masthead-highres

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fraud Begets Fraud in ObamaCare Land

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a fraud alert - apparently, the passing of ObamaCare has unleashed a torrent of miscreants peddling fake insurance policies. The Associated Press reports:
After Obama signed the law March 23, a proliferation of scams involving bogus health-insurance policies has been reported. Some hustlers are going door-to-door, claiming there's a limited open-enrollment period to buy health insurance now. Not so. Moreover, even after new marketplaces open for business in 2014, door-to-door salespeople are unlikely to be part of the outreach. Scam artists also have set up toll-free lines.
Secretary Sebelius has gall indeed to issue a fraud warning - the entire ObamaCare edifice is itself a fraud, perpetrated on the American people by a duplicitous governing class. Almost nothing that the administration has promised about the health bill is true. To take but a few glaring examples:

The Claim - ObamaCare will reduce the deficit. The President even hailed his bill as "the most significant step" toward deficit reduction in years."

The Truth - Administration officials and Congressional leaders were given cover for this ruse by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated that the bill as written would reduce the deficit by over $100 billion for the first decade.

However, that estimate assumes that cost control provisions, such as the nearly half a trillion in Medicare cuts, will actually materialize - which hardly anyone believes. As former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin writes in the New York Times, the CBO "is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out." Holtz-Eakin concludes that "if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games [from the health care bill] and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion."

The Claim - ObamaCare will "bend the cost curve down," reducing health spending in the United States and saving us money.

The Truth - Oops. Obama's own Medicare actuary Richard Foster warned that ObamaCare would bend the cost curve up, increasing health spending nationally by $222 billion over ten years.

The Claim - ObamaCare will reduce health insurance premiums.

The Truth - By what economic logic does flooding the insurance pool with a new wave of sick individuals who cannot be turned away lower insurance premiums? Fantastical logic, of course. As the Associated Press recently reported, according to their analysis, under the new health care regime: "Beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. That's when premiums for young adults seeking coverage on the individual market would likely climb by 17 percent on average." The effect? "The higher costs will pinch many people in their 20s and early 30s who are struggling to start or advance their careers with the highest unemployment rate in 26 years." You don't say. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation concurs, saying that under ObamaCare, "There's no question premiums are still going to keep going up...it would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today."

In addition to serial and flagrantly false fiscal promises, the very method of ObamaCare's passing - bribery and backroom deals with lobbyists and special interest groups - undermines the administration's moral authority to chastise alleged health insurance hucksters. Politico helpfully lists some of the more flagrant carve outs made during the year-long health care negotiations with key interest groups:
PhRMA, the drug industry's powerful Washington lobbying group, cut a $90 billion deal with the White House and Senate Democrats. The AHA and the hospital industry cut a $155 billion deal with Democrats to help pay for reform. The union AFSCME successfully lobbied the White House to soften the tax on high-end insurance plans.
No wonder Secretary Sebelius is angry at con artists who are selling phony health insurance plans based on false promises - clearly, she feels, that's the job of the Obama administration.

This post was written by Matt Patterson, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Posted by Matt Patterson at 12:02 AM

Friday, April 09, 2010

Our Bart Stupak Story

Bart Stupak: Good riddance to a dangerous Congressman.

Most of you will suppose I'm referencing Bart Stupak's double-cross of the pro-life movement, but that's not the only thing. In the late 1990s, Stupak tried to have this institution charged with a federal crime for publishing materials inconvenient to the left on health care issues.

Up to then, I had naively supposed prosecutors didn't investigate policy disagreements in America.

The issue in question was Section 4507 of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which prohibited Medicare patients from contracting privately with medical doctors unless the doctor opted out of the Medicare system for at least two years, among other requirements.

Here's how Steve Forbes described it in the American Enterprise Institute's magazine (11/1/97):
...buried in the 1,200-page budget bill is a nasty, little-known provision, Section 4507, that begins to write socialized medicine into law. Starting January 1, 1998, American doctors will effectively be prohibited from treating elderly patients on a private basis outside of the Medicare program.

The government health care bureaucracy had already been using its regulatory powers to forbid doctors who accept Medicare patients from also treating senior citizens who choose to pay out of-pocket. Republicans originally tried to insert into the budget agreement a provision that would overturn this regulation, but President Clinton protested and the Republicans caved in.

Since over 90 percent of doctors accept Medicare patients, this law makes it nearly impossible for seniors to find a doctor who will also treat them on a private basis, outside Medicare's rules and regulations. Only doctors in the very wealthiest areas will be available to seniors hoping to engage in private health care between consenting adults. Astonishingly, even Britain, mother of socialized medicine, allows patients to contract privately with physicians. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is leading the charge to repeal Section 4507. He points out that the current law is the equivalent of forbidding everyone enrolled in Social Security from also investing his own money privately with stockbrokers: Such a law "would be met with disbelief and derision," yet it is no different from what the new Medicare law does.
To seniors, especially those not living in big cities, this had the effect of making some medical procedures unavailable to them unless they travelled long distances, as in small towns there might not be a single doctor providing the services they desired who also was willing to forgo treating anyone receiving Medicare for two years.

To conservatives, this provision was a step forward for government control of medicine and a violation of the civil rights of senior citizens.

To liberals, including the Clinton Administration, it was a way to restrict private involvement in health care. They further argued that doctors would overcharge vulnerable seniors for services, and that it would be better for seniors to be denied certain services entirely than to risk being overcharged privately.

Section 4507 received scant public attention when the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 was adopted, but seniors soon began to report difficulties. Simple and inexpensive tests sought by people with diabetes or concern that they might have diabetes, for example, were not in all circumstances covered by Medicare, and now seniors could not get them unless they found a doctor who had entirely opted out of Medicare. Similarly, men over 65 were barred from privately contracting with doctors for screening tests for prostate cancer, although Medicare did not cover these tests for men without symptoms. And there were other examples.

We, along with several other institutions (not all of them conservative), began to call attention to the detrimental impacts of Section 4507 on seniors. One think-tank published a book. Another published numerous papers and held at least one symposium. A seniors group filed suit in federal court on civil rights grounds. And a U.S. Senator (Jon Kyl) and the then-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (Bill Archer) introduced joint legislation to repeal Section 4507.

Our work on this was routine for a think-tank. We published informational materials on it for the public and policymakers (for example, this, posted online at that time), press materials (for example, here) for talk radio hosts and editorial writers, and collected petitions from the public about Section 4507 and sent them to Congress.

Routine work, that is, until we got a phone call from a federal investigator. Rep. Bart Stupak, we were told, had a received a copy of some of our materials and had contacted law enforcement, alleging that the Section 4507 did not do what we claimed it did, and that our claims constituted mail fraud.

