June 05, 2008

Robert Goldberg on How Ted Kennedy's Policy Proposals Kills People with Similar Conditions.

From The New York Post.

(I'm going to have to throw in a reminder here that I don't want to see any attacks on Ted Kennedy in the cancer context.

I do realize that some people can't help but think of deep water, alcohol abuse, lack of enunciation, and lace-curtain Irish when the man's name comes up; knock yourself out. Any excessively vitriolic or "let him die" kinds of remarks, however, will be subject to deletion, or to whimsical editing for my personal, childish amusement.)

But one cannot help but be struck by the irony: in the quixotic attempt to make sure that every healthy 25-year old is covered by health insurance, we might not pay attention to those "unintended consequences" the Canadians and Britons both endure, and we could end up killing some of the people we were hoping to save.

As with most of these misguided projects, the risks are lower with McCain in the White House, vs. Obama.

. . . [T]he dangers of the liberal health-care agenda are being made clear by the care that a liberal icon, Sen. Ted Kennedy, has received since his brain seizure last month.

One day after an MRI detected a tumor, Kennedy was quickly diagnosed with a malignant glioma—a rare and often-fatal form of brain cancer. Less than two weeks later, his tumor was being removed by one of the world's experts in brain cancer at Duke Univeristy Medical Center. He'll follow up with chemo and radiation therapy tailored to the genetic makeup of his cancer to keep the cancer from spreading.

He'll likely take Avastin, a drug that in experiments with brain cancer has extended survival by months. A new cancer vaccine being developed in partnership with Pfizer could extend his life by six years.

Of course, with his wealth and power, Kennedy would get good treatment anywhere. But the same care is available to every American. Not so - if we make the health "reforms" called for by Kennedy and other liberals.

Filmmaker Michael Moore gives their standard line when he says: "There are problems in all health-care systems, but at least Europeans and Canadians have a health-care system that covers everyone." Problem is, governments that promise to "cover everyone" always wind up cutting corners simply to save money. People with Kennedy's condition are dying or dead as a result.

Consider Jennifer Bell of Norwich, England. In 2006, the 22-year-old complained of headaches for months—but Britain's National Health Service made her wait a year to see a neurologist. Then she had to wait more than three months before should could get what the NHS decided was only a "relatively urgent" MRI scan. Three days before the MRI appointment, she died.

Well, it could be worse: she could have been Cuban, and dealing with the roach-infested facilities that most of those on the island are relegated to. ("But at least everyone's at the same level, there." Um, no. Not the well-connected. Under socialism, one has to kiss up to dictators to get one's needs met. Here, all one has to do is scrape up some cash. That is, of course, an easier project.)

More from Goldberg:

Consider, too, the chemo drug Kennedy is receiving: Temodar, the first oral medicine for brain tumors in 25 years. Temodar has been widely used in this country since the FDA approved it in 2000. But a British health-care rationing agency, the National Institute for Comparative Effectiveness, ruled that, while the drug helps people live longer, it wasn't worth the money—and denied coverage for it.

Barack Obama—and other Democrats—have been pushing a Senate bill to set up a similar US "review board" for Medicare and any future government health-care plan.

After denying this treatment completely for seven years, the NICE [. . .] relented—partly. Even today, only a handful of Brits with brain tumors can get Temodar. And if you want to pay for Temodar out of your own pocket, the British system forces you to pay for all of your cancer care—about $30,000 a month.

That's one of the evils of some Medicare rules, even here and now: there should never be a rule against buying something extra "a la carte." And yet most of these bureaucrat-driven systems won't let you get anything "on the side" that your insurance won't pay for. That's just evil.

Goldberg continues:

Things are no different in Canada, where the wait for an MRI (once you finally get a referral) has grown to 10 weeks. For Canadians relying on their government health care, the average wait time from diagnosis of cancer to surgery is beyond the guideline set by both the US and European societies for surgical oncology.

And HealthCanada, the government system, similar[ly] refuses to pay for treatments that are often covered in America. Chad Curley, a 37-year-old auto worker from Windsor, Ontario, had a brain tumor like Kennedy's but can't have surgery because his is too large to be operable.

His tumor didn't respond to Temodar, and the same doctors now treating Sen. Kennedy told him and his wife that the Avastin combination could stop his tumor from growing and add months to his life. But HealthCanada wouldn't pay to use Avastin to treat his tumor.

I want our health-care "system" in which patients have the power to affect their care. I don't want someone else deciding what I do and don't need. Under socialized medicine, these calls are being made by people who haven't even met the patients. That's not okay.

h/t: Flopping Aces.

Posted by Attila Girl at June 5, 2008 11:02 AM | TrackBack

Under socialized medicine, these calls are being made by people who haven't even met the patients.

As I recall, that was the Dem's knock on HMOs. I keep wondering why they think a government run, totally involuntary HMO would be any better?

No, I do know why. Because they're elitists, and they think they'll get that upper-tier service. Some will, most won't.

Tell ya what, Senator Kennedy: I'll go along with your healthcare plan on two conditions:

1. There is absolutely only one tier of service, and that if some anonymous bean counter in a cubicle somewhere determines that it's too expensive to continue your treatments, you'll accept that without complaint.

2. That there be a sunset provision in the legislation, so that after a number of years we go back to the current setup unless a reauthorization is passed.

What's that you say, Senator? poison pills? why, yes, yes, they are.

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at June 5, 2008 02:56 PM

Let's not go bringing Oregon into this.

Posted by: Attila Girl at June 5, 2008 08:23 PM

While much more under the influence of Ayn Rand than I am now, I wrote a novel that involved the nationalization of the US health care system.

Some time after writing the book, I was getting the notion that the fictional system I described was too draconian to ever be tolerated by its subject citizens. The UK and Canada have disabused me of that notion.

Posted by: John at June 6, 2008 03:49 AM

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