A physician who is a frequent reader of this blog – and of other media – wrote the following note to me:
“This one from WSJ just left me speechless. And I mean speechless. Wow.
Can you clip the ACA, device tax, Medicare cuts, AHRQ, IPAB and pump up proton beam therapy in one shot–the latter being center of story? Yup. “
Let me explain his acronyms:
He saw an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, “A Parable of Health-Care Rationing.”
Read it and judge for yourself. Excerpts:
When a provision of ObamaCare takes effect in January, IBA (a Belgian manufacturer of proton beam therapy devices) will face a fresh challenge: a 2.3% tax on medical-device sales. But the new tax still won’t pay for the millions of Americans who will gain or switch to publicly funded insurance. That’s why the government needs $716 billion in Medicare cuts, and why the health-care law creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board to help decide which treatments are worth what for whom.
A recent slew of government-funded studies helpfully suggest that Americans don’t need nearly so much health care. In April, research contracted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that “proton therapy does not appear to provide additional benefit” against prostate cancer, which accounts for about half of all proton treatment.
Other studies disagree, as do online testimonials from men who have received the treatment. At any rate, (3 execs from 2 proton device manufacturers) all say they’re not scared of rationers or more studies, to which their companies are contributing.
“I sleep well at night knowing protons are fundamentally better to treat cancer than X-rayssubstantially better, when anyone takes the time and effort to study it,” said (one proton device manufacturer exec).
But while he praises the “good intentions” behind ObamaCare, “the countervailing factor is that it’s pretty expensive for everyone to be covered, and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the government to look for ways to cut costs. Down the line, someone’s going to have to pay the piper.”
For their part, (IBA execs) are excited about IBA’s latest offering, which will make cost-cutting somewhat more feasible: the ProteusONE, powered by a cyclotron weighing 35 tons versus the previous 220-ton model. The system will run about $30 million; the older version starts at $45 million.
I’m on the road today and can’t devote much more time to this myself for now.
Talk amongst yourselves.