To me, this was preposterous, and as I was naive back then, I told the investigator to come over, and I'd share information about the provision with him. I didn't contact legal counsel, as I did not want to waste donors' money on such a ridiculous and (I thought) easily-rebutted allegation.

The investigator came over, and I showed him the book, and the policy papers by other institutions, and information about the Kyl-Archer bill to repeal, and press materials by the seniors group that had filed suit in federal court. The investigator, however, was unmoved. Just because other groups are saying the same thing you are, he said, doesn't make you right. Instead, he said, it is evidence of a conspiracy.

I was taken aback, as one might expect, and the investigator added his coup de grace: the Congressional Research Service says all of you are wrong on this, he said, and what did I have to say to that? He made it clear he considered the CRS the final authority, and believed that publishing anything to the contrary and mailing it would constitute mail fraud. I hadn't read what the CRS said, so I couldn't comment on its position. The investigator left, and faxed me the CRS document soon after, with a cover note that wasn't promising. The CRS document itself, however, was: The CRS agreed with our position entirely.

None of this should have happened, but it didn't end there. Before long, we received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department requiring us to turn over all documents, communications, etc. relating to our work on Section 4507. We complied, and also involved counsel. Our attorney phoned the Justice Department attorney whose name was on the subpoena and pointed out that First Amendment protects our right to publish as we see fit on public policy issues. In fact, he said, the investigator's entire line of questioning as to whether our papers were correct was inappropriate, as people have a constitutional right to publish things the government disagrees with. The Justice Department attorney told him she in fact agreed with him, but that, because of superiors, her hands were tied on the case. So we had to consider ourselves under active investigation.

We didn't hear anything from them for about two years (to the best of my recollection, between the 2000 presidential election and Bush's inauguration), when the DOJ returned all our subpoenaed documents. We never found out anything more about who at DOJ had considered the case worth investigating, but we couldn't help thinking it was someone inclined to discourage conservative groups from working on health care. No charges were ever brought.

So now that Congressman Bart Stupak, whose office thought it was perfectly proper to sic federal law enforcement on a conservative organization simply for publishing perfectly accurate materials inconvenient to the liberal big-government position, has decided to retire, I say good riddance. We don't need any Congressmen, on the left or the right, who believe in criminalizing policy disagreements, and who oppose the people's right to free speech.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:53 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Deneen Borelli Talks Tea Party on Hannity

On Fox News' "Hannity," Project 21 full-time Fellow Deneen Borelli discussed attacks on and allegations against Tea Party activists and newfound flaws in President Obama's recently-adopted health care plan.

This show was broadcast on March 26.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:51 PM

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tea Party Video: Tea Partiers Sing "God Bless America"

As the March 20, 2010 Tea Party at the U.S. Capitol comes to an end, Tea Partiers sing "God Bless America."


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:29 AM

Tea Party Video: Tea Partiers Chant as Obama Arrives at Capitol to Lobby Wavering Democrats


This video was shot from the left side of the East Front of the U.S. Capitol, shot toward the south of the Capitol where the House of Representatives office buildings are located and where Tea Party protesters chanted "Kill the Bill" about an hour following the end of the March 20, 2010 Tea Party Rally. At the time this video was shot, President Obama's motorcade was expected to enter the Capitol grounds momentarily.


Although the President's motorcade entered from the north of the Capitol and avoided the protestors, the sounds of the continuing, if impromptu, Tea Party activities must have reached him loud and clear. The President's motorcade is barely visible on the video as the Capitol Police kept the public far away from the Capitol for over an hour before the President's arrival. This is as close as my son Jonathan and I were allowed to get.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 AM

U.S. Capitol Tea Party Pictures

Photos of the Tea Party Code Red Rally at the U.S. Capitol Saturday, taken by David Almasi:

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Even the Johns oppose it.

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If I worked for the suicidal pharmaceutical industry or was one of its twelve zillion lobbyists, I would take note of apparently spontaneous grassroots signs like this one.

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Seems clear enough.

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Fewer doctors, probably. Even doctors gotta eat.

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Actor Jon Voight talks with an unidentified Tea Partier.

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Bill supporters figure people will forget about all this in a few months.

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Survivors know a few things.

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Some folks really know how to do lettering.

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The red star reminds me of something.

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The process, the results...

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At leftie rallies, the unions preprint the signs. Not so here.

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Christopher Gadsen would appreciate this.

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Nobody's child is safe.

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This photo of David Almasi must have been taken by someone else...


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:12 AM

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pelosi Tries to Clear Capitol; Crowd Isn't Leaving

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Spent much of the day at the Tea Party rally outside the U.S. Capitol and returned home to blog about it, but I think I'm heading back. David Almasi is still there [see addendum below] and he tells me the Tea Partiers spontaneously formed at the East side of the Capitol. The Rules Committee complained about the noise, and Nancy Pelosi ordered the grounds cleared. The crowd refused to leave and the Republican House members have joined the Tea Partiers in solidarity.

I don't see this on the news right now; don't know why, but I think I'm going back there and will blog and post pictures and videos from today later.

Addendum, midnight: First, a correction: Turned out it was Joe Roche who was texting me, not David Almasi. Amusingly, we even talked on the telephone in between texts, but the roars of the crowd were so loud I couldn't tell Joe's voice from David's and Joe couldn't hear me calling him by the wrong name.

Now for the news: When Joe, my daughter Kate, my son Christopher and I met up on the East front of the Capitol more than an hour after I posted this and after night had fallen, the crowd was breaking up in favor of an overnight vigil in front of the Supreme Court and, no doubt for some, their first food and drink since breakfast. Joe confirmed for me that Republican lawmakers had indeed come out to talk to the crowd, and that the events described above did happen. Joe added that he believed a few Democratic legislators who oppose the health care bill had joined the GOP members in speaking to the Tea Partiers, although he didn't have their names.

Among the group of perhaps 1,000 that stayed until nightfall were discussions of returning to the Capitol building again Sunday at 11:00 AM. Tea Partiers were being told by members at that time to expect that the House would begin preparing to vote around 1 PM Sunday, but to expect that the actual vote on the legislation would probably not be until 2 PM.

I've seen only vague references to these later events in just a few news stories. I can only assume most of the media stops working after a certain point on Saturdays.

And now to post some pictures...

Note: The photo in this post was taken by David Almasi.



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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:50 PM

Defending Bill O'Reilly...

and us, and Brian Kilmeade of Fox, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, and I don't know who else.

