Friday, January 23, 2009

Palin Tops Obama on HealthCare

Barack Obama could learn a lot about healthcare by reading a copy of the speech Sarah Palin gave yesterday in Alaska . . .

Todd Palin feeding Trig (whom Sarah calls her "little Michelin man") as they both attend Sarah's "State of the State" Address on Thursday in Juneau, Alaska

It's fascinating to contrast what Gov. Palin says about health care with what Obama says (see links following to Sarah Palin's Address yesterday). Video of the Speech

Sarah says (in italics)

"Simply increasing budgets every year, a common government practice, is no guarantee of success. More often, it's an incentive to failure. Good public policy is accountable for results, and focused on critical priorities.

"In this [Alaska legislative] chamber, we share a commitment to serious health-care reform. We've learned from experience that all the answers do not come from Washington. When Congress turns to health-care reform this year, we look to our delegation to make the case for greater competition, more private sector choices, and less litigation in the health-care market. But we're not going to wait. Here, reform can move forward without delay.

" . . . [H]ealth care reform on an individual basis is often just this simple: we could save a lot of money, and a lot of grief, by making smarter choices.

"It starts by ending destructive habits, and beginning healthy habits in eating and exercise. In my case, it's hard to slack when you have the ever-present example of an Iron Dogger nearby. But many of us could use a little more time in our great outdoors - and when you live in the Great Land, there's no excuse.

"Protecting good health is largely a matter of personal responsibility, but government policy can help. Our new Alaska Health Care Commission will recommend changes that affect the well-being of Alaskans far into the future."

As Sarah suggests, our individual health is largely (not completely, of course) self-determined If people behave irresponsibly (in eating, exercise, and other areas) there is no way to hold the line on costs, and people end up being sicker -- and dying earlier -- than necessary. The most critical "reform" in health is a change of heart on the part of Americans -- a willingness to choose good health over the bad kind.

There may be ways to drive down costs -- especially through the use of technology and "virtual clinics" for exams -- that will not compromise the quality of care. Mail order prescriptions save my wife and I about $1,000 per year, and if that gets multiplied by hundreds of million people, it's a painless way to cut overall health care costs. (Admittedly, mail order is not for everyone.)

Most of our society's supposed problems have relatively simple solutions. The reason they don't get solved by someone like Obama is that he's mainly interested in paying off his political supporters/voters, most of whom have little interest in efficiency or cost-containment. Thus, the problems never get solved, except rhetorically.

On just about every issue, I admittedly emphasize cost-cutting. In higher education, for example, there's no reason -- in the age of the Internet -- for college costs to continue rising at twice the rate of inflation. Frankly, college costs should not be five times as much, adjusted for inflation, as they were when I attended the University of Rochester a generation ago.

Where there's no real incentive for cost-cutting, there will be none, a reality that's lost on Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.

I realize that there can't be such thing as a "virtual emergency room" or a "virtual obstetric procedure," but virtual "routine office visits," with perhaps a paramedic in attendance with the patient, should be possible. In fact, Wal-Mart is already doing this.

My wife had a bad stroke in 1991, and she's been on Medicare since 1994, now going into her 15th year. In that time, her Medicare premiums have more covered the expenses in all but two years (one of which she had a gall bladder operation). In short, the government (the taxpayers) is a net winner with her.

She eats well; she exercises regularly (more regularly, alas, than her husband0. She's an extremely prudent consumer of health care services. She realizes nothing is free. She has absolutely no desire to waste American resources.

Is Barack Obama going to encourage people to behave the way my wife does? Very unlikely. I fear Obama is going to overwhelm the health system, discourage young people from preparing for medical careers, and ultimately lead the nation to rationing.

Sadly, you're not going to hear this debate on CNN or MSNBC. They will continue to focus on Michelle's dress, the family's "labradoodle," and Caroline Kennedy's nanny problems.

1 comment:

Jim Fryar said...

On the matter of health care, Patrick Joubert Conlon has a great article on pharmacy costs and how to cut back on them.