Rhetorical Question

  • by: |
  • 02/14/2008
Rhetoric counts.

People seem to like the idea of "universal care" but don't much cotton to "government care." That's why you don't hear any of the remaining presidential candidates talking about the latter. But here's one term that nobody seems to like -- health care rationing.

Unfortunately, though, health care rationing is a direct consequence of government-run health care throughout Europe. It's a truth that's, well, universal -- although entirely absent from SiCKO and stump speeches.

Consider the recent report by the British House of Commons Health Committee. They made a total of 38 recommendations -- here are two:

* Wider debate on rationing in the healthcare system across all stakeholders: in particular, NICE must communicate more clearly the reasons for a negative appraisal to patients and clinicians. The Committee also highlighted the scope for disinvestment in some areas to free up resources for more "cost-effective" treatments.

Typical centralized approach -- costs first, patients last. That's one thing that is universal about top-down government-run health care.

But here's some good news. The Committee also recognized the need for additional research into a more "societal-friendly" (aka: long-term and patient-centric) view of HTA. Specifically, the Committee wants to know more about the Swedish Pharmaceutical Benefits Board (LFN) and its wider societal perspective on reimbursement assessments.

Maybe there's something to be said for the Stockholm Syndrome after all.

All things considered, a free-market approach to health care is the best solution since, by definition, it combines the needs of the consumer (aka: the patient) with those of the service provider (in this instance, payers). Part D is only the most recent manifestation of this Economics 101 phenomenon.

And amazingly (if not surprisingly) discussion of Part D seems to have evaporated from the presidential debate. Why? Because it reinforces the proposition that free-market health care (in the case of Part D in combination with a behemoth government program) gets the job done with excellence and under budget.

There's a lesson there not only our transatlantic cousins -- but for our presidential candidates.

Will reality triumph over rhetoric? Stay tuned.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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