Government health care

Articles of Interest

Kansas budget, expensive college, Kansas education funding, alternatives to ObamaCare. Budgeting outside the box Reporting by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy covers last week's meeting of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. (Although the Kansas Legislature is in session from January to May, there are many "interim" committee meetings during the summer and fall.) School funding is always a topic, and as usual, spending advocates focus on the small portion of spending that makes their case: "Committee members challenged school districts on focusing only on reductions in state base aid per pupil and ignoring all other funding sources which,…
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Uninsured count needs explanation

One of the problems in the health care debate today is lack of facts -- at least facts that all sides of the debate can agree on. Without such agreement, without a basic set of facts and data to reason from, we're not likely to make any progress. One example of a fact often used as evidence is the high number of uninsured in America. Often the number cited is 45.7 million, which is a substantial fraction of our population. The source of this number is the United States Census Bureau report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the…
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Swiss system could be best of the big-government reform alternatives

At a recent forum on health care in Wichita, the system of health care in Switzerland was mentioned as a system that we could learn from. Dr. Brian Michael, a physician at the Wichita Clinic, specializing in endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and thyroid disease, outlined the basic characteristics of the Swiss system. Switzerland has no government health care and no employer-funded health care. Each person must purchase commercial insurance, and each person owns their own policies. (Michael also said that policies must be in effect for five years before changing carriers, but I have not been able to verify this feature.)…
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Health care talk gives alternative to big-government reform

At a recent forum sponsored by the South Central Kansas 9.12 Group, Dr. George Watson of Park City, Kansas laid out a conservative case for health care reform. His message was different than that of most reformers: instead of more government involvement, we need less government. "Yes, we need change," he said. He also said that a public option will result in government takeover of medicine. Watson's plan for reform is this: Each patient or family owns their own policy. There are no mandates and no guaranteed issue. Permit purchases across state lines. Eliminate insurance company clauses that punish subscribers…
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Not all health care administrative costs are wasteful

One of the issues discussed in the health care debate today is the allegedly wasteful administrative and overhead costs of private health insurance, compared to -- again allegedly -- efficient government processes. The Wichita Eagle today printed a letter from a citizen that made this claim. The article Comparing Public and Private Health Insurance: Would A Single-Payer System Save Enough to Cover the Uninsured? makes some useful points. First, "Administrative costs for private health insurance, defined broadly, are in the range of 11-14 percent of total premiums." For Medicare, the figure usually cited is 3%. But when "combined with a…
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Free speech shouldn’t be victim of health care reform

At a forum on health care in Wichita held last Sunday, Dr. Douglas Bradham, DrPH, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the KU Medical School-Wichita, said this: "Direct-to-patient advertising for procedures and for pharmaceuticals, in my mind, should be eliminated." The audience -- a left-leaning group -- applauded. Bradham then gave a few reasons why this advertising is harmful. He's probably correct in his diagnosis. But the suppression of free speech that would be necessary to implement his recommendation is intolerable. I'm surprised that the audience agreed with Bradham's proposed restrictions on such…
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What type of turf is a lie?

The Lone Star Times reports how, at a town hall meeting in Texas, an Obama supporter claimed to be a physician when asking a question. But she isn't: Obama camp plants fake doc, Che fan at Jackson Lee forum. (I wonder if this happened at the same Sheila Jackson Lee town hall where the Member of Congress talked on the telephone while citizens asked questions. Classy.) "Astroturf" is a term used to describe fake grassroots political activity. What type of turf is an outright lie?
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Astroturf, Obama style

At the recent New Hampshire town hall meeting, President Obama took a softball question from a young girl. It seemed innocent enough. Almost natural. The Boston Global article Question by a Malden girl becomes the target of conservative critics contains this: "The critics point to campaign donations and other partisan links of the girl's mother, Kathleen Manning Hall, who was an early Obama supporter and donated money to his campaign. But a White House spokesman insisted that audience members are selected randomly." The girl's mother denies that her daughter was a plant by the White House. Astroturf? (Meaning fake political…
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The real right to medical care versus socialized medicine

In 1994, George Reisman wrote a pamphlet explaining the problems with America's health care system. He criticized the Clinton plan for reform, and offered an alternative based on freedom and markets rather than government interventionism. It is a brilliant work, and still relevant today: "I wrote this essay to help defeat the Clinton plan for socialized medicine. In all essentials it’s as valid today as it was then. It’s a demonstration that government intervention inspired by the philosophy of collectivism is the cause of America's medical crisis and that a free market in medical care is the solution for the…
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Health reform: look at Oregon

In less than 90 seconds this video highlights the upside-down priorities of Oregon's Medicaid system. Lobbying groups have used the political process to push coverage for special-interest causes like substance abuse and weight loss treatment ahead of treatments for some kinds of cancer on the priority list. Having decisions like these made by the political process: is this the type of health reform we want?
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