in the debate, Cruz held up aHeritage Foundation chart showing viewers how many counties in the U.S. have access to only one or two insurers under Obamacare. Additionally, only 11 percent of counties have access to four or more insurance providers.

3) “Whenever you put government in charge of health care, what it means is they ration. They decide you get care and you don’t. I don’t think the government has any business telling you you’re not entitled to receive health care.”

The U.S. should not envy other health care systems, especially Canada and the United Kingdom, Cruz said. He referred to a governor from Canada who came to the U.S. specifically to have heart surgery.

4) “That’s why I think the answer is not more of Obamacare, more government control, more of what got us in this mess. Rather, the answer is empower you. Give you choices. Lower prices. Lower premiums. Lower deductibles. Empower you and put you back in charge of your health care.”

Obamacare is burdening Americans. The average deductible for a family on a bronze plan is $12,393, according to a HealthPocket analysis. According to aneHealth report, the average nationwide premium increase for individuals is 99 percent and 140 percent for families from 2013-2017.

I really recommend you watch this debate, because it these things were done on a weekly or monthly basis, then people would be able to think critically about what they are presented with from the mainstream media, Hollywood elites and liberal academics.