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When Cutting Costs Means Cutting Care
Government Takeover of Health Care Promises More Rationing and Less Innovation

As congressional Democrats scramble to finalize the massive health care overhaul they plan to push through the U.S. House of Representatives this month, questions continue to mount about the consequences of their plan for American families.

Independent analyses have already proven that the so-called “government option” is not going to be optional for the millions of Americans who will lose the health care coverage they have today if the Democrats’ plans ever become law. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 23 million Americans would lose their current coverage under a plan being developed in the Senate. But that’s nothing compared to the 114 million Americans who will be forced out of their current coverage under the plan put forward by House Democrats.

So what exactly will this new, government-controlled plan mean for the millions of Americans who will be forced to rely on it for their care? Today’s Wall Street Journal paints a remarkably clear – and disturbing – picture based on the government-controlled plan in the United Kingdom:  

“Take the United Kingdom, which is often praised for spending as little as half as much per capita on health care as the U.S. Credit for this cost containment goes in large part to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. Americans should understand how NICE works because under ObamaCare it will eventually be coming to a hospital near you. …

“What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS. For example: …

“In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: ‘When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients.’

“NICE has limited the use of Alzheimer's drugs, including Aricept, for patients in the early stages of the disease. Doctors in the U.K. argued vociferously that the most effective way to slow the progress of the disease is to give drugs at the first sign of dementia. NICE ruled the drugs were not ‘cost effective’ in early stages. …

“This has medical consequences. The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.”

Editorial, “Of NICE and Men,” The Wall Street Journal, 07.07.09 

Even with critical details still missing, it is clear that the Democrats’ plan will cost too much and force too many Americans to lose their current care. The American people deserve better.

That’s why the Republican Health Care Solutions Group has unveiled a health care reform plan that will make health care more affordable, reduce the number of uninsured Americans, and increase quality at a price our country can afford. The GOP plan protects against the denial of care that would be inevitable under a government-run health care system, and ensures that Americans who like their current care can keep it.

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