Friday, May 05, 2006

Medicine

Every Friday the Detroit News editorial page runs a column called Labor Voices. It is rotated between 4 labor leaders. This week's column is by Ron Gettelfinger President United Auto Workers Union. Today he calls for socialized medicine in the form of national health insurance. He starts:

**You've probably noticed more media attention than usual focused on America's dysfunctional health care system during the past several days thanks to "Cover the Uninsured Week," an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Cover the Uninsured Week" is a uniquely American event -- uniquely American because the United States is the only advanced industrialized nation without some form of universal health care coverage.

Why? The conventional wisdom, of course, is that we can't afford it. Well, the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong. It's not that we don't have the money; it's that we're spending our health care dollars inefficiently and foolishly.**

This means that all the millions of people who go to their doctors and hospitals when needed are making "foolish" and "inefficient" decisions and that a much wiser approach would be to introduce the power of governmental force into the American "system" of health insurance. Two paragraphs later he says:

**What's more, despite having the best doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the world, the United States ranks near the bottom among industrialized nations on life expectancy, infant mortality and virtually every other measure. In fact, the infant mortality rate in our nation's capital is more than double the infant mortality rate in Beijing.**

First, the notion that the quality of American health care ranks "near the bottom" is flat out wrong. People from all over the world come here to be treated. They are not flocking to Beijing.

Second, why are we trusting numbers from a communist dictatorship which censors any data that would make it look bad?

Third, how can we have the "best doctors and nurses" whose work ranks "near the bottom"?

And fourth, Mr. Gettelfinger doesn't seem to realize the reason America has "the best doctors, nurses and other health care professionals" is precisely because America is the "only advanced industrialized nation without some form of universal health care coverage." (from above)

If one really wanted to help the uninsured one would do whatever it takes to get the government out of the way. This would make medicine more affordable and as a result, insurance would be more affordable. For a good example of this go to Thrutch which links to a good article in the WSJ on what medical tort reform has done for Texas. A sample paragraph:

"So what has happened since September of 2003, when the new law went into effect? After years of losing doctors, Texas has added nearly 4,000 since passage of Proposition 12, including 127 orthopedic surgeons, almost 300 anesthesiologists, over 200 emergency room physicians, 146 new obstetricians, 58 neurologists and 24 neurosurgeons. The Texas Medical Board is anticipating some 4,000 applicants for new physician licenses this year alone--double last year's numbers, and 30% more than the greatest growth year ever."

Laissez-faire is a system where everyone is able to be responsible for himself. Mr Gettelfinger wants each of us to be responsible for everyone else too and that won't work as other industrial nations are now discovering.

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