I used to think I was in favor of every possible step to reduce the burden of government spending.
- Are agricultural subsidies wasteful and corrupt? Yes, so get rid of the Department of Agriculture.
- Is Medicaid spending out of control? Yes, so cap outlay growth and block grant the program to the states.
- Has NATO outlived its usefulness? Yes, so let’s save money and bring troops home from Europe.
But I confess I’ve come across a budget-cutting strategy that even I can’t support. And it’s not in the area of national defense or public safety, which even I agree are legitimate functions of government.
Instead, I’m talking about the government-run healthcare system in the United Kingdom, which apparently is bribing hospitals to make greater use of the “Liverpool Care Pathway,” which is the UK version of a death panel. Here are some jaw-dropping excerpts from the Daily Mail.
Hospitals are paid millions to hit targets for the number of patients who die on the Liverpool Care Pathway, the Mail can reveal. The incentives have been paid to hospitals that ensure a set percentage of patients who die on their wards have been put on the controversial regime. In some cases, hospitals have been set targets that between a third and two thirds of all the deaths should be on the LCP, which critics say is a way of hastening the deaths of terminally ill patients. At least £30million in extra money from taxpayers is estimated to have been handed to hospitals over the past three years to achieve these goals. Critics of the method warned last night that financial incentives for hospitals could influence the work of doctors.
The use of CQUIN payments to encourage the spread of the LCP through the wards and to persuade doctors to meet Pathway targets was revealed in answers to Freedom of Information requests. Among trusts that confirmed the use of targets was Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which said that in the financial year which ended in March the percentage of patients who died on the Pathway was ’43 per cent against a target of 35 per cent’. Over the year the Trust received £308,000 for achieving ‘goals involving the Liverpool Care Pathway’. Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust had CQUIN payments connected to the Liverpool Care Pathway almost halved after failing to reach targets.
Unless, of course, proponents of bigger government don’t think bribing hospitals to hasten death qualifies as a “scare story.” In that case, I’ll give them credit for being consistent, but only if the political elite has to live (or, in this case, die) by the same set of rules.
For some reason, though, I don’t think the Paul Krugmans, David Camerons, and Gordon Browns or the world will be subjected to the same treatment as the rest of us peasants.
And that’s also an issue with Obamacare. When push comes to shove, I strongly suspect the politically well connected somehow will avoid any of the headaches that are bound to result from that costly legislation.
If rationing is going to happen, I’d rather it be the result of markets rather than connections.