Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Libertarians: Obama health care rationing plan makes America sick

America’s third largest party Tuesday blasted comments by White House chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers that Americans are getting too much health care and the government should begin rationing access to medical procedures.

“Decisions on medical care should be made by patient and his or her doctor, not by a government employee with a calculator figuring out whether treating your illness is in Washington’s fiscal interest,” said Donny Ferguson, Libertarian National Committee Communications Director.

“Whether it’s tonsillectomies or hysterectomies…procedures are done three times as frequently [in some parts of the country than others] and there’s no benefit in terms of the right kind of cost-effectiveness, by making the right kind of investments and protection, some experts…estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system,” said Summers on “Meet the Press” Sunday, quoted in The Washington Times.

“Summers’ statement that Americans have too much health care, and it’s up to Barack Obama to cut off their access is chilling,” said Ferguson. “Even more disturbing is the White House’s view that private decisions on your medical care should be viewed as a government-run ‘investment.’”

“The same people who gave us Agent Orange, the IRS and the Hurricane Katrina response have no business making my doctor’s decisions for him.”

Despite assurances from the White House that rationing health care leads to better treatment, information from rationed health care systems tells a different story.

Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, only one fifth die in the United States, compared to one third in France and Germany, and almost half in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, Cato Institute scholar John Goodman finds, citing statistics from their national health care services. Goodman’s research finds among men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, fewer than one fifth die in the United States, compared to one fourth in Canada, almost half in France, and more than half in the United Kingdom.

The culprit is often the kind waiting lists the White House proposed Sunday. In 2000, the British medical journal Clinical Oncology, studying lung cancer patients waiting for government permission to get medical treatment found that about 20 percent “of potentially curable patients became incurable on the waiting list.”

Another 2003 British study found that after major surgery, 2.5 percent of American patients died in hospital, compared to 10 percent of similar Britons. Seriously ill patients in U.S. hospitals die at only one-seventh the rate of those in the British system, where government controls, prices and rations health care, according to Atlas Economic Research Foundation senior fellow Deroy Murdock.

“The proper way to reform health care is to get government out of the way, drive down prices by opening up a health insurance market closed off to competition by politicians doing the bidding of insurance lobbyists and remove FDA roadblocks that keep medication off the market and drive up the costs to develop lifesaving drugs,” said Ferguson.

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