Tag Archives: Single-Payer

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.

Canada passes criminal law against undesired gender pronouns

Canada criminalizes speech that makes people feel bad
Canada criminalizes speech that makes people feel bad

The Daily Signal reports:

Canada passed a law Thursday making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns. Critics say that Canadians who do not subscribe to progressive gender theory could be accused of hate crimes, jailed, fined, and made to take anti-bias training.

Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-16, which puts “gender identity” and “gender expression” into both the country’s Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime category of its Criminal Code by a vote of 67-11, according to LifeSiteNews. The bill now only needs royal assent from the governor general.

Royal assent is a formality, it is automatic.

I have some friends who are big fans of Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal Party prime minister. Trudeau is a former substitute drama teacher, who was elected prime minister because of his famous last name. He knows about as much about economics and national security as this keyboard that I am typing on. 

For his part, Trudeau is very pleased with this law:

“Great news,” announced Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister. “Bill C-16 has passed the Senate – making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression. #LoveisLove.”

So is Canada’s attorney general – the chief law enforcement officer of the land. She tweeted:

“Proud that Bill C-16has passed in the Senate,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s attorney general and minister of justice. “All Canadians should feel #FreeToBeMe.”

Yes, everyone is free to be themselves… except when they throw you in the slammer for offending people with mental illnesses.

You’ll recall that one University of Toronto professor is in big trouble for opposing this law. He is quoted in the article:

Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, and one of the bill’s fiercest critics, spoke to the Senate before the vote, insisting that it infringed upon citizens’ freedom of speech and institutes what he views as dubious gender ideology into law.

“Compelled speech has come to Canada,” stated Peterson. “We will seriously regret this.”

“[Ideologues are] using unsuspecting and sometimes complicit members of the so-called transgender community to push their ideological vanguard forward,” said the professor to the Senate in May. “The very idea that calling someone a term that they didn’t choose causes them such irreparable harm that legal remedies should be sought [is] an indication of just how deeply the culture of victimization has sunk into our society.”

Peterson has previously pledged not to use irregular gender pronouns and students have protested him for his opposition to political correctness.

“This tyrannical bill is nothing but social engineering to the nth degree, all in the name of political correctness,” Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Toronto, a pro-life political group in Canada, told LifeSiteNews.

Should a Christian try to make a life in a country that has not only taxpayer funded abortion, but taxpayer funded sex changes, too? Seems to me that this a joke country, and people of conscience should get out as quickly as they can. It’s a clown country, ruled by amoral idiots.

Google’s YouTube censors video of national abortion conference speakers

Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood
Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood

I can’t show you the video any more by embedding a YouTube clip, because YouTube censored the video. YouTube is owned by Google.

The Washington Free Beacon has an article about YouTube’s censorship of the video.

Excerpt:

YouTube has deleted a video that showed Planned Parenthood executives admitting abortion is “killing,” leading pro-life activists to accuse the site of censorship.

[…]The link to the three-minute video now redirects to a message from YouTube, saying, “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.” It does not elaborate on which terms or condition the video violated, nor does it give a reason why it was taken down. YouTube did not return request for comment.

But the Daily Signal has posted something about the video.

Exerpt:

Lawyers for Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden released a new video Thursday that exposes horrifying statements from leaders of the abortion industry during National Abortion Federation conventions in California in 2014 and 2015.

The National Abortion Federation describes itself as “the professional association of abortion providers.” The group says it “exhibits and presents at numerous conferences … about topics related to abortion care.”

The video notes that “Planned Parenthood makes up about 50 percent of [the National Abortion Federation’s] members and leadership.”

The video opens with a Planned Parenthood medical director speaking on a panel about “heads that get stuck” and the “hemorrhages that we manage.”

She is later seen telling a panel: “Given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here, ask me why I come to work every day. Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.”

A Planned Parenthood abortionist then complains about how an unborn child “is a tough little object” and “very difficult” to take apart.

A lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union is heard remarking, “When the skull is broken, that’s really sharp” as the crowd laughs about the difficulty of “getting that skull out.”

Another Planned Parenthood official, speaking on a panel, recalls that an “eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross.”  The crowd laughs.

The video shows a procurement manager from StemExpress, which acquires fetal tissue for research, commenting that there are “a lot of [abortion] clinics that we work with that, I mean, it helps them out significantly.”

At another point, a  Planned Parenthood official says of clinics providing tissue from abortions that “the truth is that some might want to do it … to increase their revenues. And we can’t stop them.”

The Daily Signal article notes that California is currently prosecuting the Center for Medical Progress for releasing videos of abortionists explaining in plain English what it is exactly that they do for a living, and how they maximize revenue earned by killing unborn children.

CMP is being defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

If abortion were such a wonderful thing, you would think that abortion providers would be anxious to brag to the public about the great work they are doing.

Instead, countries that have legalized abortion have to censor news stories and prosecute nurses and doctors who refuse to perform abortions. Naturally, these nurses and doctors are not allowed to tell their stories or they will face criminal charges.

There is a great push in the United States right now by the abortion profiteers to force pro-life nurses and doctors out of the medical profession.

