He cites the following language from a Ted Kennedy - Bob Shrum health care article as proof of his naive explanation and prognosis on rationing:
For example, in Medicare today, 18 percent of patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days--at a cost of more than $15 billion in 2005. Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don't reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we'll save billionsKristol finds this idea frightening, neglecting to note that health care insurers already practice forms of selective rationing all the time, but with their bottom line duty being profits, not maximizing the benefit of the health care with the costs.
He may or may not have a point with respect to the government potentially making too many decisions (which is part of why we recommend this) in what is otherwise a sea of misinformed conjectures, but contrast Kristol's analysis of how the government -- which already spends hundreds of billions a year on health care -- trying to save money, is bad, with an example of health insurer practices in order to save money:
Bayonne Medical Center filed a federal lawsuit yesterday accusing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey of intimidating patients into leaving the hospital early and avoiding its emergency room in an effort to save money.Here's the hospital --which also clearly has a vested interest in this -- spin on it:
The suit alleges Horizon routinely sent couriers to hospital bedsides to warn patients they could incur massive bills if they did not transfer out of Bayonne, which does not participate in the insurer's payment network. Hospital officials said the tactics violated state law and in some cases seriously jeopardized patients' health.
Here's the legal complaint filed by the hospital, against the insurer.
Bayonne Hospital Center and Hospital Patient File Federal Lawsuit to Protect Bayonne, New Jersey Residents From Life-Threatening Business Practices of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ.
Suit Charges Horizon with Systematic Attack on Emergency Care in Quest for Profit
Of course, with respect to Kristol's unsubstantiated and a bit hypocritical assertion that health care reform "puts us on a course of government rationing of health care," that same assertion was also aggressively postulated with respect to the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid over four decades ago.
Once again, we say the problem is over insurance, not the extent to which the government decides to foot some health insurance costs as an option for some otherwise struggling to do so.