rationing health care in the USA

MR. GREGORY:  Senator Hutchison, you said this [task force recommendation against routine mammography for women aged 40 to 49] is the beginning of rationing.

SEN. HUTCHISON:  I think it is.

MR. GREGORY:  Why did you say that?

SEN. HUTCHISON:  It’s because it’s whether the insurance and the public option [in the health reform bill] are going to pay for a woman who decides that she wants to have the mammogram before the age of 50 or more than every other year after 50. If the public option doesn’t pay for that–and the task force recommendations are what the public option is going to rely on. So this task force says all of a sudden we’re going to change the guidelines that we have had for all these years.  And now the public option may not pay for those, and that means the insurance companies are going to follow. The key is that these are covered by insurance so women will not have to decide if they’re going to spend $250 to get a mammogram because they and their doctors believe it is right to do so.

That is TV journalist David Gregory interviewing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, on “Meet the Press” last Sunday (22 November 2009).  Ms Hutchison is a vocal opponent of the Democrats’ health reform bill. Yet she also believes that public or private insurance should cover the full cost of a mammogram. If a woman of any age, on advice of her doctor, wants a mammogram, she should not be forced to pay $250 out-of-pocket in order to obtain it.

Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt was listening and, only partly tongue-in-cheek, writes

I cannot recall a clearer statement of unreserved support for universal and comprehensive health insurance for America and a more straightforward definition of rationing health care.

Uwe E. Reinhardt, “Health Care Rationing, American-Style”, Economix, 27 November 2009.

Professor Reinhardt is absolutely correct. Senator Hutchinson has been active in promotion of screening for breast cancer, but her logic would apply equally to screening for other cancers, indeed to medical attention for the prevention and treatment of other illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes. In sum, though she may not be aware of it, Senator Hutchinson’s reasoning supports universal health insurance.

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2 Responses to “rationing health care in the USA”

  1. Unnecessary Roughness says:

    She knows she is for government healthcare and always has been. Look at her votes over the years. Every time, she votes with the Democrats to expand S-CHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. This is an election year conversion to try to beat Rick Perry, but judging by the polls in Texas, nobody is buying her sudden change of heart.

  2. The fact remains that big insurance by refusing care to patients and reimbursement to doctors over typos has ticked everyone off. They have a monopoly over the whole process and a well financed lobby team (including Lieberman’s wife) and representatives on both sides of the aisle.

    A friend of mine recently laid off just he and his spouse is paying $2,500.00 dollars a month for his COBRA. Health insurance costs more than his mortgage. Anyone taking up the insurance industry’s cause doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    If you think the insurance companies are going to voluntarily lower their cost while having a monopoly over the process – you are being disingenuous …Over 60% of all US bankruptcies are attributable to medical problems. Most victims are middle class, well educated and have health insurance – (The American Journal of Medicine)

    The insurance companies and their representatives in Congress would love to perpetuate a business model that is crippling our overall economy – a bunch of great Americans aren’t they?

    90% of the wealth concentrated in 1% of the population is no way to run a country but a heck of a way to establish a royalty ruling class. Yacht sales can not sustain 350 million people. I’m for the public option, competition and a level playing field or break up the big insurers like we did AT&T.

    A slavish focus on profit margin might be good for the individual or a business, but it is one helluva lousy way to “govern” a Country. The GOP being a wholly owned subsidiary of Corporate America has a hard time with that concept.

    Paul Burke
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