Jack Wheeler’s ignorant health care reform proposal

I just found out about some Jack Wheeler dude who writes for To The Point, an “oasis for rational conservatives.”

He claims that a Republican senator asked for his health reform proposal. Too bad it’s remarkably ignorant.

Here’s my off-the-cuff analysis I shared with some Republican activists:

This is a colossally ignorant proposal.

“There are an estimated 10 to 20 qualified applicants for every vacancy available in U.S. medical schools.” Hogwash! Having known several applicants to medical schools, there are plenty of spots for qualified applicants. Even if many don’t get in, the simple answer is there isn’t enough capacity, so of course med schools are going to choose the best and brightest. I want to see more evidence of some conspiracy before I buy into this. Otherwise you’re diluting the quality of doctors.

I know some people at a major 4 year university who would love a med school partly because of the tidal wave of research dollars. But setting up a med school, especially when your university has no attached hospital, is so incredibly difficult as to possibly derail the rest of the university’s agenda.

“Why is there no shortage of chiropractors?” Because very little of chiropractic is medically proven. I prefer spending money on things that work, and I’ll best most Americans are the same way. I support your right to purchase ineffective treatment, but I oppose proposals like this that would legitimize it.

“For an average stay in a hospital, fifty to seventy-five percent of the charges are due to administrative costs.” No freaking way. One of his few concrete examples is “big, expensive” computer systems that are disproportionately expensive for little firms. As an IT professional, I can say this is categorically false. True, larger firms could have lower per capita IT costs, but that’s how almost anything works with efficiencies of scale.

“Three: Eliminate State Mandates and Regulatory Barriers on Health Insurance” Supposedly conservatives believe in the 10th amendment. Now reversing this stance? Sorry, can’t have it both ways. If you don’t like the policies, fight it on the state level. Don’t propose a whole new federal program.

“Four: Give Health Care Providers A Tax Credit For Charity Work [people who don’t/can’t pay for medical services]” Huh? Since when can’t businesses deduct losses?

“Restore the 100% Deductibility of Health Care Expenses” We already have that for the most part. Premiums are not taxed, and FSAs and HSAs fill in most the rest of the gap. It’s not perfect, but it covers a lot of the expenses for smart planners. And any amount spent over 7.5% of your income is deductible.

“Six: Reduce Malpractice Insurance Costs” Wow, you’ve unearthed 1% of health care expenses! WAY TO GO! (Note: it is a legitimate issue, but it’s not going to do much.)

“Seven:  Repeal the Kefauver Amendment” Most stupidity. This will legitimize ineffective drugs and drive up health care expenses for everyone. Say “hello” to insurance rate increases so it can pay for Dr. Simpson’s Healing Tonic snake oil!

“Eight: End the FDA’s War on Nutritional Supplements” The war is against quackery, like Linus Pauling’s vitamin C megadose hogwash or harmful supplements like ephedra.

Research is increasingly questioning the benefit of vitamin supplements. Also, our bodies are programmed by millions of years of evolution. The vast majority of us run fine on a balanced diet. There is no supplement concoction that makes a night-and-day difference in quality of life for the vast majority of humans who eat a reasonable diet.

Furthermore, he is using a straw man argument. There is no FDA campaign against vitamins C and E and selenium, but yet he invokes exactly that concept in the next paragraph.

“Nine:  Remove Government Restrictions Regarding the Importation of Foreign Drugs.” Guess where much of their drugs come from? There’s a reason it’s called “RE-importation.” And there’s not an infinite supply. If we seriously pursue this strategy, all that will happen is countries will prohibit drug exports to the US to preserve their cost structures. We need to instead examine and address problems with US drug policy that allows a 2-tiered system where we pay far more for drugs than the rest of the first world.

So let me loop back: should we allow importation of safe, effective drugs? Yes. Should we say it’s the fix to our excessive prescription drug costs? Heck no. We have to address the problem at its root.

“Ten: Allow the Purchase of Non-Controlled Medications Without Prescriptions” OK, this is about the dumbest idea in the stack. A great example is everyone will then start taking antibiotics without cause, and we’ll end up with a sicker population and more multidrug resistant bacterial infections. Oh, and health care costs will go up.

This is remarkably ignorant from a guy who claims to have a PhD.

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