Monday, November 7, 2011

Rationing Comes to Capitol Hill

Later today, the Alliance for Health Reform hosts a briefing with the CEO of Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).  Its acronym notwithstanding, NICE has proven to be anything but for British patients – denying access to important life-saving, and life-extending, treatments based solely or primarily on their cost.  (A series of examples can be found in this one-pager.)

Today’s briefing is being sponsored by the prominent liberal think-tank the Commonwealth Fund.  In providing intellectual support for Obamacare’s big-government approach to changing the health care system, Commonwealth has published a series of papers on “Realizing Health Reform’s Potential.”  Apparently Commonwealth may also believe that realizing the potential of health “reform” also involves denying treatments to sick patients because government bureaucrats deem them too expensive.

It’s also worth noting that un-confirmed CMS Administrator Donald Berwick – whose controversial views about “rationing with our eyes open” have made Democrats afraid to even consider his nomination – has also asserted that NICE and other similar rationing bodies

… are functioning very well and are well respected by clinicians, and they are making their populations healthier and better off.  Nor are their policies resulting in injury to patients in any way like what is being speculated here in the United States.  These organizations have created benchmarks of best practices that we could learn from and adapt in this country.

Here are some examples of NICE’s “best practices” in action.  While reading them, it’s worth taking a minute to stop and consider that one of Washington’s most prominent liberal think-tanks wants to hear more about this model of cost-based rationing – and that an unaccountable and unconfirmed bureaucrat managing a budget bigger than the Pentagon’s has stated he wants to make this model of rationing a reality for American patients.