In a recent column, Jack Bernard, a self-described “Republican” retired health care executive, was “disconcerted by the ideological free market rigidity” of Republican presidential candidates as it regards health care.
The retired “Republican” executive, among other things, decried Rep. Michele Bachmann’s alleged tarring of ObamaCare as a “socialized medicine plot.” His solution is simply “to copy the health care of other developed (socialized) nations” and use more “regulatory authority to cover everyone and hold down costs.”
He attributes the problems of health care to the free market. He should know better. Today’s medical care is largely under managed care, already highly regulated under a collectivist ethic, whose raison d’etre is to contain costs, enlarge the coffers of the managed care entities — and the individual patient be damned. And as far as Medicare, we were forced to contribute; as to the VA, the veterans also prepaid with their service, blood and lives.
If we had a truly free market in medical care, unfettered economics would have decreased cost via competition as well as increased access, either privately or through charity, as it had done prior to World War II.
Beginning with the exemption of insurance companies from anti-trust laws and the tying of health care to place of employment; the inception of Medicare and Medicaid, which like it or not are (and will) remain in place; the Nixon-Kennedy cooperation (1973) in establishing HMOs as state policy with tax breaks (that did not reach fruition until the 1990s) -- all attest to the fact that we only have a partially free market in medical care. Nevertheless, it is still the best system in the world.
ObamaCare (2011), another attempt at HillaryCare (1993), is one more giant step toward the implementation of even greater government involvement in the medical marketplace and magnification of government regulatory authority — all at the expense of sacrificing individual patient care and what remains of the patient-doctor relationship.
This new version, ObamaCare, prominently includes compulsion and fines to make all Americans submit to a public-private system, managed care in cahoots with government — in which health care executives make a good living, while having a captive population with less and less freedom to choose. Once in place, rationing then would become more and more commonplace, as in the other “developed countries,” such as Canada and the United Kingdom.
The managed care executives in cahoots with government bureaucrats both win because rationed care means more profits in the coffers of the managed care entities and in the pockets of the managed care CEOs.
The government wins because it can then claim it has reduced costs and achieved universal coverage. The doctor and the patients lose because of the loss of the autonomy of the former and the loss of choice in the latter.
ObamaCare, like HillaryCare, creates another unholy partnership of corporate entities with government bureaucrats setting compulsory public policy at the expense of the captive patient population. Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist, referred to this relationship as corporatism. I call it Corporate Socialized Medicine.
The direction in which we are headed is leading us relentlessly toward the destruction of still the best medical care system in the world for the higher purpose of the state forging another keystone in the arch of compulsory socialism, ObamaCare.
Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is a retired Mercer professor and neurosurgeon living in Macon.
This commentary was published in The Macon Telegraph on September 22, 2011.
Copyright ©2011 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.