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Obama Nominee for Social Security Board Favors Rationing Health Care

4:17 PM, Nov 15, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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“Some medical services widely available in the United States are strictly rationed in Britain, Aaron and Schwartz report in their book, ‘The Painful Prescription.’ For example, British doctors order half as many X-rays per capita as their American counterparts, and use half as much film per X-ray. They do one-tenth as much coronary artery bypass surgery. British hospitals have one-sixth as many CAT scanners and less than one-fifth as many intensive care unit (ICU) beds....

“Half the patients with chronic kidney failure in Britain are left untreated — and die as a result….

“The key to the British system, they contend, lies not in regulation but in a different attitude toward medicine, mortality and the scarcity of resources.

“Unlike their American counterparts, who tend to believe in saving lives at all cost, British doctors define ‘what is best’ in terms of ‘what is available,’ Aaron said.

“As the director of a tiny 10-bed ICU in an 800-bed London hospital put it: ‘Yes, this would be too small in America. But if you took this unit and set it down in Sri Lanka or India, it would stick out like a sore thumb. It would be an obscene waste of money.’

“The burden of enforcing medical rationing in Britain falls mainly on doctors, who act as ‘gatekeepers’ in the system. They know funds for kidney dialysis are limited, so they simply don’t refer older patients for the life-saving treatment.

“Asked how he could turn away over-55 kidney patients from life-saving dialysis, one doctor told Aaron and Schwartz: ‘What you don’t seem to understand is that everybody over the age of 55 is a bit crumbly.’…

“It will be ‘a lot harder to move into this second stage of rationing in the U.S.,’ Aaron warned.

“The American public has not yet begun to understand what is being asked of it when it comes to limiting the growth in hospital spending.”

Indeed.

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