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American Health Care Mess

Pundits like Mona Charen are not writing on behalf of their readers or their country. Their dissertations are guided by partisan ideology, whether or not the positions they champion are beneficial to their audience. In this, they are no different than politicians.

Mona Charen

A good example is what right-wing, syndicated columnist Charen wrote the other day about Republican attempts to do away with Obamacare. “America’s political leadership – on both sides – seems less interested in devising an escape from our progressively more European health care mess and more concerned with laying blame for it on the other party. The goal of replacing a top-down, bureaucratically controlled health-delivery system … with a more market-oriented system recedes …

“What ought to be a serious debate about reform has become instead an exercise in trimming around the edges. Both (House and Senate) bills keep the architecture of Obamacare. The trims are the Medicaid cuts. But let’s be clear: Because of Republican primary voters’ choices, we’re now heading straight for the rationing of care, just like Europe.”

Despite her “let’s be clear” admonition, it’s anything but clear what she means by “primary voters’ choices.” In the 2016 elections, Democrats won only a net six seats in the House, putting the total at 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats. That’s a sizable GOP majority. Maybe stronger Republican action toward replacing Obamacare has been lacking because representatives are bowing to the wishes of their constituents, most of whom favor Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act.

In referring to the “European health care mess” and “rationing of care, just like Europe,” Charen is either ignorant or purely partisan, because both remarks are false. Studies and statistics show that European health care systems are superior to ours, and that rationing of care is more prevalent here than there.

In a November 2014 article headlined “European Countries Don’t Ration Healthcare, but We Do,” a website called Healthline News reported: “The United States has come dead last among developed countries since a nonprofit began ranking healthcare systems in 2004 … It’s no news to most Americans that our healthcare system has big problems. The cost of healthcare in the United States dwarfs the cost in other countries, and we don’t get better results …

Karen Davis, Ph.D.

“When it comes to healthcare, Americans could hardly do worse, according to data from the Institute of Medicine and the Commonwealth Fund, which has been comparing the U.S. healthcare system to those of 10 other developed countries since 2004. The U.S. population has worse health and more premature deaths at all ages and at all income levels than any of the other 10 countries. The United States has higher rates of preventable deaths and infant mortality, too.”

During the battle over passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Healthline article by Cameron Scott said, “a significant number of political ads (spread) the familiar message that European-style universal healthcare is much worse than what we have.”

Cameron Scott

That message was false, Karen Davis, Ph.D., said. She is a health economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and former Commonwealth Fund president. Healthline’s Scott quoted her as writing in the New England Journal of Medicine: “‘Notwithstanding Americans’ impression that other countries ration care, for lower-income adults, obtaining timely primary care is a bigger problem in the United States than in other industrialized countries.’”

Davis found, Scott said, that “The American poor fare worst. About one-third report foregoing (sic) medical care because they can’t afford it, and healthcare bills are the largest single cause of personal bankruptcy. Americans are more likely than people in any other developed country to go to emergency rooms to get care they could get from a regular, much cheaper, doctor’s appointment. Poor Americans reported longer wait times at the emergency room than their European counterparts as well. Still, the public seems terrified of so-called ‘rationed care.’ They fear months-long wait times for needed care in countries with nationalized health systems. However, it turns that the panic rests on faulty facts.”

In the 2 ½ years since the article was written, Obamacare has to a large extent alleviated that emergency room crush because of the AFA’s requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.

As for waiting for a doctor’s appointment, Scott said the Commonwealth Fund report showed that “lower-income Americans were more likely to report waiting six days or more for an appointment than poor Europeans. It was also significantly harder for them to get needed care in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Americans who work for wages have to take time off to see doctors during business hours. Fewer U.S. medical practices than in any other developed country — just 40 percent — have a plan in place for how to treat patients outside of standard business hours.”

No, Ms. Charen, European health care is not a “mess,” particularly when compared to American health care, and the U.S.’s direction toward the European systems of universal health care can only be good. Those systems, which omit the profit-motivated insurance companies, provide better care at far lower costs.

In your skewed ideological vision, Madam, you see only that government is evil and private enterprise is good. You ignore the obvious truths that Medicare and Social Security work quite well for the American people, and declare that expansion of Medicare to all, which is what the European health care systems are all about, would be harmful. Somehow, you’re not very convincing. Nor are you honest.

#healthcare #CommonwealthFund #EuropeanhealthcareKarenDavisPhD #AffordableCareAct #MondaCharen #CameronScott #HealthlineNews #Obamacare

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