By Alice Dubenetsky
BURLINGTON – When Sally Pipes talks about America’s health care system, she imparts a great deal of knowledge about both the U.S. system and the oft-touted Canadian single payer system.
Pipes spoke to a gathering of concerned Vermonters on November 8th at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington. The day-long Forum on the Future of Health Care in Vermont was sponsored by Vermonters for Health Care Reform, Vermont Tiger, True North Reports and the Ethan Allen Institute. Pipes is the chief executive officer of the San Francisco based Pacific Research Institute think tank, and the author of a number of books, including her latest, The Truth About Obamacare. Her op-eds and essays have appeared in major newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Financial Times of London. She has been interviewed on a number of television shows, including Your World With Neil Cavuto on Fox News, The Today Show, Dateline and a host of others.
Pipes message to the assemblage in Burlington was simple: Who do you want to be in charge of your health care? You, or faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats who will make life and death decisions for you?
According to Pipes, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama will set this nation directly on the path to a single-payer Canadian style health system. She noted that Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Jim McDermott (D-Wash) and Vermont’s own Governor Shumlin are all touting single payer as the only way to cut costs and reform the nations health care and delivery process.
Pipes has first hand knowledge of the horrors of the Canadian single payer system, where a shortage of doctors has resulted in an average wait of 18.2 weeks to be seen by a specialist, and where and average of 325,000 people languish on wait lists for medical procedures. Canadians with financial resources have an escape valve, and can travel to the across the border to the U.S. for care, but those with only government coverage must wait and wait, and they sometimes die unnecessarily as a result.
Pipes shared her personal story about her mother, who, having discovered blood in her stools, suspected colon cancer. She went to her primary physician for a diagnosis, and was given an Xray, which is a completely ineffective test for detecting colon cancer. But, said Pipes, her mother, being a dutiful and polite Canadian, accepted the results and went home. Months later, she had lost 30 pounds and was finally admitted to the emergency room, hemorrhaging. She was finally given a colonoscopy, but it was far too late and she died two weeks later of metastasized colon cancer.
Still, the Obama administration, and our own Vermont administration want to drag Americans into just such a health care framework, complete with rationing, doctor shortages and long wait times. Pipes suggests that those who agree that the federal government is capable of running a vast health care system, and “cutting wasted and abuse” should look no farther than the federally run Medicare and Medicaid systems, both of which are rife with mismanagement, fraud and abuse. She said that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, appointed by President Obama, is nothing short of a health care rationing board.
Obama wants to increase the role of government with this massive takeover, and their vilification of insurance companies illustrates their real goal: Medicare for all Americans. However, Americans demand the best, and won’t be happy with rationed care and scarce medical resources because they are used to having access to the best medical care and technology in the world.
“America is an impatient nation,” said Pipes. “The American people don’t want higher taxes and rationed care. We are on the road to serfdom if we don’t seek an exit ramp. The other side has told a lot of lies,” She cited the administration’s claim that the average family premium would decline by $2,500 per year with the passage of the ACA, yet exactly the opposite is true according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Instead of increasing the role of government, Pipes suggests empowering doctors and patients to make reasonable, cost-based decisions. Today, people generally have no idea what their health care actually costs. If it’s free or cheap, naturally they will consume a lot more.
Pipes suggests changing the federal tax code to let individuals purchase insurance with pre-tax dollars, as employers are currently able to do. This would create a functioning insurance market.
State based malpractice reform, with a looser pay provision in the model that Governor Perry of Texas recently passed would reduce doctor’s operating costs, said Pipes.
Medicare reform must be tackled, possibly through raising the eligibility age and means testing so that it will continue to be available for seniors who really need it. She also suggests Medicaid block grants for states, and expanding tax breaks for Health Savings Accounts.
Pipes concluded by reminding her audience that ‘capital has no nationality’, and that doctors can leave the state, (as many have already chosen to do). As far as the Shumlin administration’s plans for a single payer system, she deems it, categorically, “A disaster for the State of Vermont.”