A doctors organization, an interest group and key conservative donors came out in opposition to the bill. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
If only America had system like (fill in the country name) it would be healthcare morning in America, a shining medical care city on a hill.
There’s no lack of health care advocates - and those styling themselves as such - praising the advantages of a single-payer healthcare system.
The Vanderbilt Poll released May 30, though statistically weak politically, showed health care subjects, among them single-payer, to be inching their way up the ladder of importance for some Tennesseans.
The Vanderbilt news story announcing the polls results said, “Support for the Affordable Care Act is still low but higher than it’s ever been before—29 percent. Additionally, support is growing among Tennesseans to fix the ACA (33 percent, up 5 from November) rather than repeal it (14 percent, down 7) or repeal and replace it (24 percent, down 5). In another surprise, the percentage of Tennesseans favoring a single-payer health care system has risen 6 points since November to 22 percent.”
These percentages of registered – not likely – voters have only marginal political value because it’s statistically possible the entire sampling of respondents don’t vote. Even if these numbers were accepted as gospel, the figure for the ACA is dismal, and only 22 percent favoring single-payer indicates the idea isn’t particularly welcomed even by Democrats.
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In Tennessee, if single-payer were a golf shot it would be stuck in the high rough, behind trees, with a sand trap between it and the green. But it’s at least on the course.
Nationally, single-payer isn’t that long off the tee. The Washington Post on March 27 published a story headlined, “How do Americans feel about single-payer? It’s complicated,” looking at various polls on the subject.
Said the Post: “In CBS’s polling, under 50 percent of respondents approved of the idea. It’s worth noting, though, that the numbers had improved very slightly from when CBS asked in 2014. Then, the split was 43 to 50 against. Last year, the split was 44 to 47.
“A more recent poll, conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center, offered much less favorable views of the issue. Asked if they support a single-payer system, 38 percent of respondents said they did — again with a big partisan split. But in this case, only 51 percent of Democrats favored the proposal.”
Single-payer is touted by some of its proponents as offering Americans full coverage, lower costs, and better care. Who wouldn’t support that? Except, single payer isn’t without its problems. Around the world single-payer is beset by headaches administrative and financial.
What follows, in the form of excerpts from published articles, is a small sampling of examples from around the globe of issues besetting single-payer systems.
HuffPost Canada, April 13, 2017: “Canada’s Health-Care System is Failing to Deliver Timely Care for Patients,” by Bacchus Barua, Senior Economist, Fraser Institute’s Centre for Health Policy Studies.
“By simply viewing the data from another angle we note that, overall, two out of 10 Canadians do not receive ‘priority procedures’ within the remarkably long benchmarks used in the report (six months for hip and knee replacements, for example). Moreover, governments still do not generally report comprehensive and comparable information on wait times for most medically necessary procedures.
“More detailed statistics from other sources paint an even grimmer picture. For example, the Fraser Institute's most recent wait times report finds that wait times (GP to treatment) have almost doubled since 1993.”
The Guardian (United Kingdom), Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, last modified on June 1, 2017: “NHS rationing 'is denying patients care' as cash crisis deepens,” by Denis Campbell, Health policy editor:
Sub-headline: “Survey of doctors reveals concern about adults and children being denied treatment, resulting in emergency care or worsening of long-term conditions.”
“Patients are being denied mental health care, new hips and knees, and drugs to boost their recovery from illnesses including cancer as the NHS increasingly rations treatments to try to overcome its growing cash crisis.”
The Mirror (United Kingdom), June 3, 2015: “Cancer treatment age discrimination ‘kills 14,000 people in Britain every year; The world's biggest cancer conference was told elderly patients are being denied access to treatment options with no basis in science.’”
“Elderly cancer patients must not be denied treatment because of their age, one of the world’s top doctors has warned a global conference, writes Andrew Gregory in Chicago.
“The demand comes as up to 14,000 aged cancer victims in the UK are said to die needlessly every year because they are not offered treatment given to younger patients.
“One study shows British lung cancer patients aged over 75 who are otherwise healthy are five times less likely to get lifesaving surgery than younger patients.
