Winthrop C. Dillaway III, M.D., president of the New Jersey chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, had a guest editorial in the NJ Star-Ledger recently. In his article, Dillaway called for "universal health care." His piece is aptly titled The power of universal health care.
I left the following comments:
I'm always amazed that there are doctors who would willingly place their judgments, knowledge, skills, and careers at the disposal of government bureaucrats. Would you want to place your medical well-being in the hands of such a person?
The words of philosopher Leonard Peikoff came back to me as I read this article. Peikoff noted that under government-run medicine, a certain kind of doctor flourishes; what he calls "new bureaucratic doctors."
The following refers to HMOs, which are government created, but is true of any government-imposed, top-down system of healthcare. Simply substitute "government" for HMO.
After discussing how doctors under government medicine must subordinate their practice and the well-being of their patients to the dictates of cost-cutting bureaucrats, Peikoff writes:
[T]he HMO doctor ultimately has to obey: he either keeps his costs within the dictated parameters, or he is out of work.
What kinds of doctors are willing or eager to practice medicine undei [sic] these conditions? In large part, they represent a new breed, new at leasl [sic] in quantity. There is a generation of utterly unambitious young doctors growing up today, especially conspicuous in the HMOs, doctors who are the exact opposite of the old-fashioned physician in private practice—doctors who want to escape the responsibility of independent thought and judgment, and who are prepared to abandon the prospect of a large income or a private practice in order to achieve this end. These doctors do not mind the forfeit of their professional autonomy to the HMO administrator. They do not object to practicing routine, cut-rate medicine with faceless patients on an assembly-line basis—so long as they themselves can escape blame for any bad results and cover their own tracks. These are the new bureaucratic doctors, the MDs with the mentality, and the fundamental indifference to their job, of the typical post-office clerk.
Peikoff spoke those words in 1985. I do not know what kind of a doctor Dillaway is. Was he a member of the "generation of utterly unambitious young doctors" Peikoff identified? Whatever the case--his mawkish serenades to the "profound benefits to all" that supposedly accompanies government-run medicine aside--the question remains: Would you want to place your medical well-being in the hands of a Dr. Dillaway?