IBJOpinion

Reduce government role in health care

September 5, 2009
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Bruce Hetrick is a truly principled liberal and supporter of big government, I applaud his ongoing support of President Obama’s proposed government overhaul of the world’s most dynamic and successful medical care market. However, Hetrick’s patronizing and dismissive reference [in his Aug. 24 column] to the idea of death panels (“There is, of course, no such clause or intent in any health-reform legislation”) is insulting to any reader who has followed the debate over health care reform.  

In fact, while Hetrick can easily dismiss the slack-jawed yokels of his home state, The New York Times, America’s most hallowed liberal press organ, agrees with the death panel commentators. Just last week, The New York Times opined, “Mr. Obama has been unable to dispel the concerns of older Americans because the health care bills in Congress are long, complex and evolving. Moreover, if a bill becomes law, no one can say for sure how it may be applied or extended.”

All sides should acknowledge that we spend more on health care than other nations, and it is simple to prove that this incremental spending does not make us better at basic treatments. Instead, what we have is the most dynamic and innovative health system—not the most cost-effective. I have yet to hear somebody make the argument that government will boost innovation while reducing cost. Nobody says it because all adults know that government has a long history of doing neither.

There is no way to provide 100 percent of the desired health care to 100 percent of the people who want it. The choice is not, “Do we ration health care?” The choice is, “How do we ration health care?”

We are faced with a dilemma: Do we trust government to develop, deliver and control health care more efficiently and effectively than they have done anything else or do we learn from experience and, rather than insert government into the process even further, try and remove them as much as we can? More government involvement is the wrong answer, and reducing the role of government is far more likely to be the right answer.

Matt Nettleton

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