Wesley J. Smith explains in First Things:

Doctors in the United States cannot be forced to perform abortions or assist suicides. But that may soon change. Bioethicists and other medical elites have launched a frontal assault against doctors seeking to practice their professions under the values established by the Hippocratic Oath. The campaign’s goal? To force doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others in the health field who hold pro-life or orthodox religious views to choose between their careers and their convictions.

Ethics opinions, legislation, and court filings seeking to deny “medical conscience” have proliferated as journals, legislative bodies, and the courts have taken up the cause. In the last year, these efforts have moved from the relative hinterlands of professional discussions into the center of establishment medical discourse. Most recently, preeminent bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel—one of Obamacare’s principal architects—coauthored with Ronit Y. Stahl an attack on medical conscience in the New England Journal of Medicine, perhaps the world’s most prestigious medical journal. When advocacy of this kind is published by the NEJM, it is time to sound the air raid sirens.

Naturally, in countries with single payer socialist medicine, that effort is much further along. Canada, for example, has been prosecuting pro-life nurses and doctors for decades. In a signle-payer system run by the secular left, there just is no room for conscience, much as there was no room for Germans who wanted to abstain from killing innocent Jews in Nazi Germany. When you are in a single payer health care system, you have to kill or be prosecuted for listening to your conscience.

Here’s an article about it from Evolution News:

Ontario, Canada, has passed a law formally legalizing lethal injection euthanasia. And it will force all provincial doctors to be complicit by either doing the deed themselves to all legally qualified patients who request to be killed, or by tasking them with procuring a death doctor.

From the website of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (my emphasis):

In Ontario, health regulatory colleges are responsible for regulating their respective professions in the public interest. In doing so, colleges may establish policies and standards that their members must comply with, including policies and standards regarding medical assistance in dying.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requires that when physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient. An effective referral means “a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician, other health-care professional, or agency”.

Think about this. Three years ago, it would have been a felony for doctors to kill patients, potentially landing them in prison.

Now, refusing to participate in homicide could cost them their medical licenses.

Single payer countries are very supportive of killing the elderly, since this reduces health care costs and allows them to have more health care money to buy votes by providing things that leftists want with taxpayer money, e.g. free sex-reassignment surgery, free contraceptives, free drug injection clinics for people addicted to illegal drugs, free breast enlargements, free IVF for unmarried elderly feminists, etc.

I see the effort to censor the CMP videos as part of the attempt to nationalize health care and criminalize dissent from the leftist agenda of deeming certain lives not as valuable as other lives.

 

Trump signs executive order giving Americans relief from Obamacare fees and taxes

Health insurance costs rose dramatically under Obama
Health insurance costs rose dramatically under Obama (click for larger image)

The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Excerpt:

On his first day in office, President Trump signed an executive order that would relieve the economic burden that Obamacare has caused, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail.

[…]Trump promised Americans that on day one of taking office, he would ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare,” Trump said. “As it appears Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight, the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama, and abetted by the Supreme Court, will be difficult to repair unless the next president and a Republican congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the healthcare industry.”

“It is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation,” Trump said. “We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”

Since Trump’s economic policy draws on the experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation, we can expect that the alternative to Obamacare will be one based on a system that is proven to be successful. Switzerland has a health care system that has universal coverage, yet is fully privatized. It costs little, and delivers a lot of health care. Their system works, unlike socialist health care systems in the UK and Canada – which Obama was trying to emulate.

House Republicans say:

“Our goal is a truly patient-centered system, which means more options to choose from, lower costs, and greater control over your coverage,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). “And as we work to get there, we will make sure there is a stable transition period so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.”

The nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) echoed that sentiment, saying at his confirmation hearing that it is imperative that individuals have health coverage and have greater choices and opportunities to get the coverage they need.

“I think there’s been a lot of talk about individuals losing health care coverage—that is not our goal, nor is it our desire, nor is it our plan,” Price said.

The Daily Signal has more details on the relief provided to poor Americans in his executive order. It directs Trump’s subordinates to:

[…]exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.

The Daily Signal also comments:

As to the substance, the new president’s clear directive is for his appointees to focus on minimizing the damaging effects of the law. That constitutes a sharp change in direction from the one taken by the Obama administration.

The implementation approach taken by the Obama administration was essentially to try to increase subsidized enrollment heedless of any resulting costs or disruptions to either the public or private sectors. This executive order signals that the Trump administration’s first order of business for Obamacare will instead be to minimize those costs and disruptions.

Some numbers from CNBC:

For many Obamacare customers this year, they’ll be paying more for less.

A new report on Obamacare plans details how plan premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket insurance costs have grown sharply even as the size of networks of health providers covered by those plans are shrinking in 2017.

The report from the Avalere consultancy also details how the number of insurers selling Obamacare plans have also shrunk, decreasing competition in the individual health plan market.

Last year, just 4 percent of all regions of the United States had only one participating insurer on Obamacare exchange, according to Avalere’s analysis. This year, 36 percent of all regions in the U.S. will have only one participating health insurer on an Obamacare exchanges.

