Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Single-Payer: The Gateway to Socialist Paradise

Free health care for all is not only a no brainer but immoral to dismiss. That was in the email I got from my successful, highly-educated daughter in 2010, just before every Democrat in Congress voted to implement Obamacare , also known as the ironically-named “Affordable Care Act”.   

They also simultaneously voted to exempt themselves from the “benefits” of Obamacare, and instead bravely shouldered the burdens of maintaining their own privately-run luxury healthcare program. 

Now it appears that almost all Democrats in Congress, at least among their leadership, favor implementing a “single-payer” (i.e., government owned and operated) healthcare system.  For you, of course, not for them.  

Do you seriously believe that Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or any of the other Dem single-payer advocates have any intention of giving up their Cadillac private healthcare to go on single-payer themselves?

As in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others.  One set of laws are for those who are ruled, and another for the rulers.

But they really, really believe that a socialized government-
run healthcare system is for your own good.  The fact that it dramatically expands the government and their political power has nothing to do with it.  And the ignorant and gullible “free healthcare is a no brainer” crowd swallows it whole.

The latest Dem tactic is to call it “Medicare for All”.  This is intentionally misleading.  Whatever it is called, the result is the same.  The entire supply chain of medical services, from drugs and medical devices, to doctors, nurses, and hospitals all come under the complete control of the government.

When you only have one buyer (i.e., “single-payer”), everyone in the chain is forced to become their providers, work for them and do their bidding.  It can be no other way.

In the new healthcare supply chain, we give up our role as “customer” to the government.  Instead, as patients we become only the “end product”.

The communist constitution of the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) promised the people free healthcare, free education, and a right to affordable housing, to achieve equality and “social justice”.  Instead, the government bankrupted the country’s economy and impoverished the people.  The truly horrifying realization here is that this may be the platform of the Democrat party in 2020.

In Oleg Atbashian’s great book, Hotel USSR, he describes the horrors and insanity of life in a socialist system. 
…my stomach problems kept sending me back to the hospital every few months, without anyone bothering to explain why, or how to make it stop.  The state covered the expenses, but at some point I wished I could see a paid private doctor who would give me his full attention instead of the lab rat treatment.  Then I realized that even if private doctors existed in our country, most people including me and my parents would have no money to pay them.  Why did our working people end up so poor?  Because the state had taken all their money to pay for their free substandard healthcare, whether they liked it or not.  This was the invisible trap in which we all lived.

The reality is that getting anything for “free” from your government requires giving up your income, liberty, and individual freedoms in exchange for a rationed, poor quality product. 

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a single-payer system as proposed by Sen. Sanders would double our national debt, adding almost $19 trillion to our already unsustainable debt burden.  They estimate that the debt would rise to 154% of US GDP (instead of a projected 86%) by 2026.

This means that our government-issued healthcare (aka “Medicare for All” or “Berniecare”), would soon become unsustainable as well.  Aside from bankrupting the country and impoverishing the people, healthcare would become a carefully rationed commodity.  Our lives would be placed in the merciful hands of unaccountable government bureaucrats to decide our fate.

Government agencies run by such people couldn’t be abused, could they?  They would never think of delaying or withholding necessary healthcare from people who have unacceptably deplorable political opinions or wear MAGA hats, would they?  Of course, some might believe that those racists and Nazis should get what they deserve.

And then, there are those protected classes that cannot be denied access to health services under any circumstances, such as illegal immigrants, transsexuals, and women wanting abortions.  That leaves the scraps for the rest of us to fight over.

Eventually the inevitable need must arise for the much-derided concept of “death panels”.  With rationing, it is essential that decisions are made over how much care people are entitled to.  Those who contribute the least to the state are also the ones who require the most expensive healthcare. 

If you are chronically ill or in the last years of your life, will the government decide you are on the wrong side of a cost/benefit ratio?  It appears that some officials in NY and VA are currently willing to consider “post-birth” abortions of unwanted babies.  Is that not a “death panel” function?

A six-month-old Gallup survey showed that socialism was viewed favorably by 57% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans.  That’s enough of a majority to swing elections and affect the direction of the country.  Apparently, the lessons of the failures of socialism and socialized medicine throughout the world have not been learned.

In 2009 under Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan healthcare system was touted as a breakthrough in “participatory democracy”.  In the fawning words of

The right to health care is guaranteed in the Venezuelan Constitution, which was written and ratified by the people in 1999.  Through implementing a state-funded social program called Barrio Adentro, or inside the barrio, free comprehensive health care is available to all Venezuelans. Beginning in June 2003 through a trade pact with Cuba, Venezuela began to bring Cuban doctors, medical technology, and medications into rural and urban communities free of charge in exchange for low-cost oil. The 1.5 million dollar per year program expanded to provide a broad network of small neighborhood clinics, larger regional clinics, and hospitals which aim to serve the entire Venezuelan population. …Chavez has referred to this new health care system as the "democratization of health care" stating that "health care has become a fundamental social right and the state will assume the principal role in the construction of a participatory system for national public health."

As of a year ago, February 2018, NPR reported:

The entire Venezuelan health care system is on the verge of collapse, says Francisco Valencia, head of the public health advocacy group Codevida. Some hospitals lack electricity, and more than 13,000 doctors have left Venezuela in the past four years in search of better opportunities.

"They don't give food to the patients in the hospital," Valencia tells Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd. "They don't have the proper medical supplies to take care of the people who go to the emergency [room] like gloves, like every basic thing they need for an emergency."
It only took nine years for this socialized healthcare system to go from riches to rags.  It could be credibly argued that it was the fault of the failing economy in Venezuela.  But do we want to have our access to life-or-death medical treatment dependent on the relative health of the US economy?
History has shown that giving up individual freedoms and ceding power to government is a fatally-flawed idea.  Sometimes the true motives of our political betters are revealed.  In 2012, the Democratic National Convention released a video featuring the meme, “Government is the only thing we all belong to”.
Thank you, no.

Andrew Thomas

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