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On the scrap heap

Written By: - Date published: 3:50 pm, August 15th, 2009 - 26 comments
Categories: health, human rights - Tags:

Call me old fashioned if you will, but I like the idea that reforms of government activity should be concieved and implemented by experts in the particular field in question. Which makes me wonder, why the hell has Tony Ryall appointed a financial guy, Murray Horn, to lead a ministerial review into the health system? What the hell would he, and other members of the review panel who mostly come from similar backgrounds, know about what makes for an effective health system?

Depends what you mean by effective, I guess.

To you and me, access to healthcare when we need it is a right, that we pay for with our tax dollars. The report (leaked from within the ministry) shows that to Horn et al, healthcare is about ensuring the supply of labour units (that’s ‘people’ to you and me) for business. Making people healthy is only ‘worthwhile’ as long as it means more cheap, effective labour:

“Spending health dollars on improving life expectancy is a worthy objective in itself but it will only be an ‘investment’ in growth if people also work longer.”

Now, it’s a long established part of ranking patients on waiting lists that age counts against you, after all a successful heart op could give a 40 year old another 40 years of life but only a handful to a 80 year old with the same condition. The health system should try to get the most bang for its limited buck. But National’s review goes far further. It says your economic value (to the system, to the bosses, to the god known as growth) is all that should matter.

It even suggests that getting rid of universial healthcare would be preferable, so as not to ‘waste money’ on people who aren’t contributing labour units but admits this is not possible:

“The desire for universal and equal access to tax-funded care makes it difficult to go too far in this direction (eg in favour of people of working age). Increasing the proportion of health-care funded in other ways might help, for example ACC has a strong focus on prevention and rehabilitation for people in the workforce.”

Welcome to healthcare under National. Designed by business, for business. Unless you’re a functional unit of labour, you’re not worth maintaining. Surplus to requirements. On the scrap heap.

26 comments on “On the scrap heap”

  1. bill brown 1

    So if you’re on a benefit do you get pushed down the list?

    How about a list of “productive” versus “unproductive” jobs –

    Engineer wins over politician?

  2. Ianmac 2

    They could charge fees up-front before the Hospital would operate. It worked before in the 90’s. It did work didn’t it? No? You mean it was like the USA model pay first, have Insurance or you are OUT! Oh darn.

  3. Daveo 3

    Careful Marty, you don’t want John Armstrong to accuse you of ‘finding fault with anything and everything the Key Government does while expecting your breathless critiques to somehow bring forward its demise’.

    Best you find something superficial to criticise Phil Goff about while slavishly praising John Key’s remarkable ambition for New Zealand. You might even get a regular column in the Herald.

    • ghostwhowalks 3.1

      Not as regular as it used to be. The real answer is that the Herald doesnt have space for in depth political news, writing stories based on court transcripts is so much easier and has a day by day narrative which means the reader comes back for more the next day

  4. ghostwhowalks 4

    I”t’s a long established part of ranking patients on waiting lists that age counts against you, after all a successful heart op could give a 40 year old another 40 years of life but only a handful to a 80 year old ..”

    This is wrong, as age doesnt come into it! Its the persons health at the time of operation that matters. Older people have poorer health and other factors mean they are not eligible while a 40 yr would most likely not have other factors , but obesity being one.
    But the short answer is that the wards are full of elderly people in their 80s having major operations, often their pulse rate is better than those who work in the ward!!

    This idea of saving money by not spending as much money in the last five years of life was looked at previously ( under a national government) but was found to be unworkable.
    Perhaps they have found a financial guy who will make it work.

    So much for including clinicians in decision making, or was that just spin from arch cost cutter Ryall. ( a prime example who spent last year finding superficial things to criticise labour for, but then thats what the newspapers wanted for quickie stories, now they tell us they want positive news !!)

    • Marty G 4.1

      really? I thought age was a factor (one of many) in ranking patients for the utilitarian reason I mention in the post and because higher age means less chance of a good outcome… could be wrong of course

      • ghostwhowalks 4.1.1

        My own family experience was the opposite of your conclusions. My father thought that in his early 80s his age meant he didnt qualify for public funded operations, but was told that wasnt the case. Its clinical criteria only .
        Ageism is out but fatism is in.

