For years I have been writing about the failures of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) as a warning for what the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will do to health care here in the U.S.
London's Daily Mail has chronicled the growing problems with the NHS, which include declining quality of care and availability of services coupled with increased costs. This is what is in store for us, if Congress does not repeal Obamacare.
According to the Daily Mail, "NHS hospitals are recruiting Spanish and Portuguese nurses in record numbers while British applicants are being refused because places on training courses have been slashed to cut costs." More than 5,000 student nurse places, it writes, "have been axed since the General Election." The reason? Foreign nurses cost less. Incredibly, they won't be checked to see if they can speak English. The potential for confusion over medication and treatment because of language differences could be significant.
Another Daily Mail story is about Stewart Fleming, a man with severe stomach pains who waited six hours in a hospital cubicle because, according to Andrew Horne, chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust, "that evening was very busy; the hospital was full." The 37-year-old father of two died.
The Daily Mirror reports that at Stafford Hospital in Staffordshire, 1,200 patients died over a four-year period. No one has been held accountable, but the person in charge of the health authority for part of that time, Sir David Nicholson, was promoted and for two years headed the entire NHS at a substantially higher salary.
In a cruel irony, Donald Berwick, the former U.S. Medicare administrator, who has said, "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open," now heads a committee tasked with preventing the NHS from causing harm to patients. That's easy: get rid of the NHS.
A 2010 column by the Daily Telegraph's Janet Daley ran with the headline, "Copying the NHS is the last thing the U.S. should do." She called instead for a "combination of state provision and private contribution" for health care.
The NHS should have been a lesson for the United States. After promising that Obamacare would not raise insurance costs, we are now seeing the reality. Daniel P. Kessler, a Stanford University professor of law and business, recently noted in the Wall Street Journal: "Despite what you read, premiums in Oregon and California are going up, especially for the young." Other states, should they participate (and many say they won't) will inevitably have the same experience.
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