Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Dec. 26, 2002 / 21 Teves, 5763

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Hazardous to your health

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | IN A WORLD that makes no sense, the Bush administration announced last week that it was reducing Medicare payments to doctors by 4.4 percent starting in March 2003 -- that's after a 5.4 percent cut this year. Doctors' costs haven't decreased, frustrated federal officials admitted. Doctors will get less because of a nonsensical Medicare rate formula set by Congress. "When the economy slows down, payment rates will decrease, under the formula," an official, who wished to not be named, explained.

Here's what makes less sense. Even as Medicare policies threaten the ability of seniors to find doctors and receive promised health care, that is, even as Medicare is having trouble delivering on its commitments, some politicians -- try former Vice President Al Gore and California state Sen. Sheila Kuehl -- want the government to make more commitments it can't keep.

They call it "single payer" -- a universal health care package that promises to move the country's 41 million uninsured residents out of emergency rooms and into the health-care community.

They should call it "more promises destined to fail." Look at Canada's single-payer -- and allegedly universal -- health-care system that has left 900,000 citizens of Ontario without a primary care physician. They call that care?

Why would a system that promises to treat everyone leave so many families without a family doctor? Money. It costs money to take care of sick people and money to keep people from getting sick.

There was a time when people understood this simple concept and paid for doctor visits and medicine; insurance provided coverage for serious problems. But managed care introduced the idea to consumers that they shouldn't have to pay anything but a nominal fee for their doctor visits; other providers followed suit. Politicians now promise to pay drug benefits for seniors even as they're shorting doctor payments. It's all part of the Holy Grail of health care in America -- getting someone else to pay.

In Canada, the government pays, so the government devises ways to pay less. The shortest route: Less care.

In the United States, parties play pass-on with health-care costs. Seniors want Medicare to pay for their health care; many want to expand benefits to cover prescription drugs. Medicare shortchanges providers who must pass on unpaid costs to consumers. When the pass-ons grow too big to be absorbed, the rhetoric to get other entities to pay gets ratcheted up -- remember, this stuff is supposed to be free -- and politicians promise more benefits while their policies eventually will net less care.

Ed Colloff, an internist at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, notes that seniors have complained that Kaiser raised its co-payment fees in response to last year's Medicare payment cuts. They have to understand, Colloff noted, one problem: "Kaiser can no longer afford to subsidize the government."

And while patients complain about higher health-care costs, they rarely recognize that the higher costs deliver better care and an enhanced qualify of life.

In Washington, everyone knows there's a problem, but there is too little incentive to fix it. Besides, when you get to the point where you can't pass on the costs, you can still pass on the blame.

It's especially helpful when the public blames, not those who fail to deliver, but those who fail to promise big. Tell voters that you support single payer, and that's supposed to be a sign that you care. Tell voters you want to promise only as much care as the government can afford, and you're mean-spirited. Few will give you credit for trying to keep taxpayers who already have good medical coverage from becoming a Canadian-style statistic.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


Up


12/16/02: Bezerkley or Psycho?
12/13/02: Willie Horton's legacy
12/11/02: Only act of compassion by prez can save him
12/06/02: Food fight in tofu-land
12/04/02: Wireless not tireless
12/02/02: Nutritionally incorrect and right!?
11/27/02: The New New Al Gore
11/25/02: Shaking the foundations
11/22/02: Biting the hand that teaches you
11/08/02: Bush leads
11/06/02: Too big to vote small this month
11/04/02: In a cop killer's name
10/25/02: Off target
10/23/02: Anti-American and not proud of it!?
10/16/02: And now, PC parades
10/11/02: Sitting on the docks by the Bay
10/07/02: For Dems, the mantra ain't "Let every vote count" any longer
09/27/02: Profile in fence-sitting
09/25/02: Achtung, anti-American
09/24/02: Why don't they fear us?
09/18/02: Nobel Peace Prize killer
09/13/02: What you don't see can hurt you
09/06/02: Unequal before the law
09/04/02: To the moon, Jerry
08/30/02: Gold medal in meddling
08/28/02: The summit isn't sustainable
08/23/02: Your tax dollars on drugs
08/19/02: San Francisco, the city of outrageousness, has done it again! Beware and be aware, America
08/16/02:Fraternite, liberte, envy
08/14/02: Academia's swindle
08/12/02: Humane or inane?
08/09/02: See Dick talk
08/07/02: Gore, the Messiah
08/02/02: The compassionate curriculum
07/31/02: No order in the court
07/30/02: West takes on east in the drug war
07/26/02: PC coffee 'brewhaha' Spineless in Seattle
07/24/02: No wonder the rest of the country has been known to sneer at California
07/22/02: Hail, little Caesar
07/19/02: Doctor of the Universe?
07/17/02: Johnny goes to prison
07/15/02: To win or not to win
07/12/02: A paradise for moderns
07/10/02: Hate crime, terror and murder
07/03/02: "Good things" in stir
06/24/02: True justice
06/21/02: How Davey saved California
06/19/02: Delusions of suppression
06/17/02: The Court's on trial
06/14/02: A real-life Mrs. Cleaver
06/12/02: California crude
05/31/02: FBI, investigate thyself
05/28/02: Your tax dollars on drugs
05/24/02: The Bible and the stripper
05/22/02: Who knew?
05/20/02: A modern modest proposal
05/19/02: Euros could don white hats
05/13/02: Home of the brave -- oops, scratch that
05/10/02: Colorblind U
05/08/02: License to spend
05/06/02: Conservatism can survive despite liberal bias
05/03/02:A speech like air kisses
05/02/02: Bush should end bad sentences
04/29/02: Get ready America, California is gettin' into the slave reparations business
04/26/02: Saudis' money for martyrs
04/24/02: Oooh la la, Le Pen
04/15/02: Drill Alaska -- for the children
04/11/02: A good marriage with an esteemed soul mate -- well, nothing beats it
04/09/02: Tied up and Taliban
04/05/02: No justice in reparations
04/01/02: Schools, yes; fat police, no
03/25/02: The government-induced doctor shortage
03/22/02: Conservative hypocrisy on school drug testing?
03/20/02: And now, about Russell Yates . . .
03/18/02: Bush isn't worried about alienating loyalist voters
03/13/02: No exit strategy
03/11/02: Simon hits the big time
03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate