Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Saturday, January 05, 2008

So When is a Universal Health Care System not Actually Universal?

After it's been in place long enough that the State can't deny its inability to maintain it.
In Socialized Medicine, Everyone Is A Doctor

Health Reform: The British have found a way to shorten those long, annoying waits for care and lower the rising costs of their universal access system. They'll let patients take care of themselves.

The London Telegraph reported Tuesday that the British government has a "plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget." But it won't come without enormous pain.

"Instead of going to a hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out 'self-care' as the Department of Health tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending," the Telegraph explained.

So when is a universal health care system not actually universal? When Britain's 60-year-old National Health Service can no longer support the weight of its clamoring clientele.

Granted, there should be more self-treatment in developed nations. Emergency rooms and doctors' offices are often overcrowded with patients who aren't in need of urgent need but who go anyway because their insurance or government is paying. That type of open access to health care has led to overuse of the system.

The NHS, though, is hoping to cut down on more than frivolous visits. It's looking for patients with "arthritis, asthma and even heart failure" to treat themselves, the Telegraph said.

Some of the self-care that will be expected of patients includes the monitoring of heart activity, blood pressure and lung capacity using equipment that has been placed in the home.

Patients will be counted on to relate health information to doctors either by phone or computer link. To manage pain, they will administer their own drugs and other treatments.

Patients will also be asked to evaluate the significance of changes in their conditions as well as employ relaxation techniques that the government hopes will help them relieve their stress and avoid emergency room visits caused by panic.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown characterizes the policy changes as improvements that will allow patients to "play a far more active role in managing their own condition." The British Department of Health calls it an "exciting opportunity."

But what they're really saying is "our universal health care system is broken, and you're on your own."
There's more. Read the rest of the editorial, but the key question asked is the very next line:
And we ask yet again: Is this the sort of system we want in the U.S.?
Yet, like the many-headed hydra of Marxism and its ilk, we will be told by defenders of "universal health care" that this won't happen here. No, the right people will be in charge, and everything will work properly this time. It'll be fair, equal, and economical!

Here's some more from (the formerly) Great Britain:
Waiting times target 'will be missed'

Plans to eliminate excessive waiting times in the National Health Service stand no chance of succeeding, an independent think-tank claims today.

In a serious blow to Gordon Brown's credibility, Civitas says the target of a maximum 18-week delay from GP referral to treatment by December is an "impossibility".

Its report, Why are we waiting?, comes as the Prime Minister signals his intention to press ahead with a constitution for the NHS.

James Gubb, of Civitas, said this was completely unrealistic. Labour had tried to deal with massive waiting lists by imposing targets on all levels of the service - including a 48-hour maximum wait for a GP appointment by 2004, and a four-hour maximum wait in A&E.

By April 2006, 203,114 people were waiting longer than 13 weeks for a proper diagnosis, of whom 96,416 were waiting longer than 26 weeks.

The figure included 12,648 waiting for longer than 13 weeks for MRI scans and 2,488 for CT scans.

Since then improvements have been made, and virtually no one is waiting longer than 13 weeks for a CT scan and just 169 were waiting longer than this for an MRI scan. But in October 2007, there were still 30,832 patients waiting longer than 26 weeks for diagnostics, of which 16,551 were waiting over a year.

The Government committed itself to reducing the time between seeing the GP and going into hospital to 18 weeks by the end of 2008. There is an interim target of 85 per cent to be achieved by the end of March 2008, but Civitas claims it is "sure to be missed".
Got cancer? A hernia? Thirteen weeks is a long time.

Predictably, nationalized health care is a political battleground:
Birthday politics

As the NHS turns 60, politicians fight to blow out the candles

NO SOONER had the new year begun than the parties grabbed scalpels and started scrapping for advantage in the operating theatre. In a message to health-service staff, Gordon Brown said this would be “the year in which we demonstrate beyond a doubt that the NHS is as vital for our next 60 years as it was for our last”. Since Labour founded the health service in 1948—an act opposed then by the Tories—the prime minister's letter was pure politics. For his part, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, proclaimed an audacious ambition for the Tories “to replace Labour as the party of the NHS” in 2008.

