You Want to Control Health Care? Prove You Can Handle the Responsibility

Would you hand over your car keys to a stranger with a drinking problem who had a history of smashing his own cars into telephone poles?

Neither would I. Which is why I am puzzled as to why there is so much excitement over handing health care over to the federal government, thereby giving them responsibility over roughly 1/6th of the nation’s economy.

Before we hand over the keys, let’s go back to the scene of the accident. That accident, of course, is Medicare, a monopoly program that drove private insurers out of the market for the elderly population and is facing huge deficits. If a government takeover of the entire health care system would be so successful, why is Medicare so bent out of shape? Looks a lot like a broken telephone pole with red white and blue paint scraped all over it to me.

The editors of the Washington Examiner ask the same question:

President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers issued a report earlier this month estimating that as much as 30 percent of Medicare spending is unnecessary for improving health outcomes. Given such opportunities for easy savings within government, and Medicare’s weighty influence in the broader system (many private insurers set payments by adding a percentage to Medicare’s rates), it would make sense to reform Medicare first, see what works and what doesn’t, and then apply the lessons of that process later to any system-wide fix.

…If Obama’s broader plans involve “bending the cost curve” for health care on the backs of medical professionals, it will lead straight to rationing health care. And the public option being discussed will undercut private insurers, which will put them out of business. Better to proceed carefully by fixing Medicare first and put the hasty risks on the shelf.

The government has not shown that they can handle providing care to one part of the population, so I have little faith that they can successfully control the rest. But based on their driving record, we have a lot more to fear than broken telephone poles.

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