RUSH: I want to move on to Obama’s next takeover of health care. He’s going to have a couple of meetings today, and after these meetings, it will be fixed. Health care will be fixed. Here is, after he participated in the roundtable with business leaders, about a dozen of them, Obama went out and said this.
OBAMA: The country is geared up. Businesses are geared up. Families are geared up, uh, to go ahead and start solving some of our extraordinary, uh, health care system problems. Yesterday we focused a lot on cost. Uh, one element of cost, uh, is that where companies are able to take initiatives to make their employees healthier, to give them incentives and — and mechanisms, uh, to improve, uh, their wellness and — and to prevent disease, uh, companies see their bottoms line improve. And so what we’ve done is to gather together a group today of some of the best practitioners, uh, of prevention and wellness — wellness programs.
RUSH: Now, I can’t cite the data to you now. A couple weeks ago or within the last two weeks, I read this, but there have been studies on all this ‘wellness’ business. Keeping people healthy, relatively healthy early on does not save a dime. It does not save a dime on health. All of this is a myth. But, you see, yesterday they fixed cost. See that? Yesterday we focused a lot on cost, and today we had providers in. Today we had the providers in. So we got the providers to go along with our reduced cost plans of yesterday, and, voila! Health care is fixed. Then he added this…
OBAMA: When you hear what Safeway or Johnson & Johnson or any of these other companies have done, what you’ve seen is sustained experimentation, uh, over many years and a shift in incentive instruct so that employees see concrete benefits as a consequence of them stopping smoking or losing weight or getting exercise; working with providers, uh, so that the provider incentives, uh, are aligned with the employee incentives as well and changing, uhhh, the culture of the company. Now, if we can do that in individual companies, there’s no reason why we can’t do that for the country as a whole.
RUSH: Well, sheesh! (laughing) I’m just… I’m at a loss. This is not an abstract theoretical argument here. This is absolutely… (sigh) (drumming fingers) It’s bull feathers. If we can change the culture of the company, well, then we can do that for the country. Change the culture of the company. Barack Obama, once again with his tentacles, is digging deep into the private sector to change the culture of the country. This is just absurd. ‘Employees see concrete benefits as a consequence of them stopping smoking or losing weight or getting exercise, working with health care providers so that the provider incentives are aligned with the employee incentives…’ What is this? This is gobbledygook! This is bureaucratese. This is utopian bull feathers. None of this can happen. This is not why we have medicine in this country.
These are the wrong foundations. People want health care ’cause they get sick. You can exercise all day long. You can diet all day long. You can do everything he just said and you’re still going to catch a virus or you’re still going to get in an auto accident, or you’re still going to get cancer! Something’s going to happen to you. You want to be about to… Look, fixing health care is simple. It is not complicated. It’s only complicated because the simple fix runs opposite in the direction everybody wants to go. The simple fix to health care — and I mean to say simple — is like it used to be, where the patient is the consumer. When the patient pays what it costs for health care, that’s when health care costs come down.
When somebody else is paying for it other than the patient, you can come up with all the incentives you want, and they aren’t going to matter a hill of beans. The biggest incentive to bringing health care costs down is if you pay. It’s the same thing keeping hotel costs down. You pay for the hotel room you can afford in the hotel your budget can afford. Right now, health care is priced so that hardly anybody can personally afford it. You think this is by accident? It by no means is by accident. It’s by design. Cutting the consumer, the patient, the sick person out of the equation, and farming the decision over cost and treatment either to insurance companies or the government and not the doctor or the patient?
Somebody tell me this makes sense. It doesn’t make sense in any way, shape, manner, or form. But you lure a bunch of consumers and patients into this because they think it’s all free. The company’s paying their health insurance or somebody else is paying the bills. They got a co-pay here, then they get all caught up in the fact that, ‘Well, it’s a preexisting condition. I can’t transfer the insurance.’ What a bunch of… What a mess. What an absolute gobbledygook mess. It’s so damn complicated precisely because people like Barack Obama have had their hands on the health care business since the sixties, and maybe even prior to that. Now, you’re probably saying, ‘But, Rush! But, Rush! How do you get it to the point where patients pay?’ Well, that would definitely be almost impossible to do now. I mean, we found a way to educate kids, right?