Avalere’s report also found that in 2017, just 31 percent of all exchange-sold plans are “preferred provider organizations” or “point of service” plans, down from 52 percent of all plans in 2014, the first year of Obamacare coverage

PPOs generally have a wider networks of doctors and hospitals covered by the plan, and cover more out-of-network services than do other types of plans, including health maintenance organizations.

I have a friend who is a Democrat. For every month of the last 6 years, I have been presenting him with the numbers on Obamacare showing the negative impact on small businesses and poor Americans. He makes 6 figures as a software engineer, and knows literally nothing about economics. I have even told him stories about some of my friends who are poorer who struggled with the financial burdens caused by the law. His response was stunning: “what does this matter to you, you have health care through your employer”. That’s how Democrats think. As long as they are OK, who cares about the poor. The important thing for them is that government run everything and make all the decisions, because ordinary people cannot be trusted with freedom.

You can read more about the disaster of Obamacare here in a report by the Heritage Foundation.

Is health care a right or a commodity?

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Here is a splendid post about the economics of health care from Ben Shapiro, writing for National Review.

He responds to a view held by those on the radical left: people need health care, therefore health care is a right.

Excerpt:

The idea here seems to be that unless you declare medical care a right rather than a commodity, you are soulless — that as Marx might put it, necessity, rather than autonomy, creates rights.

This is foolhardy, both morally and practically.

Morally, you have no right to demand medical care of me. I may recognize your necessity and offer charity; my friends and I may choose to band together and fund your medical care. But your necessity does not change the basic math: Medical care is a service and a good provided by a third party. No matter how much I need bread, I do not have a right to steal your wallet or hold up the local bakery to obtain it. Theft may end up being my least immoral choice under the circumstances, but that does not make it a moral choice, or suggest that I have not violated your rights in pursuing my own needs.

But the left believes that declaring necessities rights somehow overcomes the individual rights of others. If you are sick, you now have the right to demand that my wife, who is a doctor, care for you. Is there any limit to this right? Do you have the right to demand that the medical system provide life-saving care forever, to the tune of millions of dollars of other people’s taxpayer dollars or services? How, exactly, can there be such a right without the government’s rationing care, using compulsion to force individuals to provide it, and confiscating mass sums of wealth to pay for it?

The answer: There can’t be. Rights that derive from individual need inevitably violate individual autonomy.

But there are ways to make a commodity less expensive, and of higher quality. It happens all the times in free markets, where innovators are rewarded with profits – just think of the people who sell smartphones.

More:

To make a commodity cheaper and better, two elements are necessary: profit incentive and freedom of labor. The government destroys both of these elements in the health-care industry. It decides medical reimbursement rates for millions of Americans, particularly poor Americans; this, in turn, creates an incentive for doctors not to take government-sponsored health insurance. It regulates how doctors deal with patients, the sorts of training doctors must undergo, and the sorts of insurance they must maintain; all of this convinces fewer Americans to become doctors. Undersupply of doctors generally and of doctors who will accept insurance specifically, along with overdemand stimulated by government-driven health-insurance coverage, leads to mass shortages. The result is an overreliance on emergency care, costs for which are distributed among government, hospitals, and insurance payers.

So, what’s the solution for poor people? Not to declare medical care a “right,” and certainly not to dismiss reliance on the market as perverse cruelty. Markets are the solution in medical care, just as they are in virtually every other area.

Treating medical care as a commodity means temporary shortages, and it means that some people will not get everything we would wish them to have. But that’s also true of government-sponsored medical care, as the most honest advocates will admit. And whereas government-sponsored medical care requires a top-down approach that violates individual liberties, generates overdemand, and quashes supply, markets prize individual liberties, reduce demand (you generally demand less of what you must pay for), and heighten supply through profit incentive.

It’s always a good idea to look at how health care is working in countries that do have single payer health care systems. Canada has a single-payer system. How is that working out?

The Fraser Institute issued a recent report on health care in Canada:

Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. In order to document the lengthy queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the country, the Fraser Institute has—for over two decades—surveyed specialist physicians across 12 specialties and 10 provinces.

This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have in-creased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20.0 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 18.3 weeks reported in 2015. This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 115% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

[…]It is estimated that, across the 10 provinces, the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2016 is 973,505. This means that, assuming that each person waits for only one procedure, 2.7% of Canadians are waiting for treatment in 2016.

[…]Patients also experience significant waiting times for various diagnostic technologies across the provinces. This year, Canadians could expect to wait 3.7 weeks for a computed tomography (CT) scan, 11.1 weeks for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and 4.0 weeks for an ultrasound.

Research has repeatedly indicated that wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences. Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish. In certain instances, they can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities. In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.

The typical cost of the single-payer health care system to a Canadian family is nearly $12,000.

Socialist Canada has been doing a lot of taxing and spending to try to fix this problem, but the problem is getting worse. And no wonder: when the government controls health care, it becomes a tool for buying votes. Abortions and sex changes are “health care” in Canada. Breast enlargements and IVF are “health care” in the UK. Of course, good luck getting treatment when you are in your old age and will not be voting much in the future : both Canada and the UK have euthanasia programs to get rid of elderly people who are no longer as useful to politicians as young people who still have lots of voting ahead of them.