In the final days before the health care vote, those noted above reported that the New England Journal of Medicine had published/reported on a survey by the Medicus Firm showing, among other things, that passage of ObamaCare could result in a significant decline in the number of doctors willing to practice medicine.

Here's Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points" segment on it:


And here's what Ed Morrissey at Hot Air said, in part:
And you thought wait times were long now. The New England Journal of Medicine, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, polled health-care providers to determine their reaction to ObamaCare, and discovered that it has many doctors looking for the exits. Almost half of all general-practice doctors would feel compelled to leave medicine altogether if it passes...
Here's what Brian Kilmeade said on Fox and Friends:


And here's what we said, in part:
If ObamaCare passes, you may lose your family doctor. Oh, and good luck finding a new one.

That's the stunning conclusion of a new study by the Medicus Firm, as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine. Medicus, a national physician search firm, surveyed 1,195 practicing physicians about the health reform plans pending in Congress. The doctors, representing a wide range of specialties and career levels, were asked to assess the possible impact of ObamaCare on their careers, including "income, job satisfaction, and future career plans."
Following this, according to the Daily Kos and Media Matters, the New England Journal of Medicine came out saying it did not publish the survey at all.

From the Daily Kos, in part:

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Fox breathlessly promoted what it claims to be a new survey from the New England Journal of Medicine showing doctors oppose health care reform, but there's a problem: the non-scientific survey was conducted months ago, was not published in the NEJM, and, according to a spokesperson for the journal, it has "nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine's original research."

From Media Matters, in part:
Right-wing media have seized on a dubious, three-month old email "survey" that purports to show that physicians are concerned about health care reform and that 46 percent of the primary care doctors surveyed "indicated that they would leave medicine - or try to leave medicine - as a result of health reform." Many media figures have falsely attributed this survey to the New England Journal of Medicine. For example, on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "The New England Journal of Medicine has published a report and did a survey, and they said the impact of reform on primary care physicians, 46 percent, they say, feel reform will force them out or make them want to leave medicine."

This is false.

Media Matters for America contacted the New England Journal of Medicine, which confirmed it neither conducted nor published the "survey."

NEJM spokesperson Jennifer Zeis told Media Matters that the study had "nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine's original research." She also made clear that the study "was not published by the New England Journal of Medicine," and said that "we are taking steps to clarify the source of the survey."
Following these reports, we posted a correction, as did Ed Morrissey. I can't watch Fox all day, so I don't know what it did. But I don't want to close the book in this incident without saying something further: We made the correction to be as reliable as possible to those who rely on our materials, so if the New England Journal of Medicine is now claiming it never published the survey, and that it only intended to publish it in an affiliated newsletter, and has altered its website so that the link http://www.nejmjobs.org/rpt/health-reform-may-reduce-physician-workforce.asp no longer goes to a story about the survey, we don't want anyone who quotes us publishing something that a third party could point out is denied by the New England Journal of Medicine, thus discrediting the third party, through no fault of their own. So we made the "correction," and we'll leave it up.

But we also want to make it clear that the New England Journal of Medicine did indeed publish this survey on it website. Judge for yourselves (open in new window to enlarge):

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The NEJM has now changed the page to this, which is how we are now citing it, but we have a message for the New England Journal of Medicine: If you don't want people saying you reported on or published something, don't post it on your website with your logo at the top.

Hat tip: YouTube - PoliticsNewsNews's Channel for the Bill O'Reilly video and Media Matters for the Brian Kilmeade video.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:18 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Investor's Business Daily Cites Us on Constitutionality of Self-Executing Rule

InvestorsBusinessDailyLogoFuzzy.jpgInvestor's Business Daily was kind enough to quote this blog in an editorial.

An excerpt:
Using a parliamentary trick ironically known as the "self-executing rule," Democrats plan on passing their massive health bill without voting. In November, they'll learn just how "self-executing" it was.

Just when you thought Washington couldn't get more corrupt, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week seems intent on trampling representative government itself. Unable to get the votes to pass their U.S. health care revolution, she and her fellow Democratic leaders have figured out a way to pass it without a vote.

The "self-executing rule" has been "used to adopt concurrent resolutions correcting the enrollment of measures or to make other technical changes to legislation," according to the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.

It's "a two-for-one procedure," as the CRS describes it, because the House of Representatives always must pass a rule, written by the House Rules Committee (where Democrats hold a 9-to-4 majority), setting the terms of debate on a particular piece of legislation. In this case, it's been rigged so that if the rule passes, the legislation passes too.

The trick has been used before, as cited by the CRS, on obscure measures like the prohibition of smoking on airline flights in 1989, an employee verification program regarding illegal aliens in 1996, the blocking of the use of statistical sampling for the 2000 census until federal courts could determine its constitutionality, and an IRS overhaul in 1997.

But never on anything approaching such landmark legislation.

Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, is among a number of legal scholars who believe this Slaughter Solution, named after House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., "would stand a very good chance of being tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court."

In the 1998 Clinton v. City of New York ruling on the line-item veto, liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for a 6-to-3 majority, "laid a likely road map for how the court might rule on a challenge to the constitutionality of the Slaughter Solution," according to Ridenour.

Stevens made note of "three procedural steps" that must be taken before a bill becomes law: The "exact text" must be "approved by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives"; the Senate must approve "precisely the same text"; and the same text must be "signed into law by the president. The Constitution explicitly requires that each of those three steps be taken before a bill may become a law."
There's more. You can read the rest here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 PM

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ObamaCare Would Harm Health Care Quality, Survey of Doctors Says

ALT TAGMatt Patterson


National Center for Public Policy Research Policy Analyst Matt Patterson has a new paper out today, "ObamaCare Would Drive Doctors Out of Business."

The paper begins:
If ObamaCare passes, you may lose your family doctor. Oh, and good luck finding a new one.

That's the stunning conclusion of a new study by the Medicus Firm, as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine. Medicus, a national physician search firm, surveyed 1,195 practicing physicians about the health reform plans pending in Congress. The doctors, representing a wide range of specialties and career levels, were asked to assess the possible impact of ObamaCare on their careers, including "income, job satisfaction, and future career plans."

The bottom line of that investigation, titled Physician Survey: Health Reform's Impact on Physician Supply and Quality of Medical Care, is summed up by Medicus managing partner Steve Marsh: "What many people may not realize is that health reform could impact physician supply in such a way that the quality of health care could suffer. The reality is that there may not be enough doctors to provide quality medical care to the millions of newly insured patients."

Why? Put simply, doctors fear that ObamaCare would make the business and practice of medicine more trouble than it's worth. The surveyed physicians foresee...
Read the rest here.

