What Kind Of Health Care System Do You Want, America?


Reforming health care is a signature issue with the current administration, but even the most ardent proponents of Obamacare would be reluctant to call it a success. Notwithstanding the well-publicized problems of the countless billions of dollars spent on this program, precious little has gone into actual patient care. But really, what should we expect from a system designed by soulless bureaucrats such as “bioethicist” Ezekiel Emanuel and Donald Berwick, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services?

Emanuel infamously suggested that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, while Berwick intoned that the federal government must step in between doctors and their patients to curb and redistribute the use of medical resources. To be sure, both of these medico-ghouls are in favor of a single-payer government-controlled system. One wonders if they know who founded government-controlled health care. None other than Adolf Hitler. You could look it up.

Of course, what we do have at the moment is not health care at all. Rather, it is disease care. Inasmuch as there is not enough money in the world to support a disease care system, you would think that the government would be doing all it can to improve public health and encourage prevention. But, you would be wrong. In fact, many preventive programs are having the exact opposite effect.

It was known as early as the mid-1960s that the lipid/cholesterol theory of coronary heart disease was total bunk. Yet, we are still being pummeled with precisely the wrong advice in the advocacy of a low fat/high carb diet. There is no doubt that this course has almost single–handedly caused the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes. And, it has done virtually nothing to lower the incidence of coronary heart disease. Applicable drug sales, however, have skyrocketed. Notably, anti-cholesterol and glycemic control meds have been fraught with serious side effects.

A similar tale can be told of the absurd official recommendations on a low salt diet.

Assuming that all this is not the deliberate result of some star-chamber conspiracy, what went wrong? Chalk it up to egos, massive intertwining bureaucracies, zero accountability, and huge amounts of money. I trust that the ego and monetary components are self-evident.

As to intertwining bureaucracies, consider the effect of USDA grain subsidies on the official dietary recommendations, and the resulting disaster of high carb diets. If the Feds really were concerned with health care, wouldn’t they put some subsidies on fruits and vegetables?

As to zero accountability, consider the hundreds of millions of dollars pharmaceutical companies must spend to get a drug through FDA approval; and then consider how many of these approved drugs are taken off the market only a few years later. Why are there never any consequences for the FDA, but only gigantic lawsuits against Big Pharma? Isn’t the FDA supposed to be the certification agency of all that is safe and effective? Why is it always held harmless? If your own doctor did something a fraction as calamitous, he would be sued for malpractice.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

A Question For The Global Warming Crowd

Al Gore Climateer Crisis Meeting Global Warming SC

Today, in the DC metro area, we will experience a nearly unprecedented 42 degree F temperature drop. This is explained by a large Arctic front moving in.

OK,  here’s my question: If the atmosphere has a supposed “greenhouse” effect, how is this possible in 24 hours?

Yes, yes, I know. Weather is not climate. Except, the Arctic front (weather) is clearly operating contrary to your ridiculous greenhouse concept. And, either your greenhouse theory applies, or it doesn’t.

How can climate be anything BUT the totality of weather?

Please explain. (And don’t bother with a begging-the-question answer such as “The temperature drop would be much greater without the Greenhouse effect.”)

Obamacare: What Happens Once Everyone Is Insured?

Jumping Obamacare Hoops SC

The primary conceit of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is two-fold:  Only with massive government control can we assure that all individuals will obtain health insurance; and having health insurance means that everyone will have access to affordable health care. Quite deliberately, this two-fold conceit has been conflated into the notion that health insurance equals health care. Never mind that such health care may neither be affordable, nor even any good.

Lest we forget, the only cohort that ever had a rooting interest in the ACA were those who were uninsured prior to the passing of the law. Most estimates put that number at around 30 million (although some are as high as 48 million), and it includes people who did not want insurance. Had the Obama brain trust been blessed with a level of talent approximating its arrogance, it would have realized that concentrating on enrolling the uninsured—including those denied by a pre-existing condition—was a far more achievable goal. Indeed, it would have generated wide popular support.

However, consumed with pride and gifted with unlimited money, the brain trust has instead given us an ever-expanding travesty, replete with gigantic security holes and—of all things—the lack of a functional payment back end. Notwithstanding, let us journey to that future time when everyone is finally insured. Now what?

To be a true believer in Obamacare, one must accept the absurd premise that the most urgent and important issue in health care is to get everyone insured. With this a reality in our future fantasy, all is well, right? Wrong. There is far more at play here. Consider but two of the myriad problems yet unsolved.

Despite tens of billions of dollars being spent on implementing electronic health records (EHR), almost nothing has been done to improve their quality. Hundreds of articles have appeared detailing the sometimes deadly flaws in all available EHR systems. Hold onto your hats for this latest wrinkle, courtesy of physician bloggers Michael Chen and Scot Silverstein.

In a particular big name, EHR, the medication list displayed for a patient comes with an interesting feature. It calculates the duration of usage of the medication based on the instructions, quantity of medication prescribed, and the number of refills. Once the duration exceeds the number of days that has elapsed since the prescription was made, the medication is taken off the current list automatically. What could possibly go wrong? Chen continues…

I recently treated a patient that reportedly has asthma. I happened to look at a previous note and find out that the patient was denied a refill request for Albuterol, a bronchodialator that is meant to be taken as needed. She ended up in a life threatening asthma flare up and needed emergent care. After going through two different windows and unclicking a check box, I was able to identify that the patient did in fact have an active prescription for Albuterol, but the EHR made it disappear. She has used it infrequently, probably because her asthma was well controlled. Unfortunately, she ended up in worse shape when she needed the medication the most.

