Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Patch and Fill Health Care Reform" and Postmodern Denial

Why Patch and Fill Health Care Reform Won't Work, by Marie Cocco

Marie Cocco, an advocate of single payer medicine, indicates in this piece that the Obamacare healthcare agenda is beginning to crumble. There are other instances of anecdotal evidence as well. (click here and here, and here.) She writes:

Lawmakers of every political leaning are putting forward their own ideas, none of them as tough-minded or comprehensive as a single administration-initiated proposal might have been.

The result is a raft of proposals that are patch-and-fill jobs on the current system - a system that pretty much everyone believes is crumbling to the point of collapse.

Advocates of a single, national insurance system that would involve explicit cost controls and guidelines for care - that might put an end to such wasteful practices as over-testing - have been shunted aside. This is in part because Democrats quiver when Republicans call them "socialists."

But Republicans cry "socialist" even when Democrats promote weak reforms that barely nick the vested interests. That's what's happening now.

No one has seriously proposed an overhaul that would achieve what a single-payer system has been shown to accomplish in most other countries:

universal coverage with lower costs that delivers better results than we now get in the United States.

Instead, Democrats have all but abandoned the idea that everyone be covered without exception. They've so far avoided endorsing clear cost-containment measures that would pass the budget-scorers' test of legitimacy. The wished-for savings that Obama says he wants the private insurance industry to achieve are exactly that - wishes.

The winners so far are health-industry lobbyists. They sense that their chances of protecting the interests of big insurers, drug companies, medical specialties, technology companies and the like are improving every day. They're probably right.


I'm not so optimistic, though. While the drive toward total government control may be slowing, any reform that adds even a smidgen of government interference keeps the trend in place. In my commentary, I show where Ms. Cocco is wrong to lament "patch and fill".

More interestingly, and more importantly, the mindset behind the pro single-payer crowd is on desplay here, both in Ms. Cocco's piece and in the comments of hsteach, who writes:

I don't think the free market works for health care because there is a moral component that market-based systems aren't equipped to handle. I can't be trusted to be a responsible consumer of health care where my son is concerned. I am not going to shop around for the best price for a procedure he needs, and therefore there is no competition that should control prices. The doctor that treats my son is, in a sense, working with a captive audience. The other reason I can't be trusted is my lack of knowledge. I can't do the research and understand the studies about the best treatment for a medical issue the way I can consult conumer reports when I am buying a T.V.

His medical care is not something I am willing to shop. I want the best for my son, even if I can't afford it.

We would also be well served by banning the use of the world Socialist. Labelling an idea socialist is convenient shorthand for a "bad" idea. An idea is good or bad inddpendent from labels.


The rule of unreality and unreason is what makes our battle against the collective mentality so daunting. This guy (or gal) hsteach not only wants to ban words, but he wants his son's health in the hands of unknown central planners because, in so many of his own words, he's too dumb to make his own healthcare decisions!

Here is My Commentary

by Mike Zemack on June 20th, 6:03 pm

No discussion of "reform" is honest without a thorough examination of history. The problems in American healthcare have grown in lock step with the growth of government intervention, and represent a failure, not of freedom, but of statism. The problems began in the 1930s and 40s with the insertion of tax distortions into the fledgling health insurance industry, and the creation of the third-party-payer system. The interventions grew over the decades until we arrived at the current semi-socialized, semi-free concoction. The "patch and fill" method has worked quite well at advancing us toward total government control. More patch and fill will continue that trend. So I don"t really understand Ms. Cocco"s angst. Patch and fill has served the purpose of camouflaging the long-term goal of the Left, by keeping the steps toward tyranny small and the process imperceptible to a Progressive-educated population. This fraud has served them well.

This was necessary, of course, because to advocate socialism openly and honestly is and always has been a loser in America. After the tyranny, wars, and unprecedented mass murder wrought by the socialist regimes of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China, and the many smaller variants of the 20th century, socialism is dead as an intellectual force. That is why Obama and the American Left run from the socialist label as from the plague, despite the obvious socialist (albeit through the fascist back door) underpinnings of their agenda. How, then, to pursue a socialist agenda in America?

