Government-Run Healthcare During COVID-19 | Citizens Against Government Waste

Government-Run Healthcare During COVID-19

The WasteWatcher

A November 2, 2020 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial, “Europe’s Covid Hospital Lesson:  How Government Health Care Has Led to Funding Caps and Too Few ICU Beds,” provided an interesting analysis that has likely gotten lost in the uproar over the presidential election.  But now that the Democrats are examining the fact that there was no Blue Wave, the Senate will likely remain in Republican hands, and the House of Representatives came very close to flipping to the GOP, they should heed the editorial.

A Washington Post November 5 article reported on a discussion among the House Democratic caucus about the recent election results and its meaning.  The article said, “an angry dispute erupted among House Democrats on Thursday, with centrist members blasting their liberal colleagues during a private conference call for pushing far-left views that cost the party seats in Tuesday’s election that they had worked hard to win two years ago.”

What was a chief complaint?  Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), said “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again … We lost good members because of that …”

The WSJ writes how there is another lockdown in Europe due to COVID-19 as the “virus surge threatens to overwhelm their hospitals, which even before the pandemic were sick and malnourished.  This is a side effect of government-run health care and a warning to the U.S.”  In other words, socialistic healthcare is even worse during a pandemic than it would be otherwise.

According to the Journal, half of the ICU beds in France and two-thirds in Paris are filled with COVID-19 patients.  President Emmanuel Macron said that by mid-November these critical care beds will be at full capacity with 9,000 patients.

But it is not just France that is experiencing these dangerous capacity problems; similar problems exist across Europe.  Says the Journal, “The Netherlands is sending some patients to Germany, but Chancellor Angela Merkel warned last week that ‘if the tempo of infections stays the same, we will reach the capacity of our health-care system within weeks.’”

The Journal admits that many U.S. hospitals are also experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and additional hospitals could be dealing with a similar high capacity situation, but U.S. “hospitals in hardest-hit regions currently have far more capacity than those in Europe.”

For example, according to the Journal, “Covid patients occupy 27% of ICU beds in South Dakota and 38% are still available.  Virus patients take up about 40% of hospital beds in El Paso – still less than in Europe’s hot spots.”  Other states, like Texas, experienced a surge in the summer but have extra capacity now.

And while Europe is not performing elective and preventative procedures because of the surge, America’s hospitals are continuing to perform these important procedures for non-Covid patients, including in the hot spot areas.  Not carrying out these procedures could delay addressing serious illnesses, like cancer or heart disease, leading to deaths months and years later.

So, what is the problem in Europe?  Their hospitals have never had enough beds.

The Journal writes, “According to an August study in the Journal of Critical Care, the U.S. has 34.7 ICU beds per 100,000 population compared to 29.2 in Germany, 15.9 in Belgium, 11.6 in France, 9.7 in Spain, 6.6 in the U.K. and 6.4 in the Netherlands.  Hospitals in Europe’s national health systems operate under global budgets that keep a tight cap on hospital funding.”

Appropriate funding to meet nationwide healthcare needs has always been the problem with socialistic, government-run health systems.  The government limits funding and rations care as a matter of course, causing long waiting times for important procedures.

The Journal notes that during the earlier surge of COVID-19 in spring, a lot of care was rationed, especially for the elderly.  They write, “Older and frailer patients were denied admission to Italian ICUs.  The Sunday Times reported last week that U.K. patients over age 80, and some over 60 with underlying conditions, were left to die.  Patients over the age of 80 made up 60% of the U.K.’s deaths, but only 2.5% of those in this age group who were hospitalized received intensive care.”

Citizens Against Government Waste, along with dozens of free-market, small government, fiscally conservative groups, have long opposed government-run healthcare precisely because it uses price controls and rations care to keep costs down, destroying innovation in the process.  Yet, 50 percent of the House Democratic caucus supports H.R. 1384, “Medicare for All,” a socialistic, government-run healthcare plan that would outlaw private health insurance and institute price controls.

The Journal ends the editorial with, “The American left has long idealized Europe’s government-run health care because it’s less costly, but patients pay a high price.”  It appears that some Democrats have learned that socialism is not a winning issue, but they will still push socialistic policies like Medicare for All, even if they call it a public option or something else.  It will always be the wrong solution to the nation’s healthcare needs.

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