Friday, September 28, 2007

Universal Health Care Fails in Japan

JWR reported If universal care were the genuine cure-all, the one country where it should work is Japan. They have a homogenous population, healthier lifestyle, eat more fish and soy, more vegetables and far less obesity than here. If universal care does not work there why should it work anywhere?
Because it does not work anywhere
According to Japanese legislator Takashi Yamamoto, who was just diagnosed with cancer, "abandoned cancer refugees are roaming the Japanese archipelago." Patients are told they¹ll never get better, even when treatments exist, and many are not even informed of their diagnoses. Cancer mortality rates in Japan have been steadily climbing and are now more than 250 per 100,000, while U.S. rates are now around 180 per 100,000.
Because those treatments cost more than a funeral.
Japanese public television showed the stark contrast. In the U.S., multiple specialists meet to discuss a cancer patient¹s care. In Japan, a single doctor usually makes the diagnosis and carries out treatment with minimal consultation.

And how long to wait fo the appointment.
While Japanese patients want American-style treatment, their policymakers are alarmed. With a huge national debt and corporations worried about higher taxes, they say Japan can¹t afford to pour money into treatments that can¹t extend life span by very much.



Captain's Quarters blogged The legislation that passed the Senate limits the S-CHIP application to households that earn 300% of the federal poverty line. This is an apparent change from earlier versions that had the limit at 400%, and that can be found in Section 110 (a)(8)(a) -- except that 110 (a)(8)(b) allows states to make exceptions that could force the government to provide grants to others as well. At 2007 poverty levels, a family of three could make up to $52,000 per year and still be eligible in 2007, and in 2008 that number would likely go to $54,000 or more as the poverty level gets indexed to inflation. In Alaska, that number goes to $64,000.
It is outrageous that legislation to help poor people should be twisted to provide government health insurance for middle class people instead.
Even with the reduction in application, this still moves money from primarily poorer people with the sharply regressive cigarette tax and gives it to the middle class. It also undermines the market for private insurance, which has better coverage than the government Medicaid coverage that will crowd out the free-market solutions. The expansion beyond the S-CHIP's original intent to assist poor children dilutes the program and adds to entitlement programs that are already threatening to bankrupt the nation.
And what is bad is that many do not realize how this expansion is focused on people making that much money. I had to explain it to a friend who is just getting by on social security that this is not focused on people in his financial condition.
Will the President veto the legislation? He has only issued three vetoes in almost seven years, and two of those protected embryos. He has not vetoed an entitlement expansion, especially not the prescription program for Medicare that he championed.
If he does not veto it, his threat to veto will mean nothing.
A veto on S-CHIP will put enormous pressure on a handful of Republicans who stuck to fiscal responsibility and who face tough re-election campaigns already in the House. It may also create some pressure on Senators who gave the bill a thin veto-proofing that the House failed to achieve in its bipartisan vote.
If they do not vote to sustain his veto it will mean that they really don't care at all for fiscal conservative principles.
I don't believe the President will veto the bill, although he should. He will probably want to save his political capital for Iraq and the appropriations bills that he will almost certainly veto in the next month or two.
If he fails to veto this absurd bill he will never succeed with vetoes of appropriation bills laden with pork.
Those will require continuing legislation that will create a lot of contentiousness, and the gains from vetoing the S-CHIP expansion will be minimal among his base. His presidency has not been an exemplar of spending control as it is.

If he surprises and follows through on his veto threat, the pressure on Republicans will be enormous. It could set leadership on Republicans from safe seats to reverse their support for the expansion as written, hopefully by presenting the tax-break package that the GOP developed belatedly to combat this version of S-CHIP. That would keep incumbents in tough races from having to explain a vote against the original, while forcing Congress to do the right thing.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gesture to Arabs

NYT reported Israel should stop work on a security barrier in and along the West Bank and halt settlement activity there as a good-will gesture
It would make it much easier for the Palestinians to do what they love best: Killing Joozzz.
to assure Arab states that it is serious about comprehensive peace talks, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said yesterday.
How about the arabs making a good will gesture and stop shooting rockets into Israel, and stop sending suicide bombers.
The minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, stopped short of making his demand a condition for Arab attendance at a planned Middle East peace conference. And he said that in recent days, he had become encouraged about the prospects for the conference, which the United States is to sponsor in November. But he would not promise that Saudi Arabia would attend, a major Israeli objective.
That is because he knows the effort is fruitless.