Enter Postmodernism, the denial of reality and reason. Just don't call socialized medicine "socialism", and it won't be socialism. Better yet, let's just repeal the First Amendment, and ban the word "socialism" as one correspondent incredibly suggests. While we're at it, we might as well ban the words "unalienable individual rights" and "liberty" as well. But words have meanings that describe reality. Words don't create reality. Reality isn"t altered or cease to exist by banning words. In any war between human whims and reality, reality will always win.

So playing the game of Postmodern Pretend doesn't change these facts. When government pays, government sets the terms. When we hand over our money to a central planning government bureaucracy, we forfeit our freedom, as individuals, to make our own decisions on healthcare and anything the state deems to effect our health. It"s a lose-lose proposition, except for the political powerlusters and (for a time) their parasitic constituents who seek an eternal something-for-nothing or an escape from judgement and personal responsibility. State bureaucrats backed by government's unique monopoly on physical force will determine who gets what treatment and when, as well as our diets and exercise regimen. Doctors will be forced into enslavement to one monopolistic employer (communism, essentially, or is that word banned too?), forbidden to act upon their own judgement. "Cost containment" and "comparative effectiveness" edicts will replace the needs of the patient. Control of medical progress shifts from the market (the voluntary choices of free individuals) to the central planners, effectively ending innovation. The long-term investments in time and money won't be made by entrepreneurs whose work and investment can be cancelled on the whim of whatever "cost-containment" fantasy happens to pop into the brain of the bureaucrat of the moment.

Government bureaucrats deemed incompetent and forbidden to make their own healthcare decisions will control every aspect of the nearly 20 % of the US economy that is the healthcare industry. The best minds will slowly leave the field, or refuse to enter it to begin with. The most talented people don't submit to the edicts of mental midgets. Medicare's $38 trillion "unfunded liability" will be dwarfed under "universal healthcare" despite "cost containment", bankrupting the country. Totalitarian socialism in medicine will have arrived, whether one calls it that or not.

Ms. Cocco would have us believe that this nightmare scenario of medical tyranny is preferable to a free market, the system of individual rights that leaves providers, consumers, insurers, and patients free to contract and trade voluntarily with each other, each to his own advantage. She would have us believe that the people we depend upon to provide us with the healthcare products we need are the villains because they are defending their rights and their livelihoods, and the politicians who produce nothing are the heroes because they would loot and enslave them. She would have us believe that "slavery is freedom".

Give me a free market capitalist economy full of "insurers, drug companies, medical specialties, technology companies and the like" competing to sell me their life-giving products, and the freedom to make my own choices based upon my own self-interest. Give me the freedom to exercise my unalienable individual rights to my life and liberty. Give me a government that protects those rights. Give me a moral social system that protects me and the doctors I depend on from predators who think their need and ignorance is a license to loot and enslave. Give me America - if that word hasn't yet been banned - not Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or England's NHS.

1 comment:

Harold said...

"I don't think the free market works for health care because there is a moral component that market-based systems aren't equipped to handle. I can't be trusted to be a responsible consumer of health care where my son is concerned. I am not going to shop around for the best price for a procedure he needs, and therefore there is no competition that should control prices. The doctor that treats my son is, in a sense, working with a captive audience."

Lol, right out of the Moron Manual.

"Words don't create reality. Reality isn"t altered or cease to exist by banning words. In any war between human whims and reality, reality will always win."

Great point.

"Control of medical progress shifts from the market (the voluntary choices of free individuals) to the central planners, effectively ending innovation."

Isn't it surprising that we don't have calls for "honest discourse" or national referenda on the availability of flat-panel TVs, vacuum cleaners, or cell phones? Well, not really.

Even if one wasn't aware of the moral arguments (which are still necessary), a cursory examination of the issue in comparison with say, the tech sector of the economy, would reveal the cause of our current "health crisis".