Recall that Barack Obama warned Americans in August 2009 that we need ObamaCare to protect us from doctors who choose amputations over treatment because they supposedly make more profit and lower their costs by conducting the surgery rather than treating the underlying diabetes. At the time, I pointed out that this was a particularly ignorant statement, given that endocrinologists don’t perform amputations, and that their incentives would not change at all if feet had to be amputated or not. The Daily Caller reports today that the Foot Bandits are actually those who have to pay for the treatment needed to save limbs — and in a government run system, such as the one in Greece, that means more feet on the chopping block:
This Saturday, one of Greece’s most respected newspapers, To Vima, reported that the nation’s largest government health insurance provider would no longer pay for special footwear for diabetes patients. Amputation is cheaper, says the Benefits Division of the state insurance provider.
The new policy was announced in a letter to the Pan-Hellenic Federation of People with Diabetes. The Federation disputes the science behind the decision of the Benefits Division. In a statement, the group argues that the decision is contrary to evidence as presented in the international scientific literature.
So what? The government, er, foots the bill. They get to make the call on what they want to spend money. Thanks to the nationalized health-care system, the Greeks don’t have any choice in the matter, except for the very wealthy who can afford to travel outside of Greece for their medical care and supplies.
In a free-market system, an insurer who made this kind of decision would see their customers move to the competition. In a system with third-party payers limited only to catastrophic health coverage, most diabetics would have the money necessary to buy their own footwear. In either case, it would mean that the patients and the doctors would make the decision on amputations, and not a government bean-counter looking to save a few bucks by maiming his fellow citizens.
On a related note, Rasmussen gives some good news on national unhappiness with ObamaCare. After two weeks of serious drops in support for repealing the bill, this week’s survey shows the gap returning to 16 points, 55/39. However, the underlying mood is less negative on ObamaCare than ever:
The majority of U.S. voters continue to favor repeal of the new national health care law but are slightly less emphatic about the impact the law will have on the country.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the new health care law. Only 39% oppose repeal. These figures include 41% who Strongly Favor repeal and 32% who are Strongly Opposed. …
But 41% now say the new health care law will be good for the country, the highest level of optimism measured since early July. Forty-nine percent (49%) still believe the law will be bad for the country, but that’s the first time that belief has fallen below 50% since March. In prior surveys, those thinking the law will be good for America have ranged from 32% to 41%; in those same surveys, 49% to 57% have predicted it will be bad for the county.
Last week’s survey put repeal at only +6, 50/44. Independents this week now favor repeal 56/36, where the previous survey had it at 51/44. The same 43% of indies still strongly favor repeal, with 13% now “somewhat” favoring it, up from 8% last week. One reason for this variation may be that jobs and economic policies have taken a more central position in the Republican midterm effort, especially taxes. ObamaCare gets somewhat less attention than it did this spring and summer.
The GOP still has to make its argument on ObamaCare in order to maintain momentum for its repeal. Otherwise, they may not find their mandate on firm, er, footing in the next Congress.