Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was in Louisville Saturday night stumping for socialized medicine with an analogy that doesn’t hold up under any serious scrutiny:
“Elders called on President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to overhaul the health-care system to provide coverage for all, despite the potential cost to taxpayers.”
“”They say we can’t afford it,” she said, when “in one month we got $700 billion for Wall Street.””
Right. And how well is that working out so far, Joycelyn?
Besides, as the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon points out, we already have enough government control of healthcare to see widespread negative effects:
“Consider two distinguishing features of socialist economies. The first is that the government decides what individuals may produce, what they consume, and the terms of exchange.”
“That is largely true of America’s health care system. Government controls production and consumption by determining the number of physicians; what services medical professionals can offer and under what terms; where they can practice; who can open a hospital or purchase a new MRI; who can market a drug or medical device; and what kind of health insurance consumers may purchase.”
“Government bureaucrats even set the prices for half of our health care sector directly, and indirectly set prices for the other half. When you read about Medicare over-paying imaging centers and hospitals, or that it’s impossible for Bostonians to get an appointment with a general practitioner, it’s largely because the bureaucrats got the prices wrong, and those rigid prices do not automatically eliminate shortages and gluts like flexible market prices do.”
“A second feature of socialist economies is that there is little incentive to make careful economic decisions, because government has put everyone in the position of spending other people’s money.”
“Canada may have the most heavily socialized health care system in the advanced world. Yet America’s system is as much a tragedy of the commons as the Canadian system, where health care is ostensibly “free.” In each country, only about 14 cents out of every dollar of medical spending comes directly from the patient.”
“How can America’s health care system be “socialized” when we rely on the private sector more than any advanced nation? Because it doesn’t matter whether the dollars and the hospitals are owned publicly or privately. What matters is who controls how they are used.”
Just as the banking bailout shouldn’t persuade anyone to further expand government’s role in healthcare, reality should inform us to pursue free-market reforms instead of continuing to hope that a little bit more socialism will suddenly start to work.