Addendum, 3/18/10 Correction: The Medicus Study was not reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, but by the newsletter "Recruiting Physicians Today," which is published by the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine. Somewhat confusingly, the newsletter sports the logo of the NEJM on its masthead and prospective writers for the publication are told to submit articles to the New England Journal of Medicine, but the publication is, nonetheless, a different one. We apologize for the error.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:14 PM

Video: Project 21's Deneen Borelli on "Hannity"



In case you missed it, here's video of Deneen Borelli's appearance on Hannity yesterday.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:08 PM

Tea Party Video and Pictures from March 16 U.S. Capitol Code Red Rally

National Center for Public Policy Research David Almasi delivers petitions to Rep. Michelle Bachmann at Tea Party Rally at the U.S. Capitol, March 16


National Center Executive Director David Almasi and other National Center staffers loaded up petitions for delivery to Congress at Tuesday's Tea Party Express "Code Red" rally against ObamaCare.

The National Center delivered about 700 pounds of signed petitions (about 30,000) opposing any form of socialized medicine. Some petitions also expressed opposition to President Obama's plan to eliminate the popular Medicare Advantage option from the Medicare program. The petitions were accepted by Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

National Center-affiliated activists were busy outside of Washington, too. Project 21 member Emery McClendon helped organize several tea party rallies in Indiana, including in the state capital of Indianapolis. Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie, who was in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday and Monday speaking to the "Rattle With Us" grassroots organization, attended a tea party in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Here are some photos from the petition delivery and rally:

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The National Center's Stephen Saunders (front) and Matt Patterson carry boxes of petitions from the National Center's Capitol Hill office building to the delivery van


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David Almasi shares signed petitions with Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN)


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Rep. Bachman and David Almasi, who holds a copy of the National Center's book of horror stories from government health care systems (free PDF copy available here)


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The National Center's Caroline May (left) and Devon Carlin distribute copies of Shattered Lives


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Crowd scene


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Crowd scene


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Crowd scene


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 AM

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Medicaid, Medicare Patients Find it Hard to Find Doctors

ALT TAGGovernment health care does not equal access to doctors

This New York Times story by Kevin Sack explains that 47 million Americans are covered by Medicaid (the nation's state-based, federally-supported health insurance program for the poor), but that Medicaid patients are finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors. This is because the government's reimbursement system is so unrealistic, doctors can actually lose money if they treat a patient on Medicaid.

That particular story focuses on Michigan, but here's a similar one from the Times last month, by Kevin Sack and Robert Pear, covering other states.

If adopted, ObamaCare would increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid, making it even harder for Medicaid patients to find doctors than it is now.

Last month, National Center for Public Policy Research Policy Analyst Matt Patterson completed a paper showing that Medicare patients increasingly are facing the same problem. Medicare, of course, is insolvent now, and the baby boomers are starting to retire, so things are likely to get worse before they get better. If they get better.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:39 PM

Louise Slaughter's Denture Sob Story Raises Question

Speaking of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), why she didn't tell her constituent -- the one who allegedly wears her dead sister's dentures -- that Medicaid covers dentures in New York state?

It's possible the constituent makes too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, but if that's true, what's the point of Slaughter's sob story?


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 PM

Project 21's Deneen Borelli on "Hannity" Tonight

Hannity

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli will appear on the "Great American Panel" on the Fox News Channel's "Hannity" program at 9:00 PM eastern on Tuesday, March 16.

Deneen has been interviewed on Fox News Channel, Hot Tea Radio and many other media outlets lately about the health care debate and how it is growing the tea party movement. Today saw several tea party rallies in Washington and across the nation related to the push for a health care vote this week, so it is likely Deneen will be speaking about this important issue tonight.

Check your local listings for Fox News Channel on cable. Fox News is available on channel 118 on Fios, channel 205 on Dish Network and channel 360 on DirecTV.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David W. Almasi at 2:14 PM

On the Slaughter Solution, A Few More Thoughts

Over at the Washington Examiner, Mark Tapscott has blogged about the constitutional issues I raised Sunday with regard to the so-called "Slaughter Solution."

The Slaughter Solution is a proposed rule to allow the House to (ostensibly) pass the Senate's version of ObamaCare by passing a rule saying, in effect, that it had passed without actually voting for it.

Although it is not yet clear if the Democratic leadership will decide to use the Slaughter Rule tactic, the left is pre-emptively defending the measure, claiming the Republicans used "self-executing rules" on numerous occasions when in the majority.

To that, a few thoughts of my own:
1) While the Republicans may have done so, they (insofar as I can determine) limited the use of the tactic to measures insufficiently controversial to inspire anyone to challenge the constitutionality of the tactic in court. According to a 2006 Congressional Research Service report (pdf), for instance, the GOP used the rule for the following purposes:
a) consider a law prohibiting smoking on airline flights under two hours;
b) place a voluntary employment verification program (vis-a-vis immigration status) into an amendment under consideration in the House;
c) incorporate into legislation a ban on the use of statistical sampling in the 2000 Census until a court ruled on its constitutionality;
d) incorporate four bipartisan amendments into an IRS reform bill;
e) drop from an intelligence authorization bill a provision allowing the CIA to offer a particular early retirement program;
f) to adopt a manager's amendment, H.Res. 75, to an immigration bill in 2005.
Do these strike anyone as roughly equivalent to the significance of the ObamaCare vote?

2) So what if the Republicans did it? Does that make it right? Or constitutional? The GOP leadership also broke the House rules by holding a three-hour roll-call vote on its prescription drug bill back in 2003 (which conservatives screamed about at the time; see here for example). Does that mean conservatives and others who believe in free markets (or free choice in health care) have to sit by let the Democrats break that rule in the same fashion, too? When do we start playing by the rules?

3) If I were a Democratic politician interested in future electoral success, even if I supported ObamaCare, I would be very wary of voting for it this way. What if the legislation passes via a Slaughter Solution tactic, and the federal courts rule the tactic unconstitutional? ObamaCare would be tossed out, making supportive politicians look both impotent and vaguely corrupt, and on a judicial timetable, which could be right before an election. If I were in that situation, I'd think it better to hold an up-or-down vote and live with the consequences.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 AM

Monday, March 15, 2010

National Center's David Almasi to Speak at U.S. Capitol Tea Party Rally, Will Deliver Tens of Thousands of Petitions Against Socialized Health Care

health care petitionsDavid Almasi with a box of the petitions

National Center Executive Director David Almasi will speak at the Tea Party Express "Code Red" rally against Obamacare on Tuesday, March 16. The rally will be on the U.S. Capitol grounds at Taft Park (on the Senate side) at 10:00 AM. David is scheduled to speak at 10:35 AM.