Despite the best intentions of the EHR, the patient did survive.

Then, there’s the continuing saga of Big Pharma transgressions. Heck, a separate piece could be devoted to Johnson & Johnson alone. In recent months, the health care titan…

1.     Agreed to a settlement that could cost it upwards of $4 billion, resolving thousands of lawsuits involving its Articular Surface Replacement device for hip replacement. Internal corporate documents revealed that the company was long aware of the possibility of early failure of the devices.

2.     Agreed to resolve criminal and civil probes into the marketing of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug, and other medicines by paying more than $2.2 billion. Among other things, the drug was improperly marketed to the geriatric market, as well as to adolescent boys. Kickbacks were paid to individual physicians and specialty pharmacies dedicated to nursing homes.

And these are only the two biggest J&J cases. There are numerous other infractions, all of which put patients in danger. At least J&J maintains a good sense of humor, as represented by the company’s general counsel Michael Ullmann, in the wake of the Risperdal settlement:

Today we reached closure on complex legal matters spanning almost a decade. This resolution allows us to move forward and continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions that improve and enhance the health and well-being of patients around the world.

Right. And, it should be noted that none of these catastrophes affected the golden parachute of J&J’s outgoing CEO, who, after all, did reliably “make the numbers,” even if his company had to give much of it back.

But why worry? You can be assured that virtually all of the misdeeds perpetrated by J&J were covered by health insurance.

Obamacare’s Ultimate Pitfall


No, it’s not that millions will lose their insurance. No, it’s not even that your doctor or hospital might not be on your new plan. Rather, it’s the consequences—both intended and unintended—of the breathtakingly stupid forced rush to electronic health records (EHRs), an integral part of the Affordable Care Act.

EHRs have long been touted as some sort of magic bullet that, all by themselves, would revolutionize health care. Imagine! You can replace those outmoded paper records with modern digital ones. Records would be available instantly, and could be shared as needed. Since doctors hate charting, the automated features built into EHR systems would streamline that miserable process, making it more reliable.

Backup systems would assure that records could not be lost or misplaced, and for so many more reasons…patient care would be drastically improved! In fact, one of the principal findings behind Obama’s promise that the average American’s health insurance bill would drop by $2500 per year was that merely by having EHRs in place, there would be a savings to the health care industry of $120 billion annually.

No, I did not make that up. Of course, the study “proving” that contention was financed by Cerner Corporation, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, and Xerox—all major suppliers of EHRs.

Still, why complain? The Feds established a slush fund of more than $20 billion in incentives to those health care providers who could demonstrate so-called “meaningful use” of EHRs. And since virtually all providers are under the gun financially, there was no shortage of eager candidates for the cash awards.

At the time that the incentive program was announced, there were voices mocking the proposed savings, not the least of which referenced the expensive unmitigated failure when such a large rollout was tried in the UK with its National Health Service. And, please remember that the NHS has been, well, nationalized for decades, and should have been a textbook environment for a perfect rollout.

Meanwhile, in our own country, there are more EHR horror stories than can either be adequately followed, or even suppressed. Cost overruns, such as the University of Arizona’s well-publicized spending of more than $100 million on a still very troubled system, abound. In some cases, EHR failings are brought to the attention of hospital administrators, and are not only ignored, but whistle-blowing staff are being threatened.

More serious is that scores of deaths have occurred, based on EHR failings. Link1, Link2, below.

Of course, one of the primary “advantages” of EHRs is that they take decision making out of the hands of the physician. Charted treatment modalities are limited to what’s on the pull-down menu, and I have little doubt that many of the deaths resulted from the inflexibility of the system, not allowing human override.

Just think. Your health care is now in the hands of soulless bureaucrats, computer geeks with no life experience, and rapacious third party payers. What could possibly go wrong?

Photo Credit:  Standard Compliant

No Obamacare Payment System? No Problem!

Photo Credit: Fresh Conservative (Creative Commons)

One of the many huge issues with the infamous healthcare.gov website, that is only now getting the notoriety it deserves, is this: There is currently no mechanism to get payments from the enrollees to the prospective insurance companies.

But, hey…no prob, bro. The insurance companies can simply submit their estimates to the Feds, who will get them the money—all to be settled up later.

Quoting from the article…

Health plans will estimate how much they are owed, and submit that estimate to the government. Once the system is built, the government and insurers can reconcile the payments made with the plan data to “true up” payments, he said.

The fix puts an additional burden on insurance companies, already taxed by having to double-check faulty enrollment data from the HealthCare.gov system.

Now, companies need to quickly put together financial management systems to make the payment estimates, so they can be paid beginning in January.

Absolutely amazing, isn’t it? Obama is so hellbent on launching this disaster that nothing will stop him. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that there may just be a few snags in this workaround. Any bets on which insurance carrier will drop out first?

As they used to say: Your tax dollars at work. And those of a certain age remember when this was not meant to be sarcastic.


Photo Credit: Fresh Conservative (Creative Commons)