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Monday, September 21, 2009



Most of you who read my blogs know that my dear wife, Kathi, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) about ten years ago.  Thanks to the extension of the patent period on drugs for so-called “Orphan Diseases” (by Ronald Reagan), many new drugs have been developed to inhibit the progress of MS.

Of course, because of Kathi’s diagnosis, we have supported the National MS Society in their efforts to find a cure for this disease.  We trusted the Society to focus on research and assistance to those with MS.
Our trust has been betrayed.

Last week I received an email from Scott Hanson who works for the National MS Society and who identifies himself as an “MS Activist.”  What was the purpose of Scott’s email—passage of President Obama’s national health care plan.

To say that I was shocked would be an understatement.  I was, in fact, outraged.  I was also incredulous.

How could a group that serves those with Multiple Sclerosis support a government-run national health care program?  How could such a program possibly benefit those with MS?

One would have to be a fool to believe that the goal of the Democrats and Obama is anything less than total socialized medicine.  Any government-run program that is subsidized by the taxpayers will inevitably crowd out any private insurance that must operate on a profit and loss basis.  So, what we are talking about is indeed a national health care program

In fact, Obama has said on camera that he prefers a one payer system like Canada.  The fact is Canada’s national health care system is imploding.  Doctors are fleeing, enrollment in medical schools is dropping, patients are dying while waiting for treatment, costs are skyrocketing, and care continues to deteriorate
What does nationalized health care mean to someone with an incurable disease like MS?  It means first and foremost rationing of medical care services.  How else can government reduce health care costs?  Of course, costs will not be reduced because the extra layers of bureaucracy will simply make health care more expensive and more limited.

Obamacare also means an end to the development of new drugs.  No more progress in finding cures for diseases, especially orphan diseases.  Today 96% of all new drugs introduced into the market come from private drug companies!  And it is the demand created by the American free market system that is the source of all new drugs for the world.

Unfortunately, one of the first things that Obama did when he entered the White House was to send an order to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) instructing them not to license any new drug that was not better than an existing drug.  That single order caused one big drug company to immediately close down research on several new drugs.

How do you know in advance if a drug will be more effective or better than an existing drug?  Of course, you can’t know that and therefore the risk factor for developing a new drug has become much, much higher!  Moreover, the truth is that some drugs work for some people, but not for others.  For instance, my wife was on Copaxone™ for a year or two, but it eventually stopped working.  Now she is on Rebif™ which has been working successfully for a number of years.  In contrast, a friend of ours with MS was on Rebif™ but could not tolerate the drug and is now on Betaseron™.  On paper different drugs may appear to work equally well, but in reality, everyone is different and different drugs work differently for each person.

But back to health care.  The Obama-Pelosi-Reed plan is built, in part, around something called Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) which is simply a standard for rationing health care.  It works something like this.  Standards are established that say an 85 year old woman cannot get a pace maker, but a 40 year old woman can.  A 65 year old man who needs a hip replacement must go to the back of the line while a 45 year old goes to the front of the line.

The fact is that someone who is approaching retirement with MS will not gain access to new drugs and new treatments, while a younger person might gain access.

Advocates of national health care cannot cite one instance at any point in history or in any country that has worked successfully.  Obamacare will ultimately lead to the government picking your doctor, to deciding what care or treatment you will receive, and to long waiting periods before treatment, if any treatment at all.

Obamacare will lead to shortages of doctors and nurses similar to those that exist in England and Canada. 

Obamacare means medical care by rules and regulations, not by a doctor and a patient deciding what is best in each individual case.  For example, I have an airline pilot friend that took a bad spill in a bathtub while he was in London on turnaround between flights from the US to the UK.  He was taken to the hospital where they took one x-ray.  The doctor told him that his ribs were only bruised, so he dealt with the pain and flew the plane home.  Upon returning, the pain got worse so he went to a doctor here in the US who took three x-rays.  Lo and behold, he had three clearly fractured ribs!  Now there’s not much you can do about a fractured rib, but he would not have been allowed to fly the plane back from London if it had known that the ribs were broken.  More importantly, the lesson is that rules allowing only one x-ray are just typical of what you and I can expect in medical treatment if Obamacare passes.  Medical care by rules and regulations lead to bad diagnosis, more severe health issues, and ultimately to a shorter life span.

No one can contest the fact that survival rates from cancer and other diseases are much, much higher in the US than they are in England.  Medical care in England, in Canada, and in all other countries beset by socialized medicine, are inferior in every way to the quality of medical care that you and I receive today. 

Socialized medicine doesn’t work.  That’s why medical clinics and hospitals in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Buffalo are filled with patients from Canada.  It’s the same reason that people from England and around the globe come to the US for treatment.

The United States has the best medical care in the world.  It’s not perfect, but the Obama proposal does not even address the biggest cause of high medical costs—punitive damages.

The elimination of punitive damages would immediately and dramatically lower the cost of medical care here in the US. 

Making medical insurance premiums deductible by each individual, instead of by employers, would immediately make all insurance plans more affordable and totally portable.  You could choose a deductible plan that suits your life and your situation.

Trying to solve our health care issues by having the government take over health care is like trying to do heart surgery with a hand axe instead of a scalpel—the damage will be irreversible.

I’ll say it once again, a national government-run health care system will have the compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the Post Office.

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