The House version of a Health Care overhaul billwill not stand up well in the August heat. It makes for scary reading and if the powers that be could have muscled it through it wouldn't be hanging in the wind for all of us to take shots at it. But there it is and it makes for head scratching moments. My friend, Sydney Williams, who writes one of the best investment letters I get to read, passed along some highlights that were extracted by a buddy of his, Peter Fleckenstein.
Page 30, line 23 — There will be a government committee that decides what treatments you get.
Page 50, line 152 — Health care will be provided to all non US citizens, illegal or otherwise.
Page 59, lines 21-24 — Government will have direct access to bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
Page 110, lines 13-18 — An excise tax (will be levied) on all goods from companies not offering government health care.
Page 239, lines 14-24 — Government will reduce physician services for Medicaid. (Does this negatively impact the poor and elderly?)
Page 304, lines 17-19 — Government does not have to protect your private information.
Page 427, lines 15-24 — Government mandates programs for orders for end of life.
Page 429, lines 10-12 — "Advance care consultation" may include an order for end of life plans.
Page 438, Section 1236 — The government will develop a patient decision making aid program that you and your Doctor will use. (I can't help but see Corporal Klink from Hogan's Heroes saying "you will use this aid program!)
Page 660-671 — "Doctors in Residency" - The government will tell you where your residency will be.
I don't want "Doctors Pelosi and Waxman" telling me how I should end my life so it fits into a budget. I know that any proposed bill will be debated endlessly and be changed enormously. Well this one had better.
Also, how you pay for all this has not yet been adequately addressed. A Wall Street Journal editorial this past weekend reminded us not to believe in the "cost savings" or long term projections coming out of the government. We wrote about this once before but the Journal reminds us that when Medicaid was passed it was projected that it would cost $12 billion by 1990. It came to over $110 billion for that year. They were off by a factor of 10. Medicare spending for the first nine months' of this year was $314 billion and growing by 10% a year.
If you think health care is expensive now, wait till it's free. Also, go rent "The Invasion of the Barbarians." It's a 2003 French Canadian independent movie. Subtitles aside, it's a terrific story of father-son reconciliation.
The secondary story, and not the focus of the movie, is the chaos that nationalized medicine is in Canada. Watch the movie and see if that health care delivery system appeals to you. I believe a bill like that proposed in the House would put us on that path.