Liddick: Medical tyranny for all (column)
August 13, 2018
Now we know how much crazy Uncle Bernie's "Medicare for all" stunt is going to cost. According to the university-based Mercatus center's recent calculations, the tab will run about $3.3 trillion a year, compared to the $3.3 trillion the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid service says was spent by all sources on health care in the U.S. last year. It's a wash if one believes the projections. If, in the face of the avalanche of evidence about how woefully low past estimates on the cost of government-provided anything have been, one believes this impossibly low number, well … as my old Southern Belle auntie used to say, "Bless your heart."
She didn't mean it in a good way.
Even if one clings stubbornly to the given figures, that merely means one is willing to do a straight-across trade of current medical care for that provided by a vastly larger and less responsive version of, say, the Veterans' Administration, staffed by the post office. However one slices this mess, it's an unpalatable heap.
To remind readers of the recent past: you will not be able to keep your present plan. You will not be able to keep your present doctor. You'll be lucky to meet with a physician's assistant twice a year. Take a number to see someone about scheduling an appointment; we'll get to you in a couple months.
Two realities unite thuggish and non-thuggish anticipation: better medical care is a distant third among goals, and it’s all going to be done using a lot of other people’s money, those ‘other people’ being you.
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Advocates for "Medicare for All" say it is a way to lower medical costs, since a single schedule of reimbursements will be negotiated on behalf of hundreds of millions of customers and because hospitals and providers will be only too happy to accept Medicare's level of payment for service. A polite term for these advocates is "unaware." There are others, more pointed. Doctors, clinicians, researchers and technicians are people with skills. They can, and do, move. Ask America's rural communities what happens when they don't make their health care providers feel welcome or sufficiently reimburse their efforts. The results ain't pretty. Now Uncle Bernie and his colleagues in craziness propose doing exactly that on a national scale. Look for future opportunities to invest in "medical tourism" companies and for real estate prices to rise in Belize and Curacao.
Which will, of course benefit exactly the opposite group all the well-meaning socialist knuckleheads behind "Medicare for all" say they want to help. People with money will be able to take a short trip to places where the accommodations are comfortable, the staffs attentive, the surgeons well-trained and practiced and, for visitors, the tropical rum drinks are tasty. Those lacking the wherewithal — the ones "progressives" are endlessly on about — will be stuck with the equivalent of high-priced MASH units and levels of service that will make the Department of Motor Vehicles seem like blazing fast paragons of solicitousness.
But forget all that. If you're one who thinks that all this twaddle about better service through government really is the point — getting more for less through the expedient use of your neighbors' wallet — you couldn't be more wrong. Those currently beating the drum for "single-payer,'" or "Medicare for all" or any of a number of similar schemes to separate people from their money to increase the power and intrusiveness of government into the lives of everyday Americans couldn't care less about providing cheaper, better knee replacement surgery. Economies of scale and efficiencies of services are not their goal. Control is. By concentrating all medical care in the hands of the government, that goal will have taken a long step toward being achieved.
To the thuggishly inclined — think antifa and their "progressive" ilk — control over who gets blood pressure medicine versus bypass surgery; replacement hips versus pain medication; modern versus antique anti-gout drugs; cutting edge cancer treatments and the like is heady stuff. Get too uppity and you'll find yourself at the back of the line, citizen. Clerical error, of course…
For the not-quite-so-thuggish, think of what direct control over one-sixth of the nation's GDP promises in what our Australian friends refer to as "jobs for the boys." It's a cornucopia of corruption, presided over by unelected bureaucrats who will be reminded at regular intervals who they can thank for fleecing the irredeemable masses so they and their friends may benefit.
Two realities unite thuggish and non-thuggish anticipation: better medical care is a distant third among goals, and it's all going to be done using a lot of other people's money, those "other people" being you.
So the appeal of the program depends a lot on how much you want to spend on someone else's kidney transplant, assuming it's approved by an anonymous functionary who knows neither of you and isn't responsible for the cost or the outcome.
What could possible go wrong with that?
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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