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Center for Medical Progress


Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster

November 10, 2009

By David Gratzer

World War II Veteran Jack Tagg is losing vision in his right eye. He suffers from macular degeneration, a progressive illness that causes blindness. A drug could slow the deterioration, but the government refuses to pay for it. Why? He's not blind enough. With his left eye spared so far, a government panel has denied funding the pharmaceutical even though his doctor feels it's needed.

No one doubts that Mr. Tagg is suffering. No one denies that medications would help him. The issue is cost. Mr. Tagg, frankly, isn't worth it, according to a government bureaucracy charged with making the funding decision. Mr. Tagg isn't alone.

This government panel has considered other drugs: a kidney cancer drug, which is expensive but proven to extend life; a new and lifesaving breast-cancer drug; an Alzheimer's drug shown to slow the deterioration of the patient's mind. Each time, the government panel has said no. Is this the future of American health care, with a group of well-meaning government bureaucrats standing between a doctor and a patient, determining—quite literally—who will live and who will die?

Well, it's the reality of health care in Britain, where a government committee decides which drugs are worth funding by considering the monetary value of a year of life and measuring it against the cost of the medication. For those who feel that the United Kingdom has nothing to do with the American debate over health reform, consider this: One of the core ideas of ObamaCare is to create a British-style government panel to steer treatment decisions on this side of the Atlantic.

Rationing by committee. It's one of the ideas that will radically transform American health care, leaving us with a shattered private insurance market and a huge government bureaucracy. Look to Britain to see the result—mass protests against government rationing decisions and people waiting for the most basic care.

See it in Canada, where the new president of the Canadian Medical Association has declared, "We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize." See it across the Western world. See it, and realize this: Americans deserve better.

On the trail, candidate Barack Obama offered modest, simple ideas to better the health-care system, such as bringing in electronic health records and cracking down on Medicare fraud. He emphasized that he believed in bipartisanship. He also made a single, reassuring promise: "First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."

The year 2009 has been about passing 1,100-page bills without reading them because of the urgency; dumbing down health policy to cartoonish simplifications with miracle cures (prevention), easy choices (a blue pill and a red pill), and villains (insurance companies and doctors); and reworking one-sixth of the nation's economy with practically no discussion.

There are winners with these reforms: trial lawyers and lobbyists. And there will be one big group of losers: the American people.

That's because the proposed reforms are dangerous to our health. The basic problem is not just the hardball, Chicago-style political strategy employed or the promise-breaking challenge to the status quo. The problem with President Obama's health proposals rests in their very ideological underpinning: that only with a new, massive role for the federal government will we better American health care.

This approach has proven a failure in other countries, leading to the rationing of care and the lowering of standards. It will prove disastrous here—a public-policy malpractice.

This is an excerpt from Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster (Encounter Books, November 2009).

Original Source:



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