Latest From the Front
There’s a war going on that affects every one of you. I speak of health care and its hostile takeover by one party in the most shameless perversion of democracy in our lifetime. Everything from earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis to Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga has pushed this topic off the front pages, but there’s a lot going on.
I attended a tea-party conference a few weeks ago and heard several speakers give updates on the pushback efforts going on. The Supreme Court will rule shortly on the constitutionality of the requirement to buy health insurance. As with an overtime hockey game, we know the final score (5-4) but we don’t know the winner. Never has the Constitution been interpreted to mandate participation in a marketplace. If the insurance mandate falls (it has already been ruled unconstitutional by Judge Vinson in Florida) the whole house of cards crumbles. The administration has already issued waivers to over 1100 of its political favorites, even individual businesses in Nancy Pelosi’s home district of San Francisco, making a mockery of a fiasco, if there is such an animal. One of the general principles which makes socialism anathema to most Americans is that the government gets to pick winners and losers, and the only thing new about this “waiver” scandal is its in-your-face hypocrisy. These techniques are right out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, Obama’s playbook.
Several of the speakers were from socialist countries. Sallie Pipes, a Canadian economist and author of “The Truth About Obamacare” was joined by an Italian-trained physician and an Israeli economist in warning of the mine field that is socialized medicine. As most such countries scramble to stay afloat and are looking at reforms to their antiquated systems through privatization, we, the United States are being dragged headlong into that same abyss. A judge in Ontario, in ruling against the ban on private medicine in Canada, memorably said, “Access to a waiting list is not health care.” The prime minister of Newfoundland, needing cardiac surgery, flew to Florida and had it done. “My heart, my money!” said the defiant Newfie when confronted by a hostile press on his return. We know that over 40% of Canadians on the waiting list for bypass surgery die before getting to the head of the line.
My son Steve just forwarded me a New York Times article, the gist of which is that doctors are becoming “less conservative” in response to the changing marketplace. It is truly sad that a once-respected newspaper regularly sinks to new lows in journalistic standards. First of all, doctors have been largely apolitical. The AMA, which is referred to in the article as if it carried weight, long ago ceased to speak for anyone but itself. Perhaps one in seven doctors belongs to it, and like most organizations that are not specifically conservative, it has become increasingly liberal over the years (that is known as Evans’ Law). Next, the Times based its premise on interviews with a handful of doctors who all agreed with its point of view. That is propaganda, not journalism. More important, the point really made is unspoken; the allegiance of the doctors has shifted from their patients to their corporate or government masters. I see it every day in my travels around the state. In an editorial I had published over 35 years ago I said, “When socialized medicine ensues, the patient will no longer be anyone special to the doctor and the doctor will no longer be anyone special to the patient.” Nothing I’ve seen since then has changed my concern. Pardon me for quoting myself, but I take no pleasure in having been correct.
Everyone I’ve heard or read recognizes that attacking and dismantling Obamacare is not enough. We must change our approach to health care, and there are a great many fresh ideas on the table. All will require political courage but I think they are achievable, obviously with new leadership. Congressman Paul Ryan has proposed among other sweeping reforms a voucher system for Medicare. It has been demagogued before the ink was dry, but it deserves consideration. No one over 55 would be affected and the safety net for the truly needy would still function. But by restoring market incentives, it would put the patients in the driver’s seat, encourage research, and give the doctors the prerogatives that only they should have. Conversely, continuing down the same blind alleys will stifle innovation, allow hospitals to rot as they do in socialist countries, and inevitably lead to rationing of care and deterioration in the quality of physicians. Understand, care is already “rationed”. Not everyone can get every procedure nor should they. But who decides? Kevorkian was monster enough; imagine what he could have done with a government ID!