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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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Government run health care – a quack remedy (07/26/2009)
By John Edstrom

In attempting to sell the public on his version of health care “reform” the other day, President Obama resorted to a little anecdote which revealed a great deal more about his thinking than he could ever have meant, and should give anyone on the fence about this issue serious pause. At a press conference he discussed a hypothetical parent bringing a child with a sore throat to a physician: “Right now, doctors are forced to make a decision based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there...The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out...’” – regardless of whether the procedure is called for or not.

Obama portrays this crooked physician’s decision as being forced upon him by some fee schedule having to do with the big bad insurance company, but he in fact is describing a cynical and dishonest behavior motivated by greed. The assumption is that somehow, a government takeover of the health care system is needed to protect children from unnecessary surgeries performed by wicked, money-grubbing pediatricians. And no doubt, some of them do exist. But if polled, how many Americans would guess it less likely that a Washington politician would be dishonest, greedy, and incompetent, rather than the family pediatrician?

There is a profound disconnect here, with Obama presuming corruption where the average American does not. This would have to do with his lifelong (not very) immersion in the world of politics, in his case, Chicago politics – phew! His world view is one of profound cynicism, never mind the high-flown rhetoric.

This given, do we trust him and his cohorts in Congress to reform health care in America? They claim that they will introduce reforms that will control costs and improve health care, and want about a trillion dollars to give it a try. But what happened to the last trillion they were given? The stimulus, which was promised to keep unemployment at somewhere near 8%, is still mostly sloshing around in Washington, while the jobless rate is crowding 10% and threatens to go higher. It is not really pretended that this money is anything more than pork and boondoggle, but even if every nickel were sincerely aimed at job creation, what respectable economist believes in the old bilge of Keynesian pump-priming anymore? This money is going to have to be repaid by real people doing real work, and this huge debt is going to cripple their efforts for a generation at the least.

The inescapable conclusion is that Washington — Republican or Democrat — and certainly the bunch that has the wheel now, is incompetent to run an enterprise as vast and complicated as health care, and under no circumstances should be handed the funds to try. Given the looming bankruptcy of Medicare and Medicaid, and the quick and now widely acknowledged failure of the Massachusetts experiment in socialized medicine, who is loony enough to think the federal government is capable of making anything more efficient, economical, or effective?

Let the politicians come home for the summer and stay for good, rather than mess around with our health care.



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