Socialized Medicine, Revealed

While Michael Moore's new propaganda piece, Sicko, sings the praises of Cuba's health care system, story in yesterday's New York Post illustrates the harmful reality of socialized medicine. 

The story describes a study conducted by NY Congressman Anthony Weiner (D) concerning the availability of mammograms in New York City.  The study found that mammography centers in the city are closing at an "alarming" rate -- 67 sites, more than one-quarter the total, have closed since 1999 -- leading to a 171 percent increase in wait times.  The study found that most women in the city wait an average of five weeks for mammograms, while women in Brooklyn and the Bronx wait two months.

What is the cause of the problem?  Inadequate Medicare rates, which reimburse only $83 for a procedure that costs $125. 

Here we see one of the iron laws of economics in action:  Government price controls that are set below the market rate for a good or service inevitably lead to shortages.  In this case, Medicare reimbursement rates for mammograms that are below the actual cost of the service have resulted in the closing of mammography centers and longer wait times for patients.

Note the irony:  A policy -- low reimbursement rates for mammograms -- that presumably was intended to "make health care more affordable" and expand access to preventative treatment (on the "logic" that if something is cheaper, we can afford more of it), in fact resulted in just the opposite:  fewer mammograms, longer wait times, and poorer patient care.  This is the face of socialized medicine throughout the world.  And if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008, we will see much more of it here.  (Of course, as one of the elites in this country, Hillary will not suffer the harmful consequences of her own misguided policies.) 

According to the story, Weiner plans to introduce legislation to increase reimbursement rates for mammograms.  Weiner's intentions are good, but his commitment to government regulation instead of the private market is wrong, wrong, wrong. 

The actual cost of a good or service cannot be determined by legislative fiat.  Who believes, for example, that Congress can mandate that a Corvette sell for $5,000, without the manufacturer closing shop?  Or that a state legislature can mandate the maximum price per square foot for new home sales, without the housing market collapsing?  Well, the principle is no different when it comes to health care. 

The true price of trying to hold down the cost of health care through government regulation will be less health care, not more, with longer wait times and poorer patient care.  Think the United States Postal Service or your local Department of Motor Vehicles, only with white coats and stethoscopes.  Horrors!

Steven M. Warshawsky  smwarshawsky@hotmail.com 
While Michael Moore's new propaganda piece, Sicko, sings the praises of Cuba's health care system, story in yesterday's New York Post illustrates the harmful reality of socialized medicine. 

The story describes a study conducted by NY Congressman Anthony Weiner (D) concerning the availability of mammograms in New York City.  The study found that mammography centers in the city are closing at an "alarming" rate -- 67 sites, more than one-quarter the total, have closed since 1999 -- leading to a 171 percent increase in wait times.  The study found that most women in the city wait an average of five weeks for mammograms, while women in Brooklyn and the Bronx wait two months.

What is the cause of the problem?  Inadequate Medicare rates, which reimburse only $83 for a procedure that costs $125. 

Here we see one of the iron laws of economics in action:  Government price controls that are set below the market rate for a good or service inevitably lead to shortages.  In this case, Medicare reimbursement rates for mammograms that are below the actual cost of the service have resulted in the closing of mammography centers and longer wait times for patients.

Note the irony:  A policy -- low reimbursement rates for mammograms -- that presumably was intended to "make health care more affordable" and expand access to preventative treatment (on the "logic" that if something is cheaper, we can afford more of it), in fact resulted in just the opposite:  fewer mammograms, longer wait times, and poorer patient care.  This is the face of socialized medicine throughout the world.  And if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008, we will see much more of it here.  (Of course, as one of the elites in this country, Hillary will not suffer the harmful consequences of her own misguided policies.) 

According to the story, Weiner plans to introduce legislation to increase reimbursement rates for mammograms.  Weiner's intentions are good, but his commitment to government regulation instead of the private market is wrong, wrong, wrong. 

The actual cost of a good or service cannot be determined by legislative fiat.  Who believes, for example, that Congress can mandate that a Corvette sell for $5,000, without the manufacturer closing shop?  Or that a state legislature can mandate the maximum price per square foot for new home sales, without the housing market collapsing?  Well, the principle is no different when it comes to health care. 

The true price of trying to hold down the cost of health care through government regulation will be less health care, not more, with longer wait times and poorer patient care.  Think the United States Postal Service or your local Department of Motor Vehicles, only with white coats and stethoscopes.  Horrors!

Steven M. Warshawsky  smwarshawsky@hotmail.com