The intense political focus on the health service springs from continuing public worries about its condition. Over the past decade, it has generally been rated the most important issue facing Britain, according to Ipsos MORI, a pollster. More recently it has slipped behind immigration and crime, but over the past year it has usually come second or third.

Even more important in the calculations of the two leaders, Labour no longer holds the commanding heights in health-care politics. For several years after winning power in 1997, Labour outscored the Tories by colossal margins as the party with the best policies for the NHS. This lead had collapsed by the time that Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister last summer. Beset by his own difficulties, Mr Brown is also in trouble. According to a recent poll by Populus, Labour is only narrowly ahead of the Tories as the best party for the NHS: 33% of respondents backed Labour, 29% preferred the Conservatives.

The public's loss of faith in Labour is rooted in a sense of disappointment that too little has come of the record funding increases of the past decade.
Really? "Record funding increases"?
Although long waits for operations are a thing of the past and many more patients are being treated, other aspects of the health service are lacklustre. Cancer-survival rates are poor by international standards; family doctors no longer see patients on Saturdays; and hospital-acquired infections are frighteningly frequent. Fuelling public discontent, medical staff are astonishingly fed up, even though they have received a string of big pay increases.

Mr Brown is now trying to respond to some of these concerns. A new five-year strategy to combat and prevent cancer was unveiled a month ago.
Yes, the government is now your doctor.

So woe unto you if you smoke, drink, overeat, or are elderly.

You cost too much.
140,000 NHS patients leave hospital undernourished, government admits

Nearly 140,000 NHS patients left hospital last year suffering from malnourishment, the Government has admitted.

Health campaigners have frequently complained that the elderly are treated as second-class citizens, with nurses and staff failing to provide help with eating meals.

Families complain about trays being placed out of reach of incapacitated patients or taken away before they have had time to finish eating.

Now it has been revealed that last year 139,127 patients were discharged malnourished, an 85 per cent increase on the number when Labour came to power in 1997.

Despite an attempt by the Government to improve hospital food last year, there are also continuing concerns about the quality of many meals.

Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien, who uncovered the new figures by asking Parliamentary questions, said: "It is a scandal that in 21st century Britain we allow vulnerable patients to be let out of hospital in a malnourished state.

"It is even worse that we allow thousands of patients to get more poorly while they are in hospital."

The figures show that, in 2006-07, 139,127 patients were discharged with a diagnosis of malnutrition, nutritional anaemia or another nutritional deficiency, up from the 1997-98 total of 75,431 patients.

The number has increased every year in the last decade. It went up 14,795 in the last year alone. Most patients were already suffering from malnutrition when they were taken in.

A total of 130,594 were admitted to hospital in 2006-07 in a state of malnourishment – an 85 per cent increase from the 1997-98 total of 70,658 patients.

But the nutritional state of at least 8,500 patients worsened while they were in hospital last year, the figures suggest.

Mr O'Brien said: "Malnourished patients are more prone to infections, have more complications after surgery, and have higher mortality rates – yet the Government allows over 130,000 patients to enter hospital in the state.

"If patients are at risk of malnutrition then they should be offered extra support before going into hospital, and they should be cared for better while they are in.

"Nurses need to be given the time and equipment to get on with the job of caring for our most vulnerable patients."

Health minister Ivan Lewis admitted last year that elderly patients were being starved because food was put out of reach or was inedible.

Some are given just a single scoop of mash as a meal, while others are "tortured" with trays of food thoughtlessly placed beyond their reach, he said.

He criticised the NHS for failing to realise that food is the key to good health, and set out plans for weekly weigh-ins of every patient and colour-coded trays to signal who needed help.
Color coded trays. Now there's a bureaucrat's response if I ever saw one.
Gordon Brown outlines NHS reforms

Britons wanting to be treated by England's National Health Service may have to qualify to receive free care under a new plan, a report said Tuesday.

Smokers or people who are chronically overweight may have to agree to exercise or to other changes in their lifestyles in return for NHS treatment. Moreover, patients who miss or chronically arrive late for hospital appointments may have penalties imposed on them, The Times of London reported.
Gee, does that sound like universal health care to you?

Our system is far from perfect, but more government interference and involvement is not the answer.

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