The battle of the budget heats up this week as both the House and Senate begin floor debate on budget resolutions passed out of their respective budget committees last week. The House version included three separate $1 billion budget reconciliation directives to specific committees to write legislation — that would be sped through Congress under the “budget reconciliation” umbrella — on Obama’s three biggest agenda items: the government takeover of healthcare, an over $3,100 per family annual energy “cap and trade” tax, and a massive nationalized student loan program.
Even though Democrats dominate the majority in both houses, these neocom programs are so controversial that the far left Congressional leadership is seeking parliamentary mechanisms to shove them through without Republican support and in a manner that would give political cover to Democrats misrepresenting conservative districts. This budget reconciliation maneuver strips Senate Republicans of the ability to filibuster, thus enabling passage by simple majority vote in the Senate. It would also would allow so-called conservative Democrats in the Senate the room to vote against the measure and still have the required votes for passage. Of the three openings inserted into the House version of the budget resolution, Obama’s attempt to nationalize healthcare is the one Democrats will most likely strong-arm through in this manner, though none of the three are off the table.
If socialized medicine were not an unmitigated disaster in Canada and Europe, Americans still have their own example of the leviathan unchained in “Romneycare.” In 2006, then Republican Governor Mitt Romney, in concert with his Democrat legislature, wrote and passed legislation aimed that not only made sure everyone in the state had medical coverage but also promised expanded medical services at lower costs. But that, like all such medical plans, runs into the logical inevitability of enormous costs: you can’t provide more and still expect to save money.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, “Governor Deval Patrick and his Democratic colleagues are starting to move down the path that government health plans always follow when spending collides with reality — i.e., price controls. As costs continue to rise, the inevitable results are coverage restrictions and waiting periods. It was only a matter of time.
“They’re trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget. The program provides low- or no-cost coverage to about 165,000 residents, or three-fifths of the newly insured, and is budgeted at $880 million for 2010, a 7.3% single-year increase that is likely to be optimistic. The state’s overall costs on health programs have increased by 42% (!) since 2006.”
England’s nationalized healthcare system was created in 1948 and, after 51 years, it has grown into a shop of horrors. In the United Kingdom, two cancer drugs have been for all intents and purposes banned because the government considers them too expensive. Patients with macular degeneration are forced to go blind in one eye before the government will pay to save the remaining eye. Socialized medicine puts into the hands of government the power to decide what treatments you will receive based upon the cost of that treatment, fatality rates and your age. Englanders are mortgaging their homes in an attempt to pay for their healthcare outside of the country, as they are left no other alternative by a bureaucracy that is destroying the quality and availability of healthcare at home.
Just this month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was forced to publicly apologize to families caught up in the “scandal” of “third world” health care quality at the Staffordshire Hospital. In an investigation by England’s Healthcare Commission, at least 400 deaths were ruled as “unexplained” at this one hospital over the past three years, yet there are claims of over 1,200 patients that died there needlessly.
The report also found that the government mandated cost-savings propelled this hospital to institute such cost-saving measures as having receptionists carry out initial checks on patients and improperly trained nurses turning off heart monitors because they did not understand how to use them. Some patients scheduled for surgery had their procedures cancelled for up to four days in a row and were left without food, water or medication.
There are also reports of upwards of 70,000 people fleeing to other countries for medical care each year.
In England as well as Canada, runaway costs have forced their governments to ration healthcare causing years-long wait lists for treatments and denial of services deemed too expensive for the government to pay for — based on survival rates and your age. For Canadians with the money, the safety valve of the American health care system is right across the border, and they flock here by the tens of thousands each year.
I spoke recently with Rep. Wally Herger (R-Cal.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Health subcommittee, about the current fraud and waste in the Medicare and Medicaid programs that exist today. “MedPAC’s March report to Congress illustrates why we must approach health care reform very carefully and thoughtfully,” Herger said. “We don’t need to look any further than the Medicare program to see that the federal government has often shown itself to be incapable of accurately and appropriately administering health care programs. The Chief Counsel at HHS’ Office of Inspector General recently said that ‘a lot of career criminals and organized crime officials have decided that building a Medicare fraud scam is far safer than dealing in crack or dealing in stolen cars, and it’s far more lucrative. …Right now, it’s a good bet that you can take millions from us, and chances are you’re not going to get caught.’ If you want to see the realistic future of health care in America under a government-run program, all you have to do is take a trip down to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and wait in line.”
Where will Americans go when Democrat neo-coms destroy our healthcare system by government bureaucracy? Mexico?
Republicans are putting forth in their alternative budget this week a plan to give millions more working families and small business owners access to affordable healthcare through tax incentives and which would offer free-market solutions for lowering cost, such as the ability to shop across state lines for the best prices on coverage. If the Democrat majority allows the public to actually hear the debate, the outrage should provide the impetus to defeat the Chicago gangland-style attempt to shove this healthcare travesty through Congress.