News and Analysis (July/August 1999)

Robbery: "It all depends how you define it"

Cal Thomas says "I am not on welfare, nor do I receive any other direct payments from government. The bargain I have with government is that I send them up to half my income and in return they promise not to put me in jail" (The Post-Journal, March 7, 1999). "God asks for only 10 percent. The total government take is 50 percent." The reason, of course, that government takes half of your income is that government can't trust you to handle your own money. You're just too darn stupid. Government knows better how to spend your money on you. And, this massive confiscation of the fruits of your labor by government is all perfectly legal because government says so --- "legalized plunder."

But, what happens when top government bureaucrats are asked to make a "contribution" to those who feel that they have a greater "need" for the money? Answer: They throw themselves on the ground and scream bloody murder. It seems that on March 7, 1999, three people got together and "voted" to rob top HHS bureaucrat, Donna Shalala. Ms. Shalala, however, refused to make a "contribution" and instead "fell to the ground in a fetal position and screamed" (The Buffalo News, March 8, 1999). The suspects were arrested a short while later.

This, of course, suggests the perfect strategy for next April 15. On that date we will suggest that all tax "contributors" who feel like they are being robbed by their own government, fall down to the ground in a fetal position and start screaming. Maybe then Congress will allow us to keep and spend our own money.

Canadian Doctors and Patients Migrating South

In a testament to the fact that "Universal Coverage" is not the same as universal medical care, a lung transplant had to be cancelled in Toronto on 02/05/99. A donor was available, a rare match was made, the recipient was eager for the life-saving transplant, but the surgery was cancelled and the lung was wasted. Transplant recipients, you see, require close observation in an intensive care unit following surgery and no ICU beds were available in Toronto on the day of transplant surgery.

The Canadian government, of course, unable to provide for the medical needs of its citizens in a timely fashion has contracted with hospitals in the United States for cardiac bypass surgeries, cancer treatments and other essential services (The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1999). Some Canadian physicians are even crossing the border and supplying the services they are prohibited from selling to their own citizens in Canada. It seems that the only thing universal about Canadian health care is the entitlement to long and sometimes lethal waiting times to receive treatment.

In a study done by Dr. Bill Mackillop, Head of Radiation Therapy, Kingston Regional Cancer Center in Ontario, he found that "Canadian patients were waiting an average of three times longer than patients in the U.S. for treatment." He also found that patients were waiting one third longer for cancer treatment than their doctors felt was reasonable. Some patients wait so long that they have even started forming support groups for patients waiting for cancer treatment. According to Michael Walker and a Fraser Institute survey, the average wait for all types of surgery is 6.8 weeks, the wait to see a specialist (possibly before being referred to the surgeon) is 5.1 weeks, and the wait for an MRI scan is 11.1 weeks in Ontario. And, its not just a matter of throwing more money down the deep dark hole of socialized medicine to "fix" it. "Indeed, Dr. Mackillop noted that there were serious staffing shortages and no prospect that sufficient staff could be trained." So, where would Dr. Mackillop go if he got sick? When he was asked this question by a U.S. congressional committee studying health care, without skipping a beat, he replied "I would go to Buffalo or someplace else in the U.S. to get prompt treatment."

When asked whether he supported the continuation of a Canadian-style health care system, he replied that he did. That, of course, is one of the unique character traits of advocates of socialized medicine --- their uncanny ability to accommodate complete contradictions.

(It is elitism and doublethink, George Orwell's 1984.---Ed.)

Poor Penmanship

Your first grade teacher was right --- good penmanship is everything. And, if you don't have it, Medicare is going to make sure that you pay the price. In the March 1999, Medicare Bulletin, Medicare warns: "Medicare depends upon a review of documentation to establish necessity and reasonableness for a service or supply. Illegible records cannot be judged and, therefore, payment cannot be made..." We anticipate that as Medicare continues to run short on funds, that there will be an increasing number of requests for refunds from doctors and that Medicare will hire an increasing number of clerks with poor vision to ensure that they can recoup enough money to "save" the financially doomed Medicare program.

This edition of News and Analysis was written by AAPS Board of Directors member, Lawrence R. Huntoon, MD, PhD. It appeared in the
Medical Sentinel, July/August 1999, Volume 4, No. 4, p. 123.