David also will present Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN) with tens of thousands of petitions collected by the National Center for Public Policy Research. The petitions oppose socialized medicine and President Obama's plan to eliminate the popular Medicare Advantage option for Medicare recipients.

Here are two (unsigned) samples of the tens of thousands of petitions David will present on Tuesday (open in a new window to enlarge):

StopSocializedMedicinePetition0310.jpg

MedicareProtestPetition0310.jpg


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:44 PM

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slaughter Solution Unconstitutional

John_Paul_Stevens,_SCOTUS_photo_portrait.jpgJustice Stevens' majority opinion in Clinton v. New York signals the Supreme Court's likely view of the Slaughter Solution

Frustrated by their inability to get President Obama's health care plan through Congress, the House leadership is now considering a mad new scheme, dubbed the "Slaughter Solution," to get the Senate version of the bill through a reluctant House.

As described by Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, the Slaughter Solution would "pass [the] legislation by 'deeming' it approved under a House rule instead of following the process required by the U.S. Constitution in which they actually vote on the proposal itself... Slaughter's approach would bring to the House floor a reconcilliation bill to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of health care reform with the rule deeming the House to have approved the Senate version."

Mark goes on to say a senior House of Representatives GOP staffer has told him the Republicans can find no evidence such a ploy has ever been tried before in the history of the House.

In my view, there's a good reason why not: the legislation would stand a very good chance of being tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A dozen years ago, in a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the line item veto unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998).

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens laid a likely roadmap for how the Court might rule on a challenge to the constitutionality of the Slaughter Solution:
...our decision rests on the narrow ground that the procedures authorized by the Line Item Veto Act are not authorized by the Constitution. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 is a 500-page document that became 'Public Law 105--33' after three procedural steps were taken: (1) a bill containing its exact text was approved by a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives; (2) the Senate approved precisely the same text; and (3) that text was signed into law by the President. The Constitution explicitly requires that each of those three steps be taken before a bill may 'become a law.' Art. I, §7. If one paragraph of that text had been omitted at any one of those three stages, Public Law 105--33 would not have been validly enacted. [Emphasis added] If the Line Item Veto Act were valid, it would authorize the President to create a different law - one whose text was not voted on by either House of Congress or presented to the President for signature. Something that might be known as 'Public Law 105--33 as modified by the President' may or may not be desirable, but it is surely not a document that may 'become a law' pursuant to the procedures designed by the Framers of Article I, §7, of the Constitution.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Court in the line item veto case, one cannot deny that the majority decision here is a powerful sign that the Slaughter Solution would not be ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:40 PM

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Project 21's Robin Martin on Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Campaign


On a recent edition of the PBS Show "To the Contrary," Project 21's Robin Martin discussed Michelle Obama's health food and anti-obesity campaigns.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:15 PM

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obamacare = Socialism

Obamacare, says National Center policy analyst Matt Patterson, is socialism by any other name.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:45 PM

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Union Deal Latest ObamaCare Outrage

BlogQuestion011910.pngQuestion: In what kind of country are laws applied differently for politically favored constituents?

If you said "constitutional republic" you are half right; just replace "constitutional" with "banana" and you have a fairly accurate description of what Barack Obama's America is shaping up to be.

Consider the "deal" struck between The White House and union leaders on Thursday. According to the Washington Post:
The agreement, forged in a marathon negotiating session that included White House officials and seven prominent labor leaders...
And not, it might be added, captured for posterity by C-SPAN cameras, in spite of the President's oft repeated, oft mocked promise that he would allow Brian Lamb's crew in to broadcast health care negotiations. The Post reports that the agreement:
...would exempt union members from a proposed surtax on expensive insurance plans until 2018, five years after the legislation would take effect.
And what surtax would union members be "exempt" from, exactly? The 40 percent surtax on high-end, or "Cadillac" insurance plans which the Senate, and the President, seem to think necessary to finance their heath care overhaul legislation.

The problem is that many unions have negotiated such sweet insurance plans for their members in collective bargaining; by some estimates, as many as one in four union households are "Cadillac" insurance owners. Those households, if the deal holds, would now be exempt from a tax to be levied on other holders of the same kinds of policies (the vast majority of such policy holders make under $250,000 a year) until 2018, "giving labor leaders time to negotiate new contracts."

Well, how nice for them. And how unlucky for the average, non-union, middle or blue class worker who has accepted such insurance in lieu of higher wages, who is not considered a valuable member of the Obama coalition. Put simply; unions are now promised exemption from an onerous new tax by the Democratic president whom they spent tens of million to help elect.

This is only the latest in a long line of deals made behind closed doors to keep the health care train moving along, deals which have promised exemption for one group or state from fiscal and legal burdens to be born by others. This is basket-case democracy, a troubling sign that power is consolidating in Washington in the manner usually seen in only nominally free, or nakedly unfree, states.

When a nation no longer applies its laws equally, it ceases to be a nation of laws and becomes a nation of men, where faction is pitted against faction, citizen against citizen, and the whims of a few govern the lives of the multitude.

In other words, exactly what our Founders were trying to avoid when they established this great republic.

Written by Matt Patterson, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.


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Posted by Matt Patterson at 12:02 AM

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two Out of Two Majority Leaders Agree: The Public Can Shove Off

While taking a look, for remembrance sake, at some of the calls this organization made for then-Majority Leader Trent Lott to resign during the Strom Thurmond controversy, I ran into an old blog post that highlights another way (besides putting his foot in his mouth) that Lott, in his day, was like Majority Leader Harry Reid today.

Referring to people outside the Senate who had opinions on a then-pending Supreme Court confirmation, the Washington Post reported the following in 2005:
Lott cautioned that outside groups have a limited ability to influence senators of either party. 'I'll call them when I need to hear from them,' he said. 'As far as I'm concerned, they can all shove off, left and right.'
Doesn't that sound like something Senator Reid could say on health care legislation? And, most likely, is what he really thinks?


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:19 PM

Sunday, January 03, 2010

British Government Health System Leaves Boy Legless

Take a look at the pictures of the nine-year-old boy in the story "Meningitis robbed Edward Bright of his legs... then NHS took away his new ones" from Britain's The Sun newspaper, and tell me again that Congress is on the right path when it insists on increasing the government's role in health care.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:58 PM

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Everyone Must Buy a Chevy Malibu

I heard a very good point from radio host Sean Casey on WCBN radio (Baltimore) today on the question of the constitutionality of the health care insurance mandate.

He asked (paraphrase), "would it be constitutional if the federal government said we all had to buy a new Chevy Malibu every year?"

I think that's the fastest explanation of the idiocy of the individual mandate I have heard yet.

