Investors Business Daily: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted last week that ObamaCare was just a first move toward a fully government-run single-payer system. This should not be a surprise. Some of us knew it all along.
More than three years ago we were saying that “anyone who’s watched Democrats’ long campaign to ‘reform’ health care knows the ultimate goal is to drive the private sector out of medicine.” ObamaCare, we warned, “seems to have started the process.”
Even before ObamaCare was signed into law, we told anyone who’d listen it was a con to dupe the public. “Once the new program is finished wrecking what remains of the private health insurance industry — as it ultimately will — we’ll be stuck with the government declaring that ‘the market doesn’t work’ and forcing all of us into a single-payer government plan,” we wrote in March 2010.
We weren’t alone. Many others made the same observation.
The Democrats never denied that ObamaCare was the first step toward a single-payer system. How could they? It actually includes an incentive for states to develop their own single-payer systems. But they never fully admitted it, either, though they’ve never tried too hard to hide their hatred for insurance companies.
Any doubt about their goal was removed last Friday, when Reid admitted the plan is to continue purging the private sector from health care. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the Nevada Democrat said on PBS’ “Nevada Week in Review” that “the country has to ‘work our way past’ insurance-based health care.”
Reid also said ObamaCare is “a step in the right direction,” but conceded that “we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.”
The Sun reported that when asked if the country would ultimately “have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it,” Reid of course said, “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
President Obama himself has endorsed the single-payer system, but he did so a decade ago before it would have been a political liability during the 2008 presidential race — though he did let it slip five years ago at a New Mexico campaign stop that he “would probably go ahead with a single-payer system” if he “were designing a system from scratch.”
But he mostly avoided voicing support for a single-payer system and instead got behind an overhaul that didn’t kill private insurance right away, because he knew that support for single-payer at that point would be a political handicap.
It was a shrewd move. Single-payer systems are deeply troubled. Look at what they’ve done in Great Britain and Canada, the models the U.S. is supposed to follow.
Patient waiting times in both are much longer than they are in the U.S. They range from inconvenient to unhealthy to downright deadly. In just one 12-month period (1996-1997), 71 Canadian patients died in just one province (Ontario) while waiting for just one procedure (coronary bypass).
What’s more, another 121 never had the surgery because they became too sick to survive it before their turn came up.
Single-payer systems purport to offer universal access, but that’s not exactly right. These systems have to ration care because there’s no endless stream of cash to fund them. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, sooner or later socialist systems run out of other people’s money.
Single-payer systems also have quality problems, in part due to flooded waiting rooms that leave doctors less time with patients.
Scarce funds mean slower adoption of medical technologies, while the removal of the profit motive impairs the research and development of new drugs and devices and the incentives to become a doctor.
Other shortcomings of single-payer systems include the lost liberty of those forced into the scheme against their will, the inevitable inequalities, strikes by government-employed health care professionals, political decisions that impair care and general unsustainability.
Democrat lawmakers like single-payer because they know their support guarantees votes from a portion of the electorate that demands to be taken care of by others. It also helps them satisfy their lust for power over their fellow man. And they know they’ll never have to use the system. They’ll always get their special health care.
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This op-ed article was published in the Investors Business Daily.