Universal Medicare not the solution
Lance Hames of Ronan, argued last week for universal Medicare. He offers as a solution to our broken medical system, our omnipotent federal government. His solution is the very thing that has created this mess. For the entire history of this nation until 1965, healthcare costs rose slower than the Consumer Price Index. What changed in 1965? The Federal government got involved in healthcare with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Within a matter of a few years, 60 Minutes was doing exposes on the massive corruption generated by these programs. They estimated by the early 1970s that there was over $1 billion worth of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and corruption in Chicago alone. Since 1965, healthcare costs have risen an average of nearly seven times the CPI. Hames offers one extreme example of exorbitant CEO wages as proof that corporations are not to be trusted. Yet what proof do we have that the government is more efficient or trustworthy? One of our smallest, most easily managed patient populations insured by the federal government is our veterans. This agency is a world class example of corruption, inefficiency and callous disregard for human life. He argues against the obscene tiers of corporate largess but never mentions the multiple tiers within government bureaucracies. Look up the organizational chart for the Department of Health and Human Services that administers Medicare.
In order to bring medical costs down there has to be accountability, yet what can hold government agencies accountable? Over a dozen federal agencies have, for years, been unable and unwilling to account for the funds allocated them by Congress. Billions of dollars go unaccounted for each year. As citizens, we cannot sue government employees for their misdeeds and Civil Service laws make it almost impossible to fire them. Greed is as rampant in government as it is in corporations, only their greed is protected. Why could your infamous Mr. Hemsley make ridiculous amounts of money? Because our labyrinth of regulations has driven dozens of health insurance companies out of the market. In a healthy market, competition keeps the cost of products down. In a healthy market, United could never afford to pay Mr. Hemsley such wages.
You call corporations parasites, yet corporations produce over 90 percent of the goods that make our lives manageable – at prices we can afford. The true parasite is government. It can produce nothing until it first takes the resources necessary for its activities from society. Our government has demonstrated no ability to run a corner drugstore much less 1/6th of our economy. After all, is it worse to have hundreds of corporate managers making millions in salaries or hundreds of thousands making billions filing claims for non-existent doctors on behalf of mythical patients? At least I can sue corporations for their misdeeds or choose to buy coverage from another company. When we’re all stuck with Medicare and being treated like the veterans, what choices will we have then?