One can, after all, build a solid case for mandating frequent purchases of Chevy Malibus: the taxpayers are invested in General Motors and would like their money back; new engines burn cleaner than old engines so it would be (on one level) good for the environment; people in Michigan and elsewhere need jobs and car manufacturing and selling creates them; old Chevy Malibus could be given to the poor, etc.

There are many good reasons to mandate annual purchases of Chevy Malibus, but that wouldn't make a federal requirement that we must do so constitutional, and an individual mandate that we must buy health insurance isn't constitutional, either.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:25 PM

Friday, December 04, 2009

Centenarian Told to Wait 18 Months to Get Hearing Aid

ShatteredLivesCover100w.jpgThe British government's health care system put 108-year-old Olive Beal on an 18-month government waiting list for a new hearing aid.

Longevity apparently does not count for much in Britain's government-managed National Health Service.

Much of 108-year-old Olive Beal's hearing was gone. The one-time suffragette and former piano teacher from Kent, England was unable to enjoy music or hear conversations clearly with her five-year-old analog hearing aid. A modern digital device would improve Beal's hearing - and life - tremendously, but she was having difficulty receiving a replacement.

Beal's granddaughter, Maria Scott, explained: "Her analog hearing aid does not filter out background noise so it makes it very difficult for her to hear clearly. But the digital one would allow her to hear people talking to her and to CDs. She loves music hall numbers."

Beal was administered a hearing test in late July 2007, and a hearing expert recommended a digital hearing device. However, the local health authority, Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust, has an 18-month waiting list for new hearing aids provided through the NHS. Despite her age and despite contributing income taxes that fund the government's universal health system into her late 60s, Beal was told she must wait her turn in line. A spokesman for the Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust explained: "[P]riority is given to patients who do not have an existing hearing aid..."

Under the government system, Beal would be 110 years old by the time the new hearing aid was scheduled to arrive.

Beal expressed her fear: "I could be dead by then."

Maria Scott added, "I would have thought they would take her age into account as she probably has not got 18 months to wait... Her eyesight is falling [sic], and if she cannot hear then she will be isolated from the outside world."

Fortunately, widespread press attention and concern about Beal's situation prompted Phillip Ball, a private audiologist, to assist Beal voluntarily. Ball said:

"I can see no reason why a lady of her age should be fobbed off by her NHS Trust and told to wait at least 18 months, so I immediately got on the phone to offer my services. I visited Olive this week and she should have a fully functioning digital aid in a matter of days [early August 2007]. She will now be able to hear a great deal better."

A digital hearing device costs approximately 1,000 British pounds (~$1,600) each, and wait times for hearing aids can be over two years in some parts of Britain.

"The new digital hearing aids can really transform people's lives," said Donna Tipping of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, a British charity. "It is an issue of quality of life, with isolation, frustration and withdrawing from society caused by loss of hearing, and it is sad because this is reversible."

As her grandmother is one of Britain's oldest living citizens, Maria Scott added, "I thought a 108-year-old deserved to be treated better than this."

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:00 AM

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Public Option in Health Care Doesn't Mean Low Overhead

One of the arguments proponents of the so-called "public option" in health care reform often make is that health insurance company executives make too much money.

I wonder how many of these people realize that almost 60 administrators in the British government's National Health Service are paid more than the British prime minister?

The prime minister earns 194,000 British pounds (presently equivalent to $322,816 U.S.) a year.

An additional 290 NHS administrators earn more than 150,000 pounds (present U.S. equivalent = $249,600) annually.

But these public sector employees, being public servants, are more dedicated to their jobs than the average money-grubbing private health sector employee, right?

Maybe not. Seems NHS employees call in sick at one-and-a-half times the rate of private sector employees in Britain.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:50 PM

Engineer Left Blind for Three Years Awaiting 20-Minute Operation

ShatteredLivesCover100w.jpg85-year-old Richard Adams went blind because the British government's health care system delayed his cataract surgery. Said Adams, "I've been waiting for three years but they don't seem to care. I think they're just waiting for me to die or something."

According to Britain's state-managed health service, cataract surgery is a "common" and "straightforward" operation that usually should last between 15 and 20 minutes. But such a quick turnaround would have been news to Richard Adams of London, who went blind in both eyes while waiting three years for cataract surgery.

The 85-year-old retired engineer and award-winning dancer began losing his vision in 2004. That year, doctors diagnosed Adams with cataracts, but an operation to remove them was not scheduled until March 2007.

His excitement in 2007 at the prospect of getting his sight and livelihood back was short-lived because doctors cancelled the surgery.

"I was over the moon when I found out I had an appointment in March [2007] but when it was cancelled I just went downhill," Adams said at the time.

Stuck in a wheelchair and suffering from asthma as well as kidney stones (also left untreated by the NHS, he said), Adams had difficulty performing everyday tasks. "I never cook anything," Adams explained then. "It always has to be cold things like sandwiches or salad. I can't go to the shops because I can't see where I'm going."

In despair, Adams said his life was "being wasted": "I have all these ideas in my head but I can't see to write and I can't see to draw. All I can do is sit in my house and listen to the TV. I can't see it and I have to turn up the volume because I can't hear well."

Spokesman Mark Purcell of Ealing Hospital, one of several hospitals that refused Adams treatment for his eyes, offered no sympathy. "If [Adams] has a complaint about the standard of care he has received he should write to the chief executive of the Ealing Hospital Trust." (Whether this bureaucratic solution, which asked a blind man to write, was intentionally or inadvertently cruel is unknown.)

Adams was scheduled to receive treatment in late May, but this was little consolation for him. "I've been waiting for three years but they don't seem to care. I think they're just waiting for me to die or something," Adams complained.

Finally, after Adams' plight received attention from the British press, doctors removed the cataracts in one of his eyes in June 2007.

"He was really pleased with the result of the operation," said Roger Woolsey, a family friend. "When I went to visit him he would raise the eye-patch and say: I really can see again."

Tragically, four days after the procedure that restored his sight, Adams died. He had a heart attack after developing blood poisoning in the hospital.

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:49 AM

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"An Animal Would Have Been Treated with More Compassion"

ShatteredLivesCover100w.jpgDebra Luck, the widow of Ian Luck, believes the medical staff at the British government's Princess Alexandra Hospital was so neglectful of her late husband's care during his last days that he effectively "was murdered... because people couldn't be bothered to do their job properly."

Ian Luck spent the last weeks of his life in agony because of lack of care at the government-run Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex, UK, where he died in 2002.

For over five years, Luck's widow, Debra, and nine-year-old son, Ben, fought for answers as to why hospital staff neglected Luck, frequently leaving him to lay in his own vomit and waste and failing to realize the severity of his increasingly-desperate state.

