Wednesday, November 26th 2008

Give A Mouse A Cookie And Then Try To Take It Away


If He’d Pressure His Publisher To Make It Available For The Kindle I’d Read It

Tom Daschle is going to be Secretary for Health & Human Services. Old news.

In a coming post I argue that health care reform is going to be relatively low on the agenda of the coming administration in some part because of the current economic climate. The reality is, although polls consistently have the public put health care reform high on the domestic agenda, there is, in reality a lack of passion behind it. As compared to, say, unemployment.

But if there is a choice to keep health care reform on the administration’s agenda it is, perhaps, Daschle. This man is a former Senate Majority leader and one of the most prominent Senate leaders over the past two decades. And he wanted to be Health & Human Services secretary.

Now I have briefly met current Secretary Michael Leavitt. Outside of the state of Utah, who in the world can tell me who Michael Leavitt is? Virtually no one.

But even the marginally politically interested have probably heard the name Tom Daschle. He immediately raises the profile of health care reform. An unfortunate thing.

I’ve been very frank in my discussion about government subsidized health care. I am not with organized medicine or most conservatives on health care reform. Not with them in the sense that I think their pragmatic arguments against government subsidized health care are ludicrous.

They are, frankly, ridiculous arguments. Absolutely no evidence points to their most dramatic conclusions. Yes, all health care systems have downsides and trade offs. Such will come with any attempt at further government subsidization of health care. As an example, I imagine rationing to expand and to become more overt under any single payer system in the United States. But to draw a line from such downsides to the claim that American health will actually suffer under a true single payer system is wrong.

I feel that many of my colleagues in organized medicine are intelligent enough to gather the true ‘benefits’ of a single payer system and yet continue to play fear monger and to attack such systems with meritless charges to try to sway public opinion. For those who truly buy the arguments they make, well…I just don’t know. There is nothing to be said except that all balanced evidence points otherwise.

Yes, the United States has demographics and social situations that differentiate it say, from Europe or Canada. America’s, relatively, poor life expectancy and our infant mortality figures are a product of multiple etiologies. But to imagine that the results of countries with “universal” health care don’t provide evidence that increased health care access in this country would not improve utilitarian health outcome measurements is stupid.

Of course it would.

This is not to say that I support further government subsidization of health care. I absolutely do not. I’m libertarian minded at my core and taking individual’s earned income to guarantee someone else’s access to health care; which is something I bemoan others declaring as a “right,” does not sit with me.

True, I believe it my personal moral obligation to provide care for the indigent and to work to provide health for all, as a soon to be physician. But, I would hope, we could all agree that imposing a standard of morals on society is far from government’s role. I’m repulsed by the idea that government should attempt to impose such a moral obligation on the entirety of our society.

Health care is not a right. And to define it as one and to deny the public of their right to property in order to uphold some ill defined right to health care is, in and of itself, stupid.

Which brings me to the point of my post. I am scared of Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services. I am scared of such a prominent individual; someone with Obama’s ear actually sitting in Washington and advocating for substantial health care reform.

I’ll spare you an account of Obama’s health care plan and the Democratic alternatives in this post. I am working on a lengthy post to cover such.

The point is that any reform is likely to succeed. Government subsidization of health care can work and will be cheered by the masses. Especially as the wealth gap continues to grow in this country.

Such is the argument a U.S. News blog recently made.

Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that’s it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail.

The key point is this: you will never be able to take away government subsidization of health care costs once they exist. Give a mouse a cookie and he’ll keep it for himself. As a saying I just made up goes. The entitlement society does not give up what it is has earned been handed.

And Tom Daschle makes such reform all the more likely.

Maybe my acquaintances and friends who see the ‘benefits’ of health care reform for most Americans, and yet continue to oppose it, are on to something. It seems there is no alternative. We are fighting entropy, the inevitable, here. It’s worth it, even if it may be a losing path in the long term. Let’s keep fighting against Tom Daschle.

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