Giving away your health care "equally"
By Richard E. Ralston
Increasing government control of medical care is a reflection of increasing government control of everything. In the name of equality, politicians eagerly create inequality in the interest of their own spoils system.
In a free market, the interaction of unrestricted individuals results in unequal outcomes, but many do not care for this. We regularly hear that the central problem of our times is inequality. The government no longer wants to merely tax your income or ensure accessibility to health care services; they want to limit and control all of it, equally. Their ultimate goal is not the revenue needed to pay for programs but more power for themselves.
Several generations of politicians have cultivated a mentality that each individual's earnings and medical plan, and the medical practices of physicians, are subject to government permission. As stated by President Barack Obama's first head of Medicare and Medicaid, Donald Berwick: "Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must--must--redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is, by definition, re-distributional."
Thus the government must take good medical care from those who have it and redistribute it to those who do not.
Another way of saying that is: "If you like you current medical care, we will redistribute it equally to others." Not exactly what the president promised.
A prime example of how politicians create inequality: they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising to encourage low-income earners to spend their money buying government lottery tickets. Then they give $400 million to one or two winners. That is redistribution of wealth with a vengeance. All that the government really distributes equally is a gambling dependency--a psychological disorder.
A much larger gamble is government-provided care. It claims equality for all, and then proceeds to create hundreds of thousands of pages of legislation and regulations listing the exceptions--with vast bureaucracies to administer it all. That process then chiefly serves the special interests of its creators.
Politicians say they want the law to treat every patient equally, but their priority is to preserve their power to grant exceptions, waivers and benefits to their friends and clients.
In 1997, Congress pretended to do something about rising Medicare costs by introducing the methodology of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. Keeping with the practice of naming congressional acts with a lie (e.g., the "Affordable Care Act"), the Balanced Budget Act has actually achieved unsustainable growth in Medicare spending and unbalanced budgets ever since enactment.
The so-called "doc fix" requires an annual reduction in payments to physicians for their services to Medicare patients to a level below the cost of providing those services. And every year, the American Medical Association and other physician groups parade to Congress to ask for an exception. Then the cuts are suspended.
That was the purpose of the legislation: to force physicians to come, hat (and check book) in hand, to Congress and beg for relief every year.
Exponential and unsustainable growth in Medicare and Medicaid spending goes on for the benefit of politicians, not patients, and in the interest of political gains, not public health.
We must always keep in mind the real agenda for government-run health care: politicians want to use government to control health care because they want to control you. They do that by redistributing your income, your medical services and everything important to you. They want to redistribute everything except their own power.
Richard E. Ralston is executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2015 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.