Healthcare and our Ever-Expanding Government

Our government, which already directly employs a seventh a America’s labor force (22 million people), is doing what government does best. It is growing – in size, cost and invasiveness.

Its growth into the healthcare industry is particularly interesting to me because of the enthusiasm with which so many of my liberal friends welcome it.

There exist little-known, little-discussed health rules buried in the recently-passed 1,100-page “stimulus” bill – the one which was forced to a vote in the House twelve hours after it’s midnight release, which not a single Congressman read, and which had been made available to lobbyists, but not Congressional staffers.

There are so many things economically and morally reprehensible about the Obama administration’s attempts at creating wealth from a printing press, one struggles to keep up even with something as important as healthcare.

Bloomberg news recently reported:

“The bill’s health rules will affect ‘every individual in the United States’ (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and ‘guide’ your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). . . . According to [former Senator] Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and ‘learn to operate less like solo practitioners.’ . . .

Hospitals and doctors that are not ‘meaningful users’ of the new system will face penalties. ‘Meaningful user’ isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose ‘more stringent measures of meaningful use over time’ (511, 518, 540-541).”

Central planning doesn’t work. One consequence will be that when centrally-planned healthcare becomes corrupt and ineffective (and it will), we won’t be allowed to quit. Our money will continue to be taken away to support something we don’t want – much like with foreign wars, domestic spying, and all the other ways America’s 22 million federal employees find meaning in their lives.

The best thing government can do is let us keep our money. In a free society, states, neighborhoods, communities, churches, families can socialize or they can not. The effectiveness of different bureaucracies will determine their fate. In Obama’s socialist society, we must all give our wealth to the centrally-planned bureaucracy regardless of whether it serves our needs.

A second consequence will be the rhetorical argument for continued government expansion into our private lives. Once government is paying for our healthcare, regardless of the fact their using our money to do it, they’ll eventually claim dominion over our diets and health-related habits.

Last year, Japan’s government began mandatory tape tests for their subjects . . . er . . . citizens, in the name of controlling healthcare costs. Financial penalties are imposed on local governments and employers who fail to meet the government’s vision of a healthy society.

In the United States, the arguments will be similar. Everything will be blamed – smokers, obesity, greedy businessmen, solar radiation – before the pundits ever cast a scrutinizing eye on government inefficiency.

Here’s another prediction: more government will be proposed as a solution.

(An abbreviated version of this blog entry appears in The Press Citizen)

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