24 May 2013 Health Care Odds & Ends: Single-Payer Edition
If ObamaCare proves to be a complicated mess, you can bet that many on the left will be pushing for a single-payer health care system to replace it. Thus, this Odds & Ends is dedicated to the, ahem, wonders of a single-payer system. Consider it a prelude to blog posts next week that will be dedicated almost exclusively to single-payer topics
1. From the Hull Daily Mail in Britain: “Why is Rory, 7, waiting for life-saving heart surgery after 18 months?” Rory Morris needs a replacement heart valve. After a year’s wait, he was scheduled for an operation at the Leeds General Infirmary heart unit. His operation was delayed when he developed a chest infection and then was further delayed when “the heart unit was plunged into controversy and closed for a week because of fears over unusually high death rates. It meant Rory could not be readmitted.” Read it all here.
2. Emergency rooms—known as Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments—in Britain are in crisis. The heads of 18 A&E departments sent a letter to the National Health Service warning that “increasing demand through A&E has led to toxic overcrowding, with patients left being treated in corridors while staff are facing ‘institutional exhaustion’.” One of the letter signers is Magnus Harrison, head of A&E at University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Despite the problems at UHNS, the response from officials has been, “Move along now, nothing to see here.” According to The Sentinel, “UHNS operational director Vanessa Gardener told last month’s board meeting that staff were continuing to deliver safe A&E services and that complaints had fallen.” And, of course, the politicians are engaged in their second most favorite indoor sport over the matter, that of finger-pointing.
3. Turning to our single-payer neighbor up north, an adolescent girl who is suffering from severe depression and anxiety “is on months-long waiting lists for psychiatric treatment.” Her mother was recently able to get her into Hull Secure Services, but she smuggled in a razor and cut herself ten times. After that incident, the mother wrote to Health Minister Fred Horne,
A couple of months ago you sent me a letter saying that you had a 10-year plan in place. My daughter could very well be dead by then, if she keeps going the way she has been. If that is the case I will be holding you and your policies accountable. I have had to fight to get her access to even the most basic of resources to keep her safe in a maze of unavailable, disconnected, poorly funded and confusing services. I am exhausted, afraid for my daughter’s safety, and extremely pissed off. I expect you to do something now, not 10 years from now. Get off your ass and fix it.
4. Also in Canada, the province of New Brunswick is having trouble staffing enough doctors. In fact, the “New Brunswick Medical Society says there are more than 50,000 people without a family doctor in the province.” Apparently, though, the province is actually discouraging more physicians from working in New Brunswick by limiting how many receive “billing numbers”, something every physician in Canada needs to get paid by the government. A government making the problem worse? Go figure.
5. Australia’s single-payer system is setting a new record—for number of patients on the waiting list. The waiting list for elective surgery has now exceeded 50,000 for the first time ever in the state of Victoria. Somehow, though, the Aussies don’t seem too proud about the milestone.
Oh, and looking over the website for Physicians for a National Health Program, the single-payer advocacy group in the U.S., there is no mention of these stories. Can’t imagine why.
6. Okay, now for a few non-single-payer stories. From the Wall Street Journal, apparently some bigger employers have found a loophole in ObamaCare that allows them to provide cheap insurance while avoiding the fine for not providing adequate coverage. The plans,
cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more. Some of the plans wouldn’t cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all….Federal officials say this type of plan, in concept, would appear to qualify as acceptable minimum coverage under the law, and let most employers avoid an across-the-workforce $2,000-per-worker penalty for firms that offer nothing….Administration officials confirmed in interviews that the skinny plans, in concept, would be sufficient to avoid the across-the-workforce penalty. Several expressed surprise that employers would consider the approach.
I suspect Administration officials will be surprised about a great many things as this law rolls out.
7. Finally, another loophole in the law could result in doctors not getting paid for treatment, and, yes, more unions are increasingly unhappy with the law, saying that it doesn’t give them enough special treatment is unfair to them.