We found a way to take kids in poor inner-city schools and with a voucher program with their parents in charge of how much money they have to spend, send them to better private schools in Washington. Black kids, right? And we know that it worked. Guess what? Hee-hee-hee. Shutting down the school. President Obama is shutting down the school, ’cause it doesn’t fit with his image of what this country is all about. The private sector is not allowed to excel. The private sector excelling means that somebody’s getting screwed, in his world. The government in charge of everything means everybody gets treated fairly even if at the end of the day we are all treated miserably! So now we get all these ‘incentives.’ You’re going to have to lose weight, stop smoking, all this stuff, and you’re going to be incentivized to do that how?
Well, the businesses are going to be incentivized to cut costs. But you’re not paying anything anyway as far as you’re concerned. Your business owner is getting soaked, but most average Americans don’t think they’re paying anything. It’s a ‘benefit,’ and when all this doesn’t work, stand by for the next step: which is taxing the benefits that you get at your job, that are health care as income, imputed income. If your employer has to pay ten grand a year for your medical insurance, and your dental plan, and whatever else he offers you, you’re not taxed on that right now. The day is coming where you will be. I mean, it’s imputed income. You’re getting it. It’s transferred from one entity to you. It’s not a gift. Somebody is having to pay for it. So that will be the next thing to come down the pike.
RUSH: I found it. Here it is. It’s from the New York Times. It’s an op-ed piece from October 7 of 2008: ”Campaign Myth: Prevention as Cure-All’ — In a presidential campaign that promises straight talk and no gimmicks, why do both candidates champion one of medical care’s most pervasive myths? The myth is that like magic, preventive medicine will simultaneously reduce costs and improve health. … It may sound like common sense. But it is still a myth. The term ‘preventive medicine’ no longer means what it used to: keeping people well by promoting healthy habits, like exercising, eating a balanced diet and not smoking. To their credit, both candidates ardently support that approach. But the medical model for prevention,’ is not about that anymore.
‘But the medical model for prevention has become less about health promotion and more about early diagnosis. Both candidates appear to have bought into it: Mr. Obama encourages annual checkups and screening, Mr. McCain early testing and screening. It boils down to encouraging the well to have themselves tested to make sure they are not sick. And that approach doesn’t save money; it costs money. Increasing the amount of testing for an ever-expanding list of problems always identifies many more people as having disease and still more as being ‘at risk.’ Screening for heart disease, problems in major blood vessels and a variety of cancers has led to millions of diagnoses of these diseases in people who would never have become sick.’ I will bet you you’ve experienced this, because I have. You go into the hospital with an upset intestinal tract, and four hours later you’ve had three different tests in four different machines to figure out whether or not you got cancer.
The doctors do this out of two concerns. One, they want to find out what’s wrong with you, and, two, liability concerns. They’re afraid you’re going to sue ’em if they don’t diagnose the problem. None of this saves any money. In fact, it discourages a lot of people from going to the hospital with a problem, ’cause they know what’s wrong with them. I got an upset stomach; I got a blockage; I got something. Something’s wrong here. They don’t want to spend two days in the hospital missing work to get all the tests to find out what they already know ’cause they’ve had it before. The point of all this is it doesn’t save anybody money. All this preventative stuff, all this incentivizing, you can go out and do all the exercising you want; you can go out and do all the balanced eating you want. Go ahead and do that; they’re still going to tell you, ‘Go get tested.’ Test for this, test for this, test for this, test for this. Go get tested and you’re going to get diagnosed as, ‘Well, you’re showing a tendency here. Well, we got a little problem that we see here,’ blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Costs are gonna add up. Meanwhile, you’re doing everything Obama says. You’re exercising — and I’ll bet half of you aren’t going to do that, you’re going to stop smoking and you’re going to eat balanced meals and all this and you’re going to do this to make the company boss happy, the boss is going to make you do it to make the government happy. We’re all going to end up wearing uniforms here and we’re going to get memos every morning in our computers from Washington telling us what we have to do every day in order to qualify to be in their good graces.
RUSH: Bob in Columbus, Ohio. Hi, and welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Conservative Cincinnati Bearcat dittos to you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much.
