Americans should never have to endure anything like the British National Health Service 138

 Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) has been nominated to be the new secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Heritage Foundation has published an article by Robert E Moffit asking Senator Daschle ‘key questions’ and giving the ‘right answers’. The whole thing is worth reading. 

Here is an extract, relevant to the account posted below in 3 installment, Health of the nation by Madeleine Westrop, which provides a horrifying description of a patient’s experience at the hands of the British National Health Service:

Question #4: The British Experience with NICE

On page 127 of your book, you write, "In other countries, national health boards have helped to ensure quality and rein in costs in the face of these challenges. In Great Britain, for example, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is part of the National Health Service (NHS), is the single entity responsible for providing guidance on the use of new and existing drugs, treatments, and procedures." If that British agency determines that a treatment is cost effective, it must then be available within the NHS, but it also denies reimbursement for treatments, making them practically unavailable for patients. Based on your assessment of the record of NICE, would you like to see similar results for doctors and patients in the United States?

Answer. The right answer is that Americans should never have to endure anything remotely like the centralized, bureaucratic health care decision-making process that characterizes the British National Health Service.

Increasingly, the British media is reporting on the consequences of the role of NICE, and those results are nasty. For example, The Telegraph of London reports that NICE denied access to Velcade, a new drug for the treatment of cancer.Jacky Pickles, a 44-year-old mother with the disease, made a direct plea to Britain’s health secretary for coverage of the medication. Ms. Pickles, working in the British system as a midwife for 25 years, said, "I am going to give them the last years of my life. I’ve got to go to work in a Health Service that won’t support me when I most need it. I have given my life to the NHS, but it is a system that won’t give me something I need to save my life." Britain’s health secretary would not intervene to help Ms. Pickles, and NICE officials refused to comment, noting that while the drug for cancer treatment is "clinically effective" compared to chemotherapy, they deemed it not to be "cost effective." If members of the incoming Administration and the Congress really want such a system, they should thoroughly brief ordinary Americans what it would entail.

Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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