Luck checked in to the Princess Alexandra on June 12, 2002 after being too weak to eat and vomiting heavily. He had suffered for several years from gastric problems, and was treated twice in 2002 for lost fluids because of vomiting and diarrhea. This time, an endoscope discovered an ulcer. Doctors prescribed antibiotics to Luck, gave him fluids and sent him home after a six-day stay.

On June 20, Luck returned to the hospital for a second endoscope exam when the inflammation in his stomach had not cleared up. However, the ulcer ruptured during the procedure, and emergency surgery had to be performed to repair it.

Following surgery, Debra Luck was effectively left to look after his health and comfort.

"No one wanted to help us. Every time we asked for pain relief, or to see a doctor, we were told to wait, or that we didn't know what we were talking about," she said.

Luck's condition continued to decline, but hospital staff showed an utter lack of sympathy. Debra Luck recalled that the staff failed to or were slow to perform basic functions, such as cleaning up after her husband.

"He was vomiting ten times an hour, and there were bowls around his bed to catch it," she said. However, "Often they weren't emptied for more than an hour and they smelled awful. The first time that happened I found a nurse and asked if she could empty them. When she said she was too busy, I offered to do it myself."

Debra Luck began resorting to bringing in clean pillowcases, shirts and pants, and having to change her husband herself. "As fast as I changed him he was sick again. The nurses were not interested in helping me," she said. "An animal would have been treated with more compassion."

Meanwhile, it was not known if the bleeding from the ulcer had stopped. "I made two appointments to speak to a consultant during the course of those ten days," she said, "and both times he didn't turn up. When I tried to talk to junior doctors they were either too busy or didn't know enough."

Frustrated and fearing for her husband's life, Debra Luck attempted to have Ian transferred to a local private hospital. Though the private hospital agreed, staff at the Princess Alexandra rejected the move because Luck was not stable.

On June 28, at the request of a junior doctor, a consultant at last saw Luck. But the consultant failed to follow up on the suggestion that a laparotomy (surgical examination), which might have determined the definitive cause of Luck's bleeding, be carried out. On June 29, a second junior doctor called for a consultant's review, which was never performed.

Two days later, after a particularly agonizing night in which nurses forgot to inject painkillers, Luck began to lapse in and out of consciousness and struggle to breathe. That morning, "He was covered in vomit and had wet himself," remembered Debra. "I changed him, but when I asked for clean surgical stockings the nurse said there were none left in his size... I couldn't change his T-shirt without help... but I was told by the nurse she was too busy and to leave him dirty."

That evening, a junior doctor suspected that Luck had suffered a collapsed lung and ordered a chest X-ray. But Luck went into cardiac arrest during the procedure and had to be resuscitated. By the time family members arrived, Luck already suffered a second, fatal cardiac arrest.

"I actually feel that Ian was murdered," Debra said. "He died because people couldn't be bothered to do their job properly."

Debra Luck contends that the hospital did not carry out necessary tests. "What I've learned since is that his urine and vomit should have been monitored continuously. Both were vital to working out just how ill he was and whether he would need further investigations. The fact that no one kept a record probably added to his lack of correct treatment."

In October 2007, the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust agreed to compensate Debra and Ben a combined sum of £225,000 (~$366,000), though the National Health Service refused to accept liability for Luck's death.

For her part, Debra Luck remains angry, telling Britain's Daily Mail, "No one has been punished or sacked. No one from the hospital has offered to meet me and tell me how things went so wrong, let alone offered an apology. For all I know, the same appalling standard of care is still acceptable in that hospital. If that is the case, then there will be more unnecessary deaths."

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 PM

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Britain Investigates Deaths in Government Hospitals

From the Times in Britain, November 28:
An immediate investigation to uncover the true extent of death rates across the [British government's National Health Service] has been ordered by the Health Secretary after scandals at two hospital trusts.

Amid claims that patients are dying due to poor care in at least 27 hospitals around the country, Andy Burnham said that patient safety was paramount and must take precedence above all else.

His comments come after the head of a foundation trust in Colchester, Essex, was sacked over concerns about high death rates, leadership and waiting times.

Failings in patient care had previously been linked to the deaths of between 70 and 400 patients at Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust, also in Essex...
Read the rest here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:49 AM

Monday, November 30, 2009

Canadian Cancer Patient Fights Bureaucracy in Desperate Fight for Life

ShatteredLivesCover100w.jpgTo fight advanced colon cancer, Canadian Suzanne Aucoin needed Erbitux, a powerful anti-cancer drug, but the Canadian health bureaucracy said it wouldn't pay. Aucoin traveled to New York to get the drug and to begin treatment on her own. "I am completely disgusted with our health-care system," Aucoin said.

Suzanne Aucoin of St. Catharines, Ontario never imagined that dealing with the Canadian health care bureaucracy would be as tough as battling terminal cancer.

Aucoin had to go to the U.S. for treatment initially denied to her. While ill, she then engaged in a prolonged and complicated fight to get access to a life-extending anti-cancer drug and to recover the exorbitant amount she was forced to spend out of her own pocket on treatment.

In 1999, Aucoin was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Surgeons removed large portions of her intestine and colon. But about four and a half years later, Aucoin became easily fatigued and felt pain in her side. A follow-up visit with her doctors revealed that the cancer had reappeared and spread to her lungs and liver.

In January 2004, Aucoin began chemotherapy treatment for stage IV colon cancer, the most advanced stage. A CT scan showed that chemotherapy had been ineffective at destroying the tumor in her liver. Aucoin's oncologist recommended that weekly doses of the powerful anti-cancer drug, Erbitux, offered her the best hope for staying alive. The problem was the drug - which can shrink tumors in advanced cancer patients - was not publicly-provided or even available for purchase in Ontario.

Worse yet, Ministry of Health officials denied Aucoin's application for out-of-country funding to permit Aucoin to get the potentially life-extending drug in the U.S. However, Aucoin claimed, the government was paying for three other patients with a similar form of cancer to receive treatment abroad. Reviews are on a case-by-case basis, but the health ministry did confirm it paid for some patients to receive Erbitux in the U.S.

"I just find it ridiculous that I have to go to these lengths when the government is glaringly wrong. They have all these inconsistencies, and I'm the one who suffers because of it," Aucoin said.

Despite the government's refusal to fund her treatment, Aucoin began receiving weekly treatments of Erbitux at a cost of $14,000 (USD) a month at a clinic in West Seneca, NY. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Erbitux in February 2004. Thankfully, friends and supporters raised more than $180,000 (CAD) over several years to help pay for her treatment.

