By David McKalip, M.D.
The Majority in Congress and the President are promising to change the “status quo” by pushing a government run-medicine plan (HR 3200). The plan would create rationing through government committees, force all Americans to buy over-priced, politically created health insurance, create an economically unsustainable government-run insurance plan and impose economy-crushing taxes. In fact, the President would break yet another promise by imposing a 2.5% income tax on each person who refused to buy government improved insurance. Further, after 2013 people would be forced to stay in their current plan for life or buy only a government-approved plan since no further enrollment will be allowed in non-approved insurance. Insurance companies would profit endlessly from the free business of the mandate. As medical care demands increased and artificially high profit margins became unacceptably low (for them) they would join the bailout game. In other words, there would be absolutely no change to the status quo — just an expansion of more people into the currently bad system with the added feature of state-sanctioned rationing of medical care.
President Obama and Congress are building a medical cage that would trap all Americans and their doctors. Doctors who chose to provide the best, most innovative care with the fewest side effects to their patients would be punished. Doctors will be coerced to buy electronic medical records and send the private medical data of their patients and the details of their medical decisions to the government and insurance companies. The data of your doctors’ medical practice would then be scanned by bureaucrats to see that they have complied with rules designed to force them to ration care. They must practice “efficiently” to avoid a 5%-40% pay cut or to avoid being driven out of practice altogether. The same government that recently accidentally posted all the nation’s sensitive nuclear sites on the internet would then have to be trusted to keep your data confidential. With full access to every bit of your medical data, government and insurance companies would have an excuses to deny care for your “non-compliance” with, for instance, a diabetes control or tobacco cessation program. Congressional plans would likely add to the cost of health insurance by adding mandated benefits to plans you must buy — perhaps even forcing pro-life taxpayers to subsidize abortions.
Congress is foolishly basing its health system reform proposals on the same approach used in Massachusetts. The state has failed to achieve “universal coverage” with about 200,000 (2.6%) of their state still uninsured. In fact, most of the newly insured were covered by receiving heavily subsidized insurance from the state — not due to the mandate to buy private insurance out of pocket. Due to budget overruns, they recently voted to remove coverage from 30,000 legal aliens for a $130 million savings and last year released others who couldn’t afford costly coverage from the mandate. Health care costs are rising much faster than nationally with spending up by 23 percent. Insurance premiums have increased 10-12 percent per year, nearly double the national average. The state is facing $1.5 billion this year in health spending and now is considering cost control programs that will limit care doctors provide to patients. There are too few providers for the increased demand – due to price fixing of doctor pay for decades by the federal government. Thus patients are waiting long periods to see doctors — especially in primary care. Congressional proposals to fix this included allowing nurse practitioners to be designated primary care “providers”, negating the years of training doctors receive and discouraging more doctors from entering the profession to compete against nurses for the same business.
Fortunately there are good Congressional proposals to address these problems and to allow American to escape from the government’s medical cage. Congressman Ron Paul has authored HR 2630, the “Protect Patients and Physician’s Privacy Act”. The bill states that all individuals shall have the ability to opt out of any federally mandated, created, or funded electronic system for maintaining health care information. He also is offering HR 2629 the “Coercion is Not Health Care Act'” which forbids the Federal Government from forcing any American to purchase health insurance, and from conditioning participation in any federal program, or receipt of any federal benefit, on the purchase of health insurance.
Free market economist and philosopher of freedom, Friedrich Hayek defined freedom as “the absence of coercion”. In his classic The Road to Serfdom he describes how parliamentary bodies (like Congress) prefer to delegate their power to unelected committees to insulate themselves from criticism — especially when they create economically unsustainable programs which are promises that they cannot keep. Modern Congressional promises that can’t be kept include Medicare, SCHIP and now a proposed public option and heavily subsidized, but mandated, universal health insurance. Congressman Paul is channeling Hayek when he works to protect us from coercion proposed by Congress and from the power their appointed committees would gain by using the valuable medical information essentially looted from each American alive. As a free American, it is in your your best interest to use the freedom you have now to rise up to stop this very un-American intrusion into your lives. Some would say it is your duty — but that would be coercion too. Yet remember that Benjamin Franklin told us that when you fight for your own freedom, you are helping the cause of liberty for all. And a society with more freedom is in everyone’s individual interest. You can start by calling your Congressman and ask them to support HR 2629 and HR 2630. Then recruit others who have an open mind to the cause. Finally, it is important that you donate to causes like the Campaign for Liberty so they can be on your side to help you fight.