Well, the 2010 mid-term elections are over. And it’s still clear to me that democracies are wonderful but they suck when it comes to reaching consensus on critical issues like health care reform.
Once again, the Wall Street Journal, reiterates tired, trendy phrases for many of its readers. In today’s editorial–“the ObamaCare Crossroads–we read:
“In our world of infinite wants but finite resources, there are only two ways to allocate any good or service: either through prices and choices of millions of individuals or through central government planning and political discretion.”
Statements like this are not only incorrect. They polarize the American public. Congress, state governments, and our regulatory agencies have set guidelines and laws to protect citizens from those in health care and medicine who would do us harm: health insurance companies, drug manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, hospitals, physicians and other providers.
It’s not only legislation. Regulatory agencies license and examine doctors and health care facilities to protect the American public from sub-standard care.
Imagine if there were no laws, standards or regulations for highway or bridge construction. What if we allowed any construction company to determine its own standards of safety? Would this serve the good of all in the U.S.? What If a bridge collapsed or faulty highway construction resulted in auto accidents leading to human deaths? Is this acceptable?
Perhaps we should allow radio and television broadcasters to chose their own frequencies that cause reception problems? Do we allow this?
So how is health care any different? Today’s Journal also has a reprint of Milton Friedman’s WSJ article “A Way Out of Soviet-Style Health Care” in which he calls for “…the consensual relation between the patient and physician.” Friedman’s 1996 piece is a Marcus Welby, M.D. view of a health care world that no longer exists. Friedman’s suggestion for health care reform?
The best way to restore freedom of choice to both patient and physician and to control costs would be to eliminate the tax exemption of employer-provided medical care.
That’s not reform. It’s a Marcus Welby, M.D. fantasy world where kindly doctors and non-profit hospitals never seemed to bill for their services–a world of non-profit health insurance companies not beholden to stockholders, a dream world that never existed except on television.
If we followed Friedman’s advice, why not eliminate the deduction for mortgage interest and let the “free” market do its thing? While we’re reforming, how about eliminating ALL deductions and charge a flat 10% tax all income proposed in the past by William F. Buckley and others?
We don’t live in a nation where this is possible. Government exists not only to promote commerce but to protect us from those who would do us harm. That includes “health care” or more precisely “medical care,” controlled by a few for-profit insurance, drug and medical device companies that have driven health care costs into the stratosphere.
The Journal says: “So a vote for ObamaCare is also a vote against the vitality of American Capitalism.” We wouldn’t even need health care reform if American capitalism had done such an exceptional job offering affordable health care.
The system is broken. Yet support by AARP and the American Medical Association for proposed health care reform falls on deaf ears by U.S. Senators and Representatives who are only thinking of the next election and their own health care benefits.
The 1934 Communications Act that formed the Federal Communications Commission called for regulation of broadcasting “in the public interest.” It’s about time that Congress, insurance companies, drug manufacturers and the American public do the same.