"You can't wait with this cancer," she said. "You can't wait for people to make decisions about your health. You can't wait for forms to be filled out. You have to go where the drug is."

In fall 2005, Health Canada - the Canadian agency responsible for evaluating drugs - approved Erbitux. But health officials refused to cover Erbitux and limited the number of patients who could have access.

Fortunately, a loophole existed. In December 2005, Aucoin was the first patient allowed Erbitux under a Special Access Program set up for seriously ill patients. She would have to pay over $6,000 (CAD) a month for treatment, which she received at a Hamilton, Ontario clinic, while the government paid the administrative costs.

"I just want to take care of myself," Aucoin said. "My job is to get well and I feel like my government's letting me down because they're not doing their job."

Following another appeal for out-of-country funding several months later, the government changed its mind and, without explanation, agreed to cover Aucoin's treatment. The decision meant Aucoin would no longer pay out-of-pocket, but she would again need to travel across the border. Oddly, the government directed her to a Buffalo, NY cancer hospital that charged thousands of dollars more for Erbitux than the West Seneca clinic Aucoin used for out-of-pocket treatment. She began treatment at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in April 2006.

Then the Ontario government stonewalled Aucoin's attempt to be reimbursed. In June 2006, health officials denied her application for reimbursement saying the government would "only approve [reimbursement] if it's in a certain setting, i.e., a hospital," not a private clinic. Moreover, Aucoin was not granted funding approval before she went abroad for treatment.

"I am completely disgusted with our health care system," Aucoin said. "I am very discouraged and frustrated by the lack of professionalism, the lack of consistency and the lack of care for me as an individual patient." She added, "I'm not asking for Botox, I'm asking for life-saving treatment."

After losing on appeal and running out of options, Aucoin appealed to Ontario's ombudsman, Andre Martin. Following his investigation, in January 2007 Ontario's health officials finally agreed to pay over $76,000 (CAD) for Aucoin's out-of-country care and for legal expenses. The ombudsman blasted health officials for their "cruel" treatment and "slavish adherence to rules at the expense of common sense."

"I should never have had to deal with this, it takes all my energy to fight cancer," Aucoin said. "It rights a wrong on some levels but you cannot put a price tag on my mental strain and stress."

Tragically, Aucoin lost her fight against cancer. She passed away in November 2007.

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 PM

Friday, November 20, 2009

Health Care Monsters

"Pelosi and Reid's health care monsters" is the theme of an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun today by National Center Policy Analyst Matt Patterson.

Matt examines the scary goblins in the liberal health care proposals; namely, the Medicare cuts, the economic harm, and the loss of freedom we can expect if the left's proposals win the day.

You can read Matt's piece here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:48 AM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quote of Note: The Core Problem With Government-Run Health Care

"The core problem with government-run health care is that it doesn't make decisions in the best interests of patients, but in the best interests of government."

- Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Health Care Rationing Commission," November 15, 2009


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:50 AM

A Positive Story, For Once

I am often critical of the quality of care offered by government-run health care systems, but the emergency medical care received by this very stoic British truck driver after he was impaled by an eight-foot pole seems almost miraculous.

You have to see the picture. A description wouldn't do it justice.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Monday, November 16, 2009

Report Questions Quality of Care Dementia Patients Receive in British Government Hospitals

A British government report is questioning the quality of care dementia patients receive in hospitals run by the British government-run health system.

Among other things, the report says such patients often are not properly fed.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:52 PM

Canadian Patient Flies to India for Immediate Care

An ailing hip caused Canadian Raghav Shetty so much pain that he could barely walk. Instead of being one of 25,000 patients in Calgary waiting up to two years for surgery or a scan, Shetty traveled to India, his native country, for immediate partial hip replacement surgery.

An ailing hip caused Canadian Raghav Shetty so much pain that he could barely walk. Instead of being one of 25,000 patients in Calgary waiting for surgery or a scan (up to a two-year wait), Shetty traveled to India, his native country, for immediate partial hip replacement surgery.

Flying to a faraway country for medical care did not seem too outrageous an idea for Canadian Raghav Shetty - at least, in comparison to the alternative. The 61-year-old Calgary, Alberta man's bum hip had effectively immobilized him. Yet he faced several years of waiting in distress for surgery in Canada's "universal" Medicare health system.

Shetty had developed severe osteoarthritis in his left hip joint. He was in so much pain that, even with the aid of painkillers, each step was tormenting.

"I'm in extreme pain," he admitted. "I'm stuck at home, I can't work. It is difficult for me to provide financial support to my family and the quality of my life is very bad."

"He can barely walk. He drags his legs everywhere he goes," added daughter, Shilpa Shetty.

Shetty, a 20-year resident of Calgary, discovered the wait for partial hip replacement surgery would be up to two years. At the time, in 2004, some 25,000 patients were on waiting lists for surgery or diagnostic scans in Calgary's hospitals.

Facing a bedridden wait on Medicare, Shetty and his wife, Prema, looked elsewhere for quicker treatment. They discovered a private facility in Chennai, India offering immediate care. The entire out-of-pocket cost for the operation and for both to fly to India would be $15,000 (CAD), but the couple believed waiting up to two years for care locally was not a realistic option.

"I had no choice but to try elsewhere for my surgery due to the long waiting period and severe pain in my hip joint," Shetty said. "I could not walk more than a few meters. Under these conditions, waiting for one to two years was simply not possible for me."

In September 2004, the Shettys traveled to Apollo Specialty Hospital for a successful five-hour surgery. Shetty, an Indian immigrant, said returning to his native country for a medical procedure was not something he would have considered had it not been for the excessive wait.

"Of course, my first choice would have been always Canada," he said. "However, in recent years, the waiting period for major surgeries is too long for patients suffering from severe pain and serious medical conditions."

Daughter Shilpa objected to the tedious wait her father would have endured if he stayed in Canada. "We've given up on our health care system. Why don't they understand that some people are in so much pain that they just can't wait?" she asked. "We don't have any options and can't wait anymore."

Though the long wait forced Shetty to look outside Canada, the health department in the province of Alberta rejected his claim for reimbursement for his care in India. Generally, the government reimburses only such patients who go abroad when treatment is unavailable locally or if the patient's life would be in jeopardy while waiting.

As published in a 2007 Fraser Institute survey, an estimated 5,029 people in Alberta were waiting for hip or knee replacement surgery as of March 31, 2007. According to the same report, nationwide some "estimated 523,600 Canadians had difficulties getting to see a specialist, 200,000 had difficulties getting non-emergency surgeries, and 294,800 had difficulties getting selected diagnostic tests."

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:01 PM

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