Friday, April 17, 2009

On Doctors Who Support Government-Run Healthcare

In a biting editorial, the Wall street Journal documents the critical state of Republican Mitt Romney’s universal healthcare plan he imposed on Massachusetts. The journal stated;

In Massachusetts's latest crisis, Governor Deval Patrick and his Democratic colleagues are starting to move down the path that government health plans always follow when spending collides with reality -- i.e., price controls. As costs continue to rise, the inevitable results are coverage restrictions and waiting periods. It was only a matter of time.

They're trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget.

Like gamblers doubling down on their losses, Democrats have already hiked the fines for people who don't obtain insurance under the "individual mandate," already increased business penalties, taxed insurers and hospitals, raised premiums, and pumped up the state tobacco levy.

The Journal points to the deception socialists use to “sell” Americans on universal healthcare. A dictatorship is a dictatorship, regardless of whether one chooses to call it that. And slavery is slavery. And lying is lying. The Journal doesn’t use those terms, but;

The real lesson of Massachusetts is that reform proponents won't tell Americans the truth about what "universal" coverage really means: Runaway costs followed by price controls and bureaucratic rationing.

In the Opinion Journal Forum, Steve Brougham, MD, left two lengthy commentaries. He begins with these statements;

"Interesting article, medical insurance reform is key to fixing the system. Personally, I support the US developing a “universal” single payer system a la Canada and the UK."

One of the distressing facts about the political direction of American medicine is the large number of doctors who support some variant of government control. I’m not talking just about professional organizations like the American Medical Association, which have long been dominated by Left-leaning leaderships. I’m talking about rank-and-file doctors.

As a lay person, I have wondered about doctors who support some form of socialized medicine, such as the single payer system advocated by Dr. Steve Brougham. What would make a doctor want to sacrifice control of his career, his judgement, and his profession to the dictates of government bureaucrats wielding arbitrary powers? I suppose doctors that do have varied reasons…some innocent, some not. Here are a few of my suppositions.

Perhaps some doctors do not understand the free market alternative to our current system, and see total government control as an undesirable but necessary evil.

Perhaps some may want to take the intellectually lazy career path and avoid the rigors of the free market. They would rather come to work every day, picking canned, off-the-bureaucratic-shelf solutions to their patients’ healthcare problems in exchange for some guaranteed unit price from a central governmental authority. (This is what philosopher Leonard Peikoff identified as the “new bureaucratic doctors” practicing “assembly-line medicine”. See his essay “Medicine, The Death of a Profession” in The Voice of Reason, page 299).

Some may not like having to deal with patients who want to exercise their right to act upon their own judgement by demanding, say, a PSA test. They would rather deny him that right by imposing the “rational” dictates of some unknown central planner. This was something that concerned Dr. Brougham, who simply advocated establishment of a system of “evidence based medicine” as a means of “cost containment”. He is talking, of course, about “price controls and bureaucratic rationing”.

Much of the medical profession, I suppose, sees a government-run health care dictatorship as inevitable, and believes that the “practical” course is to make a deal with the devil at the expense of their professional integrity.

Some may be motivated by a desire to help those who cannot afford adequate healthcare, but would rather avoid the responsibility of deciding when, how, and in what capacity to extend charitable care to their indigent patients…by forcing others to foot the bill for their compassion through taxes.

There are also undoubtedly many doctors who are egalitarian ideologues who don’t like the fact that some people can afford to pay their own way and some cannot, and thus seek to impose “social justice” at the expense of actual justice.

Whatever their reasons, doctors who support state-run medicine should all recognize that by failing to defend their own freedom of judgement, careers, professional integrity, and rights, they are also selling out the rest of America…especially America’s best blood. Those of us who do not want to trade our independence and freedom for a free appendectomy or cholesterol pill will also be victims.

I can sympathize with Dr. Brougham with regard to such issues as tort reform. But with due respect, his call for government control is both immoral and un-American. Like it or not, doctors and other healthcare providers are on the front lines in the battle between freedom and authoritarianism in medicine. Those who side with the statists in calling for socialized medicine are not just forfeiting their own rights, but the rights of all of us as well, including those of their patients.


Harold said...

Thanks for writing this. It's troubling, but not surprising. In fact it reminds me of Bill Gates blaming the problems of poverty in the third world on capitalism's "deficiencies". Someone who would have otherwise been a great exponent of freedom doesn't even seem to understand the principles behind the system (mixed as it currently is) that allowed him to amass such a fortune.

Once again, we see the power of philosophy in action. With regard to those doctors, it did not even occur to me that there are those who do not want to compete, but of course that makes a lot of sense.

Mike Zemack said...


The corruption of altruism/collectivism in the minds of great creators like Gates has been an ongoing problem for Capitalism. But that is beginning to change as more and more businessmen learn how to morally defend themselves, led by such people as BB@T's Chairman John Allison and others...and the work of ARC.

By the way, you might be interested in a place to connect with other Objectivists. A student of Objectivism can learn a lot from seasoned activists. If so, click here.

Harold said...

Thanks for the info.