CALLER: Hey, you don’t have to worry about a Democratic Congress taxing sugar, once they discover how unpalatable it’s going to make that Kool-Aid for their minions that they’ve been dishing out. That will be shelved. I want to get back to a point that you made that was a good one about the health care costs really reaching the level that they should be once a consumer pays, allowing free markets to work. About 70 years ago there was an association founded to pay for hospital costs only, that ultimately evolved into the Blue Cross association, the ultimate concept of insurance, a lot of people putting away a little money every so often into a bucket, then when someone got sick and had to go to the hospital, they used it. And the buckets were full everywhere. There’s a lot of reasons the bucket’s emptied, but one of the big ones is that insurance companies started to invoke a practice of medical underwriting so instead of just saying if you’re single, here’s how much it costs, you know, for a single policy each month or if you’re a family policy here’s how much it cost. They started asking a handful of questions and it got to be more and more intricate over the years as to what they would ask and how they would adjust the rates based on that, but when the premiums, the amount you paid for this coverage were simply based on whether you were single or family and certain guidelines were put into effect like, you know, you had to have 75% of the employees at a company participate, it worked out very well. And it’s a situation that could work out well again because it would reduce premiums, it would allow more people to be covered. It’s simply one that’s probably not being brought up because of the lobbying power of the insurance industry.
RUSH: Well, this is a toughie. All I know is that everybody involved on the provider and insurance side and the patient side hates the system. Everybody hates it. The only people who like it are the people trying to fix it and make it worse than what it is by building on what already exists that everybody hates. And by that I mean Obama relishes the opportunity to get his hands around this and make it single payer, government-provided, public option, no private option, that’s what they’re shooting for. You’re going to hear some Democrats stand up and say, ‘I will not stand for no private options being available.’ That’s just a smoke screen. They’re going for public option only, meaning registered government paid for, government this, you’re still going to have insurance companies, but it’s all going to be funneled and controlled by the government. It’s about control. It’s being sold to us on the basis that it’s streamlined, going to make it more efficient, going to make it cheaper. None of that will happen. Wherever this has been tried, Canada, Great Britain, Cuba, it doesn’t work. It’s a triumph of emotion over common sense to think that just because we’re gonna do it, the same way these people have tried it, it’s somehow gonna work. It’s not.
I would think everybody involved in this would love to get back to a system where it’s market driven, where the consumer, in normal, every day medical care, we’re not talking about catastrophic injuries, that’s where you need the big time insurance, auto accidents, catastrophes, major diseases that require a lot of hospitalization. But normal everyday health — when this broke down is when people demanded insurance for a $60 checkup. When every time you wanted to go to the doctor for a sore throat you wanted somebody else to pay for it, once that started, it was over. That’s the kind of stuff, if you just price it at a hospital room, just price it to what people can afford. But we’ve long passed that point in time. I mean, how many of you have looked at your hospital bill and you’ve seen a Band-Aid for, what, $150 bucks, five hundred bucks for a Band-Aid in Wellington. And you ask yourself, ‘How in the world can this Band-Aid cost $500?’
Well, there is an economic reason for it, and it is not greed. Because I’ll guarantee you the hospital charging 500 bucks is still losing money at the end of the year on gross operations. They still need to go out and find wealthy people to donate the such-and-such cancer wing or the such-and-such diabetes wing. Five hundred bucks for a Band-Aid. They are forced to charge that from people who can pay because of all the people who refuse to pay from illegal immigrants and others who refuse to pay at the emergency room. A Band-Aid costs $500 because not everybody’s paying for what they get. Plus, medical malpractice and all of these things get rolled in, tort lawyers. It is such a convoluted mess. And there is no fix that involves the biggest convoluted mess in the world, the United States government, getting its hands on it even more.
RUSH: Here’s Chris in Dayton, Ohio. Great to have you on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Yeah. Hi, Rush, thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: Great. I just wanted to kind of make a few points, but I wanted to disagree with how a lot of people or a lot of individuals compare ‘Obamacare’ to the Canada health care system, European health care system. I disagree. We don’t need to use that as an example. We have good examples here in America. Obama care is pretty much a single-payer system as it has been proposed. Well, we have something like that already in place. America pays veterans health care. We have a veterans health care system that is a single-payer system, regulated health care. If you want to see how special that health care is, all it takes is a quick trip down the medical health care center to sit in line, wait for your care, avoid being seen, see non-providers, and even then being refused care when the money runs out at the end of the fiscal year. The second example we have is also, we have a current health care system for the military. Several years ago they instituted something called TRICARE. If you recall, there was a guaranteed health care for retirees, and they basically reneged on that, and they said we had to go outside.
RUSH: Exactly right! Exactly. That is an excellent point, and I’ll add a third one. The VA is constantly complaining about what? Government promised and government-run health care. That’s an excellent point. You don’t have to go to Canada or the UK. It’s actually the point I’ve been trying to make. The people who have been running this already have broken it, and now they come along and, just like every other disaster, are claiming they’re going to fix what they broke, and they’re only gonna make it worse.