Law school professors used to teach their students that hard cases make bad law. Now, budding barristers learn how to make bad law.
We should note at the outset that this description fits laws that Congress passed under both parties’ leadership such as the No Child Left Behind Act signed by the last president, which Accuracy in Academia covered extensively and critically.
Unlike NCLB, one of these questionable statutes making its way through the U. S. Senate right now does not deal with education though it was hatched by academics. “First and foremost, the Senate’s health care reform bill holds insurance companies accountable so they can’t drop you if and when you get sick—no matter how many times you get sick,” U. S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., promises in an e-mail blast. “It forbids insurance companies from denying you coverage for a pre-existing condition.”
“Under our bill, no one will be forced to sell their home and declare bankruptcy to pay for the treatment they need to stay alive.” Sen. Tester highlights the story of an unfortunate constituent who contracted breast cancer three times.
“The first two times, Mindy’s insurance paid for her treatment,” Sen. Tester recounts. “The third time, her insurance company called her and said, ‘We’re sorry, but none of it will be paid for.’”
“The underwriters, she says, determined her chances of survival were just too low.” Nevertheless, she was able to receive care that may be allocated out of existence in a European-style guaranteed medical care system.
In the U. S. today, 67 % of patients diagnosed with cancer survive while fully 80 % of women diagnosed with breast cancer live on. “The international comparisons are stark: while 60 % of men and 61.7% of women in Sweden survive a cancer diagnosis, in Britain the figure ranges between 40.2% to 48.1% for men and 48% to 54.1% for women,” Dr. Karol Sikora writes in a report for the Galen Institute. “This is in spite of the government massively increasing health spending since 2000 to bring the U. K. into line with other European countries.” Dr. Sikora, a practicing oncologist, is a professor of cancer medicine at Imperial College School of Medicine.
Think it couldn’t happen here? Think again. “Last month, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against routine mammography screening in women ages 40-49 ‘unless other considerations support offering or providing this service’ and against teaching patients how to perform a Breast Self Examination,” U. S. Rep. Phil Gingery, R-Ga., reported in a Galen Institute seminar on December 9, 2009.
“In both recommendations, support for these findings mentioned false-positives and over testing—strongly suggesting that cost was a major consideration when they judged the value of these services,” Rep. Gingery noted in a congressional hearing on December 2, 2009. The task force has been around since 1984 but sections of the health care bill now winding its way through Congress give its recommendations the force of law, Rep. Gingery said at the Galen seminar.
Rep. Gingery was a physician for more than a quarter of a century before entering Congress. On that same Galen Institute panel, attorney John Hoff, who served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, warned against the “static model that most of the world has adopted.”
“They’ve been able to do this because until now the U. S. has followed a dynamic model,” he argued. Hoff also served as the health attaché to the U. S. mission to UNESCO.
“Other countries have looked at health care expenses as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product,” Andrew von Eschenbach, M. D., pointed out at the Galen Institute symposium. “Most countries use those dollars to purchase existing drugs.”
“The U. S. uses that money not only to purchase drugs but to invest [in] and invent [new drugs].” Dr. von Eschenbach serves as an adjunct professor at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.