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Let Them Go Without Health Insurance Because There Might Be Rationing For The Rest Of Us

Reported by Guest Blogger - November 25, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

On Saturday's (11/21/09) Forbes on Fox, the first segment featured fear mongering about rationing in the health care reform bill. As usual, there were no experts on to discuss the contents of the bill or about the current state of health care insurance in America. Instead, the “free marketeers” on the panel argued that there’s no need for reform because anyone can go to the emergency room. As proof that there’s not a problem, host David Asman said his wife shared a beautiful hospital room with a homeless person. With video.

At the beginning of the segment, Steve Forbes said he had uncovered rationing “hidden” in the current health care bill. "It's about payments for costly procedures, which is another form of rationing. They have this in England, a thing called NICE."

Asman said, "It's an ironic acronym there."

Forbes continued, "It puts a $45,000 price tag. If your care costs more than that, just put the tag on your toe… Government can restrict health care supply, it can ration it, but it can't increase the supply."

"They do it in England, so probably they’ll do it here if we get national health care," Asman said.

At least there was more than one progressive voice on the panel. Neil Weinberg said, "I can't help but notice that the people who are arguing¬ most vociferously for the scare tactic that rationing is going to get between you and your doctor, these evil bureaucrats, these are all the people who just happen to have health insurance. Why don't we ask the 40 million people in this country who have no health insuranc¬e about rationing? They really know what rationing is."

Elizabeth MacDonald said, "It'll cause more rationing… The problem is that government is responsible for half of all the health care spending in this country, Medicare and Medicaid, and those costs are zooming towards 50% of GDP by the year2040. But the problem is… who decides who gets what care? In Britain, Steve is right, they’re denying care for cancer, for MS, for leukemia treatments, for blindness. Women are being denied coverage for pap smears in Britain, and they're suing the government because they're getting cervical cancer… Who appoints these people on the board, Charlie Rangel, James Traficant… William Jefferson, these corrupt politicians?"

Comment: Traficant isn't in Congress anymore, Liz.

Quentin Hardy had the best line. "Got to bore you with some facts. Section 2, Requirement 1A, Subsection 2: The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care." Hardy added, “Capitalism is based on rationing. Resources are always scarce. They have to be apportioned intelligently. We actually need to figure out how to make things better and innovate… We don’t do it well in this society.”

Mike Maiello said, "Your private health insurance company has a commission within it, right, of people, you don't know who they are, who are making decisions about what that insurance company will and will not cover and they can get between you and your doctor."

Asman said, "You can't add 31 million more people to a health care system with a finite number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals without having more rationing."

Steve Forbes said, “We don’t have real free enterprise in health care today… We have it in parts of it. But that’s the reason why you don’t get increased supply of health care.”

MacDonald said, "Who cares that they're saying they're not going to ration care?" She later said that health care is not being rationed"to zero" now for those without health insurance because "they go to emergency rooms and get health care from hospitals. They're not rationed to zero."

Asman added, "Not only emergency room... My wife was in a beautiful room up at one of the hospitals in New York, with a view of the river. She was sharing that room with a homeless woman."

Quentin "I think Steve and Liz are remarkably non free market here. You seem to think when you go to an Emergency Room that cost doesn't appear anywhere. Rationing exists."

MacDonald dismissed that with, "You're distorting the argument Quentin as usual."

As Weinberg suggested, if any of these people lost their job and/or their health insurance, or if they became seriously ill and discovered just what kind of rationing they are already subject to, I wonder how quickly they might change their tune.

Editor's note: The segment is presented in two parts. My recorder missed part of the beginning. Media Matters uploaded the first part of the discussion.