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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

New Study Disputes Claims that Health Security Act Would Save Money: Massive Spending Increases, Rationing Predicted

(Albuquerque) Roundhouse watchers expect health care reform to be the most important single issue dealt with during the 2008 legislative session in Santa Fe. Among the reforms on the table is the Health Security Act, which would set up a government-run, single-payer system here in New Mexico.

While consultants from Mathematica admit that they made “heroic assumptions” in their analysis, they nonetheless claimed that the Health Security Act would save between $63 million and $209 million compared to the current system. In his new study, “The Health Security Act: New Mexico’s Coming Single-Payer Health Care Disaster?” David Hogberg questions that claim and explains why a single-payer system could send costs spiraling out of control, resulting in rationing.

As Hogberg, a Washington, DC-based health care analyst and an adjunct scholar with the Rio Grande Foundation, points out in the paper, “Under a single-payer system, patients will have incentives to over-use health care services, leading to a rapid rise in costs. That will, in turn, put pressure on the state budget, causing politicians to look for ways to control costs.”

“Unlike HMO’s which usually base decisions on need,” Hogberg continued, “government is more political in its decision making process. Thus, patients who need expensive but relatively less common treatments and procedures, such as heart surgery, hip replacements, or chemotherapy will face steep hurdles and long wait times as we have seen in other nations.” Examples include:

· In Canada, Diane Gorsuch waited over two years for a surgery to fix the clogged arteries leading to her heart. She twice had appointments to get that heart surgery. Both appointments, however, were cancelled. Before her third appointment came, she suffered a fatal heart attack.

· In Great Britain, Mavis Skeet had her cancer surgery cancelled four times before her cancer was determined to have become inoperable. Another Brit, Brian Booy, became the ultimate victim of bureaucracy in that he was finally assigned an appointment for bypass surgery a year after he died from a heart attack.

· Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson had to wait for eight months for a hip replacement. As a result he suffered in great pain and was unable to perform some of his governmental duties. The latest data shows that about 60 percent of Swedish patients needing a hip replacement wait more than three months.

"Rather than adopting a 'single-payer' health system, New Mexicans should embrace a more market-based approach to health care," concluded Hogberg. "The Health Security Act would create more problems than it solves." The paper is available here:

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