By Jack E. Lohman
“The problem with health care is that the government is already too involved.”
It’s easy to blame government bureaucrats, and sometimes they can be maddening. But when you look at all the areas the government stayed uninvolved, that strategy has proved rather dismal.
Are there cases where the bureaucrats failed rather miserably? Of course, and Katrina stands out as a bureaucracy gone awry. FEMA would have operated far more effectively had it been modeled after Medicare. It would have set the guidelines for all providers of local service, and then subcontracted the administration to one private contractor in each state to fulfill. In FEMA’s case those providers would be local Salvation Armies, churches, motel and grocery chains, etc.
In the case of Medicare, all physicians and hospitals are private local contractors with one private state contractor that administers it and mails out the checks. It is the most efficient health care system in the U.S., despite the meddling of politicians. They blew it big when they implemented a Medicare Drug bill that created a $780 billion giveaway to the drug industry that helps fund their elections. Politicians want “free market” medicine, except when it comes to Medicare negotiating for lower drug prices.
Yes Medicare is more costly on a per-patient basis, because it covers almost exclusively the seniors, handicapped and end-of-lifers the private free-marketers don’t want to cover. But fold in the youngsters and the “average” will be less than it is today.
Contrast that with the hands-off, free-market approach the Security Exchange Commission took with Enron, and the banking commission took with the savings and loan industry, and the more recent sub-prime mortgage fiasco that promises to bury our economy. On the latter we shouldn’t freeze the mortgage rates, Congress should force lenders to reset them to the original rate. Follow the money for your answer as to why they won’t.
In these cases our problem wasn’t too much government, it was not enough of the right kind.
Politicians were paid handsomely in campaign contributions to keep hands off, and to not implement safety rules or protections. They were paid to not protect the little guy but instead to let the CEOs have their way with the public. And they performed that superbly.
Under a properly run health care system, would we have an ex-CEO walking away with $750 million in stock options, as United Healthcare’s William McGuire recently did? I don’t think so. That’s free market run amuck.
The so-called free-market oil industry is another crock. Since the Arabic OPEC conspiracy has eliminated all pretense of a capitalistic free market, the U.S. should create its own energy supply with a taxpayer-funded exploration division drilling in the deep Gulf. Contract it to the lowest private bidder, if need be, but introduce some real competition into the system.
Politicians who are protecting the nation and its people, should not have their campaigns funded by the very special interests who want just the opposite. In any other country we’d call this bribery and payola. Only in America do we call it freedom of speech. As a business owner I would not have permitted an employee to take money from vendors on the side, and then give away company assets in return. Why do we allow politicians to do exactly that?
The 2008 elections promise to be the first-ever $1 billion presidential race, but that money is coming from the special interests seeking taxpayer-paid favors rather than the taxpayers. Public funding of this campaign would cost just $3 per American, and another $7 would cleanse the congressional campaigns. Where are our heads?
Do I trust bureaucrats or CEOs or politicians more? Yes, in that order. Bureaucrats may sometimes be aloof, but they are not on the take.