Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do you want the bad news first or the bad news first?


When President Obama signed his health-care reform last month, he declared it would "lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government." So why, barely a month later, are Democrats scrambling to pass a new bill that would impose price controls on insurance?

In now-they-tell-us hearings on Tuesday, the Senate health committee debated a bill that would give states the power to reject premium increases that state regulators determine are "unreasonable."

Currently, 27 states have some form of rate review in the individual and small-business markets, but they generally don't leverage it in a political way because insolvent insurers are expensive for states and bankruptcies limit consumer choices. One exception is Massachusetts.  Governor Patrick is now using this regulatory power to create de facto price controls and assail the state's insurers as cover for the explosive costs resulting from our ObamaCare prototype.  Please note that the insurance companies he is controlling are not-for-profit companies seeking to cover their costs.

Rationing is intrinsic to price controls in any market.  In health care this will be rationing and denial of care - already starting in Massachusetts; soon to follow nationwide.

Call Senator Brown immediately to urge him to vote against this bill which imposes price controls that will ration care to patients and cause insurances companies to go out of business.

317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
(202) 224-4543

Now for the bad news!

Last week President Obama nominated Donald Berwick as administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the CMS administrator defines the quality of health care for every insurance plan in the country, sets reimbursement rates for physicians in Medicare and Medicaid, and decides what treatments are more "valuable" than others.

For the past 15 years Berwick has consulted for - or, in his words, been "starry-eyed" over - Britain's National Health Service. In 2008, at a 60th anniversary of  NHS, he told a UK crowd, "I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country."

Berwick complained the American health system runs in the "darkness of private enterprise".

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