Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fear of a Universal Health Care Planet

More American conservative gloom over the impending arrival of universal health care. Ramesh Ponnuru bemoans:

"Obama’s health-care plan is designed to evolve into a national health-insurance program along the lines of Canada’s. The resulting government monopoly or near-monopoly on health insurance would stifle innovation, require bureaucratic rationing, and infringe on freedom. But it would also move American politics permanently leftward ... the inevitable disappointments and failures of a nationalized system would just as inevitably be blamed on underfunding, creating a bidding war that liberals would usually win ... the creation of a new system would make free-market alternatives look more radical to the public than they do now, because they would be more radical. The public’s aversion to risk, which now hurts advocates of liberal policies as much as it helps them, would only help them. So national health insurance could be a lasting political success for liberals even if it is a colossal policy failure; it could, indeed, succeed politically because of its failures."
Let's address the falsehoods one by one:

Universal public health care stifles innovation.
False. In fact the major driver of medical innovation in America is already, and always has been the state:
The single biggest source of medical research funding, not just in the United States but in the entire world, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Last year, it spent more than $28 billion on research, accounting for about one-third of the total dollars spent on medical research and development in this country (and half the money spent at universities). The majority of that money pays for the kind of basic research
that might someday unlock cures for killer diseases like Alzheimer's, aids, and cancer. No other country has an institution that matches the NIH in scale. And that is probably the primary explanation for why so many of the intellectual breakthroughs in medical science happen here.
Public health care would 'require bureaucratic rationing, and infringe on freedom'.

False. As Canadians know this is simply nonsense. Despite wait lists caused by policies of underfunding and deliberate medical school enrollment suppression, essential medical treatment gets to those who need it and Canadians have plenty of choice when it comes to medical treatment with far less bureaucracy to deal with than Americans grappling with multiple insurance providers all looking for excuses to refuse to honor their customer's policies. And the US rations health care far more savagely, simply based on who can afford it and who goes without completely.

Ponnuru also blithely predicts 'inevitable disappointments' with public care - while just as blithely ignoring how utterly dysfunctional and inequitable the current non-system of American health care is. He justifies the inevitable, that Americans will embrace public health care no matter how much a 'policy failure' it is - but his biggest fear is clearly that it will be a huge policy success.


leftdog said...

The fact that Bush and the Republicans have now committed $700 BILLION dollars to a corporate welfare bailout of Wall Street, they have incidentally hobbled the incoming Obama administration from ANY ability to implement universal health care.

That is, to a large degree, what is currently occurring in the USA at the moment .. a strategic bankrupting of the public treasury.


Greg said...

He's also go the typical Mike Harris Common Nonsense argument. First you cut funding for health care, then you decry people who want to "throw money at it."


Larry Gambone said...

The US right-wing fears a proper health care system like all other developed countries have, because it will, as the article states, create a permanent pro-social democratic majority bloc. It does this, not for the reasons stated, but because people like their universal health care system and see the right as a threat to it. For example if the Harpocrits were to come out and say, "we want to destroy the health care system and introduce a US style system" they would be reduced to three or four seats in Alberta.

Cliff said...

So instead they undermine it gradually, funding cuts and de-listing here - a network of private que jumping clinics there. All part of ongoing efforts to undermine a system they know Canadians will never give thema mandate to destroy.

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