Correspondent Atlas (who you may recall is the token right-winger on THCB) writes regarding my question as to what will turn the tide regarding reform:
The pondering of what might start a proletarian revolution in health care sounds jarringly reminiscent of Lenin’s observation about Czarist Russia: "The worse, the better."
The reality is that most Americans are reasonably fat and happy with their healthcare, which is why the starry eyed Reds of the health care firmament (Dr. Angell et. al.) are always disappointed when the rage at the machine so fashionable among the chattering class don’t resonate with Red-land.
The real power behind the move to give big pharma and the rest of the healthcare sector, as you allude to in your post, is mean old big business–GM and the rest of the Fortune 500. One industrial titan’s revenue is another’s expense, and since big biz picks up nearly half the tab, they are leading the charge behind the scenes to cut that cost through the usual means–get government to pay for it, or outsource it to India.
Government is the other pincer putting the squeeze on the healthcare-industrial squeeze. Those of you who lament Bush II pay close attention and watch how the Administration uses clever cost cutting wolves in private sector sheep’s clothing to penetrate deep behind healthcare-industrial complex lines.
I’ll have you know there are some otherwise reasonably rational Republicans running around Congress waving bloody reimportation shirts. There are cheap votes to be had in this farce, and most of the Chamber will still respect you in the morning.
Most big business would like nothing more than to unload their healthcare costs on the government, which will then either tax and spend until the whole deck of cards collapses, or (much more likely) ration us into a Kafkaesque gulag system ala Great Britain or those envied denizens of the great white north who migrate south like birds in Fall should they actually need healthcare rather than the illusion of it gratis.
Sad but true, there is no free lunch. Would that there were. But no one works for nothing. Not even noble minded authors. And they are far less likely to be sued into oblivion for human faults than big pharma, hospitals, and the beleaguered medical profession, its ranks already projected to fall 20% short of projected demand by 2015.
Even now, why would any intelligent young person choose medicine over law? A good trial lawyer can make more in a year than a good doctor can make in a lifetime? So those who clamor for socialized health will have to rely on scholarly saints in a capitalist world, which will make the queues for healthcare even longer.
Nonetheless, there are legitimate problems that need to be solved and can be addressed without killing the geese that lay the golden eggs. Some of Kerry’s ideas and some of Hillary’s had merit. If we fully funded Medicaid and raised the eligibility limits, possibly by means testing Medicare and Social Security, I think a lot of the legitimately uninsured would be covered. But instead politicians waste time and political capital on stalking horses like reimportation. Let those who are serious–big business, big pharma, big government, organized medicine and hospitals and all the other players, purveyors, and payers–sit down at the table and make great compromises for the good of the people, instead of demagoguing for political gain. Only serious candidates need apply.