Friday, 02 April 2010

England's Version of Obamacare

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obamacare europeRasmussen Reports show that a whopping 54 percent of Americans are still against the healthcare reform, while 40 percent are in favor of the passage. Opponents are fueled by a variety of reasons, particularly the cost of the plan, but no reason is perhaps as convincing and terrifying as evidence that Obamacare is doomed to fail. The condition of the National Health Service (NHS), England’s health care system, which is similar to that of Obamacare, is indicative of the future of America’s health care, and it is frightening.

On March 26, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph exposed secret government plans to cut $20 billion in health care, which will ultimately cause tens of thousands of NHS jobs to be lost, hospitals to close, and patients to be denied treatments. The proposed cuts emerged as emergency budgets were calculated by health chiefs and can be found in the internal NHS documents, which have been uncovered by The Daily Telegraph.

According to The Daily Telegraph, “The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacement could be stopped.” Unfortunately, the final details will remain relatively speculative until autumn when the plans will be announced, conveniently scheduled to come after general elections.

On March 6, published an article by Pippa Kelly, who told the story of how her father was victimized by NHS. According to Kelly, her parents worked hard their entire lives and accumulated a substantial amount of savings, but had to spend nearly 300,000 Euros of their own money on her father’s healthcare after he suffered a series of strokes that required a great deal of treatment. Once his savings dwindled to below the 23,000 threshold, he qualified for state help. Kelly was advised that her father qualified for non-means tested NHS funds known as “continuing healthcare,” which, according to Kelly, was “a highly contentious form of state aid for which it seems almost impossible to qualify.”

To qualify, Kelly’s father needed to be assessed, and with her father bed-ridden, tube-fed, and sleeping much of the day, she believed the assessment would end in her father’s qualification. How wrong she was! The assessor purposely showed up when Kelly was absent, despite Kelly’s request to be present, and claimed that Kelly’s father was alert, cogent, and discoursing on Shakespeare (simply because he mentioned that one of his nurses shared the name of a Shakespearean character).

Kelly asked for a second assessment, for which she was present, and was able to witness first-hand the level of humiliation to which assessed patients are demeaned. Kelly describes the experience. “It was both distressing and utterly demeaning that I was now being forced to itemize his many incapabilities and frailties to justify the payment to which he was palpably entitled.”

After a long appeals process, Kelly’s father was finally granted the funds for his healthcare, with no apology for the previous decisions or explanations for why he suddenly qualified. The funds made him eligible to receive treatment while in the comfort of his own home, and the family was assured they would received back-dated payments to the first time he was wrongly assessed.

A mere four months later, however, Kelly’s father died. No such back funds ever appeared. Kelly explains, “Dad’s death leaves his flat empty and denies Mum the social services contributions for which she had recently become eligible. So far she has spent 176,000 Euros of her own money on nursing home fees of 3,200 Euros.” Though her mother suffers from severe dementia, rendering her unable to speak, walk, or eat without aid, she has been denied for state funds as well. And so the cycle continues.

Dying hospital patient calls police, begging for water denied by nurses

In another article published by,, Alastair Jamieson covers a horrific story of a 22-year old man named Kane Gorny who died of dehydration while in the hospital, despite repeated requests for water that were unheeded. (see: Police probe death of hospital patient who begged for water).

The same 22-year old “was not given vital medication after an operation at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London," according to his mother.  Mr. Gorny was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the treatment he received caused his bones to become brittle. He was hospitalized for hip replacement in May 2009, but was not given the drugs he needed three times daily to regulate his hormones.

Mr. Gorny’s mother, Rita Cronin, explains that her son become severely dehydrated but was denied water by hospital staff. Eventually, Mr. Gorny became angry when his requests were continually denied and the nurses called for security to restrain him. The situation became so severe that Mr. Gorny called the police to tell them that he was dehydrating and desperately needed water. When the police arrived, hospital staff assured the officers that Mr. Gorny was well, just “badly behaved”.

Apparently he was not fine, since he died of dehydration some time later. Jamieson reveals, “A coroner has such grave concerns about the case that it has been referred to police who are investigating Mr. Gorny’s care.”

This is what Americans can look forward to under American Obamacare. Just like Social Security and Medicaid were fallible, with the cost and quality grossly underestimated and overestimated respectively when the plans were introduced, so will be Obamacare.

Photo: AP Images
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