ObamaCare and Britain’s NHS Move Forward With Rationing of Health Care

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 26, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

ObamaCare and Britain’s NHS Move Forward With Rationing of Health Care

by David Prentice
July 26, 2010

LifeNews.com Note: Dr. David Prentice is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council. Up to July 2004 he had spent almost 20 years as Professor of Life Sciences, Indiana State University, and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine.

The U.K. is ramping up healthcare rationing under its National Health Service (NHS). According to The Sunday Telegraph, the NHS has drawn up plans for restrictions on the most basic treatments for the sick and injured. Operations including hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery will be rationed in a new attempt to save money.

According to the report, plans also include cuts for terminally ill patients (dying cancer patients will supposedly be sent home and told to manage their own symptoms), closure of nursing homes for the elderly, cost-cutting measures in pediatric and maternity services and care of the elderly.

Doctors have already been told that their patients can have some operations only if they are given “prior approval” by a “primary care trust”, with each authorization made on a “case by case” basis.

Why is this increase in healthcare rationing in the U.K. of concern for the U.S.? Because many of ObamaCare’s nationalized regulations for treatment will be designed by Dr. Donald Berwick. The President used a recess appointment to put Berwick in as Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Berwick is an advocate for government rationing of health care and says “I am romantic about the NHS; I love it.” (pdf of Berwick backgrounder)

But the NHS in Britain is a failure.

A recent study found that under the British nationalized health care system, inequities in the mortality rate between rich and poor have increased, with the inequalities today worse than those during the 1930’s economic depression (prior to the NHS). The British government is apparently moving to a decentralized system of healthcare management (opposite to what ObamaCare is doing), to put power in the hands of patients and clinicians and eliminate layers of bureaucracy.

Redistribution of Health

To pay for ObamaCare, almost a half trillion dollars will be cut from Medicare, including Medicare Advantage. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“The law will spend $938 billion over a decade, mostly to expand coverage to lower-income Americans. To finance that, there will be $455 billion coming from cuts in government payments to health-care providers that serve patients on Medicare and two other federal programs. The hardest hit—to the tune of $136 billion—will be private insurance companies that run Medicare Advantage plans.”

The article notes that ObamaCare presages a redistribution of funds from the old to the young. A redistribution of health, as well as wealth. Not surprisingly, this redistribution is also something that Dr. Berwick has expounded on, noting that:

“…any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, MUST redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is, by definition, redistributional.”

This same redistribution of health, from old to young, is also favored by another member of the ObamaCare team, Cass Sunstein, who has said:

“I urge that the government should indeed focus on life-years rather than lives. A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people.”

Sunstein, the “Regulatory Czar”, will be helping Berwick develop those regulations on who gets healthcare in the U.S.


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