  5. ak 5

    Ya gotta larf. Populist sloganeering meets reality, and appointed puppets serve up the clangers. After years of demonising our “heartless” health system and its mythical army of thumb-twiddling bureaucrats, they come up with – wait for it – a whole new level of bureaucracy and a work-for-the-op scheme! Need a new hip? Sorry, Winnie’s mob: biketrack workers and children first.

    • ghostwhowalks 5.1

      Obamas grandmother had a hip replacement only days before she died, and the circumstances have been raised in the US healthcare debate

  6. Anthony Karinski 6

    It’s a cold and soul less ideology that assumes society is here to serve business rather than business being allowed as long as it benefits society. Unfortunately some of the Nats seem to think the former is the way to go.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      That’s true of National and ACT. They really do believe that society is here to service the business owners and shareholders.

      • Macro 6.1.1

        Isn’t it?? But surely our sole mission in life is to make the bosses happy – and when we can’t do that – well shouldn’t we all just shuffle off and die?

  7. kaplan 7

    I’ve had to read through this twice just to convince myself that I had read it right the first time. It turns out I had and to say I am disgusted is an understatement.

    That this kind of mentality exists offends me and should offend anyone who believes humans are more than just a part of ‘the machine’.

    The one positive I will take is the strengethening of my resolve to help remove these arseholes from power in 2011.

    I understand Ryall is on Q+A tomorrow. I suggest viewer feedback that asks some questions on this issue.
    Q+A Feedback/Opinion

  8. bobbity 8

    “The one positive I will take is the strengethening of my resolve to help remove these arseholes from power in 2011.”

    Remove who ….. dickhead bureaucrats producing cak reports on taxpayers money ?

    I was under the impression this kind of drivel is produced all the time for ministers to sift through, just look at the rubbish that comes out of treasury on a regular basis. I’d suggest you keep your powder dry until something is actioned by the government, who have a policy of no major changes to the health system despite it needing a kick in the pants here and there.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1


      “Keep your powder dry until the enemy fires his weapon”

      seems like shit advice to me.

      When someone runs something that you don’t like up a flagpole, chop it down.

      • Lew 8.1.1

        “Keep your powder dry until the enemy fires his weapon’

        Sort of goes counter to the dictum that you shouldn’t ever die with a round in your magazine.


  9. sk 9

    oh dear .. back to the 1990’s. Murray Horn is yet another example of the NZ right who can’t hack it in the real world. Ruth made him the youngest ever Treasury Secretary, and he ran an operation where candidates to work at Treasury were assessed by their politicial bias .. implemented by Mark Prebble of course . . slightly centrist and you were too left . ..

    So, off he went to ANZ where he was fired for running the NZ operations into the ground. The Aussies thought he was cr*p so posted him to Newcastle .. .

    And here he resurfaces in the JK gov’t as Health Czar ..

    Marty G, you insult financial guys by calling Murray Horn a financial guy .. He is a failed financial guy

  10. Michael 10

    Although I don’t think this review will have much of an effect, it’s exactly the reason why the US public opposes public healthcare.

    When they say “government death panels”, this is what they mean. When the government funds and provides healthcare, this is the result. Bureaucrats and politicians deciding who gets healthcare, when it should be individuals.

    If you want to avoid this kind of situation, then ACT’s healthcare policy is a good solution. Still taxpayer-funded, everyone has access to health care, but it’s the individual, not bureaucrats, that’re in charge of their health.

    • Lindsey 10.1

      As opposed to Insurance company death panels or bankruptcy death panels, or waiting for pauper hospitals death panels?

      • ghostwhowalks 10.1.1

        Someone has obviously never had a major car accident. They would find out how much they are in ‘charge of their car insurance’.

        Just having a fee for service hospital system adds 25% in costs of administration, and the hospital or clinic has the incentive to load up the treatment and not being an expert the person you rely on is the hospitals doctor.

  11. Well that would be out with all the single mums on benefit and their useless sprouts whom we all know would also end up on benefit all those useless grandparents who live on “our” tax money and all of those who don’t have low paying serfdom jobs for the money masters. Welcome to the new feudal age.

  12. Beyondthebeltway 12

    Social Darwinism from the iguanas at Treasury…….enacted by T Rex Tony

  13. Ms X 13

    So much for all the elderly people who voted the NACT govt in…..

  14. CMR 14

    On the scrap heap? Are you meaning Phil Gone-Off? Tonight’s poll results are interesting…

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