Saturday, June 16, 2012

Delaware Health Security Act – Obamacare…Locally

That’s right folks, you thought Obamacare was about to die a brutal partisan death at the hands of the 5 “conservative” Justices on the Supreme Court?  You thought America was going to be spared the pain of trillions of dollars in healthcare costs thanks to the monstrosity that is Obamacare?  You thought that single payer healthcare was about to be defeated?  You thought that finally, public dislike for the healthcare law had won out?

Wrong!  Now, with Obamacare dying a brutal death nationally, the states are taking up the cause and rallying to make sure that if Obamacare is defeated by the High Court, that it will still be implemented.  In a move that can only be described as brazen and a direct show of force, the Delaware Democrat Party, led by Jack Markell (who like Obama, has hidden behind a prominent Democrat Representative with regards to sweeping healthcare legislation) has pushed out House Bill 392, the “Delaware Health Security Act” with just 7 days left in session.  HB 392, is universal healthcare coverage just like Obamacare except, the Delaware Democrat Party isn’t shying away from something that Obamacare had to hide, it’s a single payer system.  In fact, the law specifically calls itself a single payer system a number of times.

What is a single payer system?  A single payer system is where all the citizens are lumped into a single large insurance pool, regardless of medical status and pay into the pool.  The pool owner (in this case the State of Delaware) then becomes the “insurance provider” and replaces any and all private insurance companies.  That’s right, I said REPLACES ALL PRIVATE INSURANCE PROVIDERS.  So if you like your insurance…oh well.  Think of it as if all of Delaware, every person in the state, was suddenly thrust onto Medicare/Medicaid.  That’s basically what single payer is.

It sounds like single payer could reduce costs, has it been tried anywhere else and how did it work?  Like many progressive utopian ideas, single payer healthcare does SOUND great, that is until you look at how it actually works and how implementations around the world have worked – or – well, not worked so well.  See, the large pool of Delaware citizens (900,000+) would cost a lot of money to insure.  Money we don’t have today.  Delaware already has the 8th highest Medicaid expense per capita in the country according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  More money is spent today on Medicaid than on education in Delaware which means that Medicaid occupies more than 1/3 of the entire state budget.  This is with 1 in 4 Delawareans receiving Medicaid assistance.  Now imagine if you multiplied that to 4 of every 4 Delawareans on Medicaid.  The budget would explode.  Of course, the folks in Dover do have a remedy for this.  Their plan is to create an additional 4%-9% tax (and we all know that “planned taxes” are always MORE than we’re told) on Delawareans and Delaware businesses.  As healthcare costs rise, so will the tax burden.  Just to make sure we’re not taking this out of context, let’s look at the wording of the bill itself:
§1606. Purpose of the Delaware Health Security Act.
The purposes of this Chapter are to:
(1) Guarantee every Delaware citizen, and out-of-state citizens who receive health care coverage from Delaware employers, all necessary health care services offered by the provider of each citizen's choice;

Where else has this been tried and how has it worked?  The single payer system, also known as “Socialized Medicine” is the system in use in many European nations and in Canada.  Canada is the source most often cited case and so let’s take a look at the Canadian model:

Reuters reported that back in 2010, Canada began to reassess its healthcare system as costs soared.  In the piece, medical costs for Canada’s single payer system ate up 40% of the budgets for provincial governments (similar to our states) and that was at a total cost of $174 billion.  At the end of last year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information issued a report that health spending in Canada topped $200 billion.  They listed three main things as major contributing factors to the increase in costs.  Compensation of healthcare providers, increased use of services and an evolution in the types of services were at the top of the list.  This is an interesting problem because on one hand, you want doctors to be well paid so that the smartest and most talented people will seek out that role as a career, on the other hand, when you’re a government and spending tax dollars, you have to maximize your savings.  This is why government sponsored medicine is such a slippery slope.  How does Canada’s compensation for doctors compare to the U.S.?  Well, recent studies have found that U.S. doctors make far more than Canadian doctors and there are more doctors in the U.S. per capita than in Canada.  The question comes down to this, would you prefer a public system where doctors are paid less and less each year (unless spending soars with the salaries of doctors) and see more and more talented individuals not choose a career as a physician or would you prefer a private market solution where the cream of the crop rises to the top and we get the best care available?  Increases in the use of services, especially as the population gets older (as it is here in America) rose dramatically.  The types of services that Canadian patients are receiving is also a part of that cost increase.  Now, it should be pointed out that routine treatments received here in the U.S., such as CT scans and MRI machines are new technology in Canada.  How much different?  There are nearly 8,000 MRI machines active in the U.S. today while just 281 devices are active in Canada.  To put that in perspective, for every 1 million Americans, there are 26.5 active MRI machines while in Canada there are just 6 for every 1 million people.  The numbers are staggering and if healthcare costs are soaring in other countries who employ socialized medicine with inferior and less costly treatments, what can Delaware expect?

Ok, so costs will rise but what about the quality of care?  Canadians wait for their healthcare.  Today, in Delaware, if you are sick, you can see your family doctor in a matter of a few days or even a few hours based on where you live and the severity of your illness.  Hospital visits are often complained about for wait times in the scope of hours and wait times to see specialists are again days to perhaps a couple of weeks.  A 2009 study by Merritt Hawkins in 15 major U.S. cities found that the longest wait time to see a family doctor or a specialist in the U.S. was 49.6 days in Boston (Massachusetts already practices a form of socialized medicine similar to Obamacare) .  That’s a maximum of 7 weeks and the next closest city, Philadelphia clocked in at just over 3 weeks.  These are maximum wait times.  In Canada, general surgical specialty patients are experiencing average wait times of 11.3 weeks.  That’s nearly double the longest wait times experienced in the U.S.  For neurosurgery, Canadians can expect to wait almost 32 weeks or 7 months and for orthopedic surgery, the wait is expected to exceed 8 months.  These are median actual wait times in Canada.  To put this in perspective, the overall median wait time for specialty treatment, from primary care physician to treatment is 17.3 weeks or 4 months.  That’s almost three times the clinically reasonable wait time of 6 weeks and almost 4 times the wait in Boston.

So, after reading this, are you excited about the new single payer healthcare system, matching Canada’s system that is coming to Delaware?  No?  Me either.  Folks, now is the time to make your voice heard.  Now is the time to stand up for yourselves and tell the politicians in Dover that enough is enough.  Delaware might not be in the same fiscal condition as California (yet) but we’re definitely not helping ourselves by continuing to tax and spend like our economy isn’t in crisis.  More than 30,000 Delawareans are out of work today and our fiscal stability is teetering on the brink of disaster.  We HAVE to stand up and step out of our comfort zones.  It’s time to show these politicians in Dover that we’re not going to keep sending them back to Dover to make things worse.  Send a message, send John Kowalko, Earl Jaques, Ed Osienski, Bruce Ennis and Tony DeLuca home. 

Senator Ennis is facing T. Scott Unruh this November…support him by clicking here and let’s make sure Bruce Ennis goes home.
Kowalko, Jaques and Osienski are currently unopposed.  I challenge you to find someone to take on these brazen characters.  Who’s going to stand up and be counted?

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