October 30, 2009
Rethinking Health Care and HistoryBy Ben T. Briscoe
The congressional vote to "fix" health care is almost upon us. Right now, five bills -- two in the Senate and three in the House -- have passed their respective committees. Congress will most likely vote on some version of these bills next month. Should the legislation pass -- after more massaging and another vote by both House and Senate -- it will be forwarded to the President to sign into law.
This is a good time to review the health care debate leading up to this point. First, Obama declared that the nation's most urgent problem was that 45 million people do not have health insurance. Then someone pointed out that 15 million of those aren't Americans. When 15 million illegal aliens are subtracted, 30 million Americans -- or 10% of the population -- are left without health insurance. Then someone else noted that many of that 10% are temporarily without insurance because they are unemployed.
Others observed that many young people opt not to buy insurance because they feel they don't need it. And there are also those living way above the poverty level who just don't want to spend money on health insurance. So you net out all those folks, and you have about 15 million -- or 5% of the population -- without health insurance.
This is the point where the debate got murky. Somehow the Obama coalition (including major media) attempted to convince the American people that not having health insurance meant not having access to health care. But everyone has access to the emergency room and emergency medical service, even folks who are here illegally. More than 7,000 clinics all over the country provide health care to the uninsured. These uninsured are then charged according to their ability to pay. Hospitals, drug companies, and local governments also provide indigent care.
Some asked, is the level of medical care for indigents comparable to the care members of Congress enjoy at taxpayer expense? Probably not, but it's still better than what regular folks get in Afghanistan, Somalia, China, or Russia. And it can be even better than the care provided in places like Britain and Canada -- "free countries" with socialized health care. Currently in Canada, the average waiting time between the first visit to the physician's office and treatment is over 18 weeks! For many reasons, the American health care system is just about as good as it gets. But that may not be true for long.
Should we spend 83 to 130 billion dollars a year and allow the government to take over 16% of our economy to provide what the supposedly deprived population already has? Remember, the President promised to make this change without adding one dime to the deficit!
The US started down the socialized medicine path in 1967 by spending $2.7 billion on Medicare for roughly 7% of the US population. At the time, that expenditure was 1.7% of the total federal budget, or about $180 per person annually. Today, Medicare provides coverage for 15% of the population by spending 430 billion. That represents 10% of the total federal budget, or about $10,000 per person annually, which is almost twice the 1967 rate (adjusted for inflation). Historically, the government doesn't have a good track record on programs and spending, as you can see by its exponential growth.
Do we really need to spend billions more on a program that will, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office study, cover only about 10 million of the 30 million who are not insured? All this spending and fuss, and the government can't cover even one third of their target.
In 1961, Ronald Reagan gave a speech warning that socializing medicine was the quickest way to political socialism. He was dead-on in that observation.
The ObamaCare supporter should be asked the following questions:
1) Why is socialized medicine being "sold" as a way to make health care affordable without addressing the crippling costs of medical malpractice insurance?
2) Why is tort reform not a major part of any of these bills?
3) If coverage does not include illegal aliens, why are providers not allowed to ask proof of citizenship from the patient?
4) How does a public plan promote competition? There are over 3,000 health insurance providers today. When the government whittles this number down to one -- itself -- how is that competitive?
5) How can you provide health care to another 30 million folks without a massive increase in medical staff, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals?
6) How will government increase staff when it has pledged to limit pay and cut revenue to hospitals and doctors? Every other government provider of health care in the world must limit care. How will our system avoid limiting care? Unfortunately, our socialized health care system will have no choice but to limit health care. There will be death panels. Decisions that have historically been made by individuals, families, and their doctors, will now be made by government employees -- strangers who assess statistics, medical expediency, and finances rather than ethics, religious principles, and freedom.
So, 7) Will the health care legislation provide federally funded abortions?
8) Why does the Obama administration seek to silence or counterattack every organization and individual that has opposed the plan? Isn't debate a critical part of democracy?
9) Why is legislation to give Congress three days to read and comprehend what will be a 1000- to 1500-page bill being squashed by the Left? Thirty days is not enough to review a bill of this magnitude. I predict that it will be forced through in record time à la Cap and Trade in the House, where they had less than half a day before the bill came to a vote.
It's ironic that the same administration that pushed for more comprehensive consumer protection from the banking industry is dead-set against protecting the taxpaying consumer in its haste to get this freedom-destroying legislation passed.
Obama's health care reform is not about health care -- it's about control. This legislation will destroy what we have and we'll never be able to regain our current quantity and quality of service. Someone recently said that "just because there isn't blood in the streets doesn't mean we're not in the middle of a revolution." I'm worried that this is true and most of us don't realize it. Look up "revolution" in the dictionary and you will find that it includes the term "change."