“Half of those diagnosed with cancer in the UK are aged 65 or over.
“Yet charities warn that many older patients still face “blatant age discrimination” in the NHS.”
Toronto Star (Canada), Wed., April 27, 2016: “Sharon’s story: Trip to Buffalo for stem-cell transplant came too late,” By Diana Zlomislic, News reporter:
“Sharon Shamblaw is the latest victim of a major failure in Ontario’s health-care system. Her story explains why more people aren’t getting U.S. treatment
“Since the early 1990s, doctors had repeatedly warned the health ministry about this inevitable collision between inadequate resources and “unprecedented demand” for allogeneic stem-cell transplants, but the crisis went largely unaddressed. The health ministry responded last fall by approving more than $100 million (U.S.) to send hundreds of Ontario patients who would have died waiting for treatment in this province to hospitals in Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit. It was supposed to be a short-term solution while hospitals got the funding to add more treatment beds and staff.
“To date, only 19 patients have received an American transplant, and Shamblaw’s story sheds light on why.”
Japan Times: “Japan’s buckling health care system at a crossroads,” Feb. 19, 2017, by Tomoko Otake:
“As informal surveys by The Japan Times show, the Japanese health care system, the basic structure and regulatory mechanism of which have changed little since universal coverage was achieved in 1961, has its own set of shortcomings and flaws compared with systems abroad.
“Not only that, its rapidly aging society and shrinking ranks of premium-paying workers, coupled with the arrival of new drugs and technologies fetching phenomenal prices, are putting immense strains on the system, experts say, making its sustainability uncertain.”
Politico special report on EU (European Union) healthcare: “Troubled Italian health system frustrates doctors, drugmakers: Promises to hike spending haven’t materialized, and politics may keep things that way,” by Giulia Paravicini 10/6/16, 6:34 AM CET
“ROME — Italy’s health system is hemorrhaging cash.
“Doctors feel underpaid and overworked, and drugmakers are threatening to bolt if more funds are not devoted to pricey innovative drugs.
“The rising drug prices, limited adoption of cheaper generics and a rapidly aging population are among the factors that led to 18 of 20 Italian regions spending more than budgeted on health care in the first six months of this year. In 2013, 15 regions were in the red.
“Italy’s struggles to keep its population healthy with new treatments and care while balancing its books embody the challenges facing much of the rest of Europe.”
Politico Special Report on EU Healthcare: “Europe’s health systems on life support,” 9/30/16, 11:53 AM CET, Updated 10/7/16, 4:21 PM CET, By Carmen Paun
“Europe’s health care systems aren’t feeling very well.
“Doctors have been threatening massive strikes in Britain to protest pay and conditions. Italian regions are going bankrupt trying to fund medicines. Drugmakers are pulling diabetes drugs from Germany, blaming government-set prices that don’t let them recoup their investment.
“Highly specialized medicines for diseases like cancer are entering the market at sky-high prices, forcing governments to choose between the need to treat their citizens and the need to spend wisely. And in many countries, people head straight to the hospital when they’re feeling sick, which makes treating patients especially expensive.”
There are many additional examples of single-payer problems. This isn’t to say that good things don’t happen in single-payer systems, which has some advantages. There are polls that show people in many countries are generally satisfied with such systems. There are also good things that happen in the American system, which has its advantages, and there are polls showing Americans are generally satisfied with their system.
If the answer to the health care question were easy it would be answered by now.
When politicians or others promote single-payer as a nirvana of virtually trouble-free, lower cost, and higher quality care, where everyone gets all the health care they want (and it’s free!), rational people need to raise their guard.
When you think a sales pitch sounds too good to be true, you’re right.
George Korda is political analyst for WATE-TV, appearing Sundays on “Tennessee This Week.” He hosts “State Your Case” from noon – 3 p.m. Sundays on WOKI-FM Newstalk 98.7. Korda is a frequent speaker and writer on political and news media subjects. He is president of Korda Communications, a public relations and communications consulting firm.