Collectivists in the Unites States often point to the National Health Service (NHS) of England as the proverbial shining city on a hill, the Alpha and Omega of political medical systems that shows how socialism can help everyone. But two new stories, and a little known fact about the UK's NHS, reveal why socialized medicine isn't just dangerous - it inevitably leads to economic, medical, and moral collapse.
Created in the late 1940s, the government-run, tax-funded, NHS is now 2.5 billion Pounds in the red. It is so bankrupt that, on May 20, the BBC reported that NHS will cut back on payments and curtail care even more than it already does. According to Chris Hopkins, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, 90% of hospitals are in deficit, and the system is unsustainable.
The NHS already forces long waits on people with life-threatening maladies. As the BBC’s Nick Triggle writes:
“The NHS in England is already missing a series of key waiting time targets, including in A&E (Accident and Emergency), cancer care and the ambulance service.”
These frightening problems have come to light on top of the well-known, glacial-length waiting periods for simple hip and knee surgeries, and the problems continue to mount.
On May 22, The UK Express revealed that a breakthrough drug to combat lung cancer will be withheld from NHS patients because the system simply cannot afford it. Simon Lamont-Brown, a man who was told he had two weeks to live - but was then given the treatment on a trial basis and survived - was stunned to hear that the NHS National Institute for Clinical Excellence declined use of the drug for the NHS because the budget was blown.
But these budget problems are not new phenomema for soicialized medicine. The health systems of England and Canada – those very systems held up as the great examples which US politicians should force onto Americans – have been in financial straits for years.
In 1996, when I worked at the television series, “The Outer Limits,” in Vancouver, citizens were complaining about the British Columbia government-run health system. Since government payments artificially spurred demand for doctor visits, the politicians encountered unanticipated costs, which, as happens in all state-run medical systems, inspired them to impose price caps for payments to doctors. This, in turn, led to doctors decreasing the time spent with patients, increasing the number of patients per day, and making up in volume what they were losing in payments per customer.
This, in turn, led to dissatisfied customers, who complained that they were only seeing their doctors for a few minutes before being told the appointment was over.
The answer from the BC government? Politicians and bureaucrats would tell doctors how many patients they could see per day, and what maladies would take precedence. As one friend at the studio sarcastically asked me, “Does that mean they can tell us what to get sick with and at what time of day?”
In the ensuing years, the disastrous Canadian policies have metastasized, leading the BC government, through its licensing gang, the “College of Physicians and Surgeons” to focus on the last refuge for patients in that country: walk-in clinics.
Last year, Pamela Fayerman, of the Vancouver Sun reported that walk-in clinics would be identified as a patient’s “medical home,” and forced to comply with the onerous piles of government paperwork imposed on hospitals and primary care facilities, whether patients wanted that level of “care” or not.
But the provinces of Canada only cobbled together their socialist system between 1968 and 1972. England has had a head start and, as a result, the inevitable consequences of artificially-inspired demand, price caps and bureaucratic decisions in the NHS have become so wicked, the “service” actually has instituted a systematic process of euthanasia.
Virtually unknown by the British public until 2012, and alternately called “The Liverpool Protocol” or “The Liverpool Care Pathway,” the system cuts costs for the NHS by withholding life-sustaining medicine, hydration, and nutrition to terminally ill elderly patients and infants in UK hospitals.
Horror stories of children dying from dehydration, including one found with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, have been uncovered, and now, one of the first doctors to blow the whistle on the system is sounding the alarm about the program which is scheduled to replace it.
Professor Patrick Pullicinio, a medic who revealed many of the Liverpool Protocol outrages, recently noted that the National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE for short, how cute) will not only continue to institute the Liverpool death path, it will also allow for hospital staff to euthanize through starvation and high doses of painkillers even more patients than in the past.
This cost-cutting-through-death is not something Americans should think will be isolated to the UK.
As much as supporters of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) tried to deny it, the legislation, and the nature of all socialized health systems, tells us that this kind of process is inevitable. Critics of the ACA were labeled as alarmists when they said there were “Death Panels” in the law.
Rhetorically, there are no “Death Panels” as such. The term used is “Best Practices,” one which will be seen more and more as the US government, like the UK and Canada, has to cut costs of its increasingly expensive system. Hidden in the ACA legislation is a provision for a team of government “experts” to determine the “Best Practices” for any given malady. This not only gives the government control over what prices it will pay for certain services, it gives the government the power to cut ties with any insurer or cut any payment to a health provider that is offering an actual service the government does not want provided.
According to former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, a big supporter of the ACA, this withholding of care is a good thing. He once noted on “Meet the Press” that the people of the United States had to realize that they just couldn’t keep sustaining lives of the elderly and terminally ill. It was best to have the government determine when to stop paying for the prolonging of life.
To which Doris Kerns Goodwin, one of his unctuous panel cohorts on the program, laughed and said, “Except as we get older.”
This elitism should sound familiar to anyone who has lost a loved-one due to the NHS in England, and to those familiar with Ezekiel Emmanuel - the recognized “Architect of Obamacare.”
Emmanuel made sure this “Best Practice” panel was in the law, and he is of the mind that the government medical system should focus care on those whose lives are in a “contributing phase” (ie, when they show the best promise of bringing the government tax money). According to him, care should not be showered on terminally ill infants or elderly, who have had enough “life experience.”
Emmanuel even wrote a piece for the Atlantic in which he testifies to his desire to die at 75, while ham-handedly implying that his views should be imposed on others through a centrally-planned system. He even hints that those who would like to live longer are being selfish.
What is selfish is forcing one’s views on another, taking his or her money, medical options and privacy away, and telling him or her that such imposed collectivism is for his own good.
People in the UK are experiencing it. And many are dying because of it.