Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waiting ....

As my family awaits the overdue arrival of our son, I was pondering the health care debate in light of our time recently spent in and out of the hospital.

I found this from Dr. John David Lewis, an associate professor in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program at Duke University:

Aug 7, 2009
Guest Columnist, John David Lewis: There is no moral 'right' to health care

After 50 years of increasing government coercions, through a maze of agencies that control nearly half of all medical dollars, the costs of health care continue to skyrocket. The Obama plan, far from a socialist innovation, is merely an extension of the overall policy of government intervention we have embraced for three generations.

But rather than assume that more coercions are the answer, should we not at least consider that the source of the problem may be those very interventions? Shouldn't a serious discussion of the issue include that possibility?

Historically, the huge rise in health care costs began in the 1960s, when Medicare and other programs distorted prices by throwing billions of federal dollars into the industry under reams of new laws. Fiscally, Medicare is now approaching insolvency on a monumental scale.

To create another bureaucratic labyrinth now -- which, after juggling the figures, advocates are proud to say will cost less than a thousand billion dollars over 10 years -- is to add to the very cause of the rising costs. This all but guarantees an even greater crisis in the next decade. Economically, this is hard to dispute.

But economic arguments have not stopped the train to further government intervention, and we should ask why.

The answer is that the advocates of government medicine are upholding health care as a moral right. Desiring to mandate this "right" by law, they have been unwilling to face the cause-and-effect relationship between government actions and rising prices. That is because the moral goal of a "right" to health care has overpowered the economic arguments.

As a result, calls for more programs -- to enforce the "right" -- have continued, even as prices rise. Greater price distortions have fueled calls for more interventions, leading to higher prices and demands for more coercions. This vicious cycle is blinding people to the fact that the fundamental cause of the problem is the government interventions themselves.

Again, even a cursory look at the evidence shows the cost problem as beginning in the late 1960s, when the government set out to enforce this "right."

And if one thinks that England is health care utopia, one may not know the reality of six-bed wards in National Health Service hospitals, of patients waiting over a year for heart operations, or of refrigerated trucks in hospital parking lots to store the bodies during the flu season (all of which I saw when living there).

The "right" to health care in England is contingent on bureaucratic approval.

To address spiraling medical costs we should challenge the premises behind the government actions. The first premise is moral: that medical care is a right. It is not. There was no "right" to such care before doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies produced it. There is no "right" to anything that others must produce, because no one may claim a right to force others to provide it. Health care is a service, and we all depend upon thinking professionals for it. To place doctors under coercive bureaucratic control is to invite personal and national catastrophe.

The second premise is economic: that the government can create prosperity by expropriating billions of dollars from the most productive citizens. This is the road to stagnation and bankruptcy, not universal prosperity. The truth of this is playing out before our eyes, as medical prices balloon with every new intervention, and we face the largest deficits in human history.

If Congress wants to address health care issues, it can begin with three things: 1) tort reform, to end the ruinous lawsuits that force medical specialists into insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year; 2) Medicare reform, to face squarely the program's insolvency and its effect on prices across the board; and 3) regulatory reform, to roll-back the onerous rules that force doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies (who are pilloried for producing the care that many people demand as a "right") into satisfying bureaucratic dictates rather than solving patients' problems."

Read the article and the detailed analysis including citations from HR3200, click here and here.

As the head of a large household, I wonder if the "public option" will allow me to have more children ... or will they force us to stop, citing the carbon footprint of our already large family?

We'll resume the regularly scheduled programme of Photoshop stuff after the impending arrival ...

Until then, enjoy.

1 comment:

Doktor Jon said...

We could probably write a book on the pleasures and pitfalls of the UK's National Health Service, but for the moment at least, good luck for your new arrival!

Kind regards