EDITORIAL
An Unhealthy Health Plan
By John Browne - August 09, 2009

The President's new health plan has garnered much criticism this week, as has his handling of the economy. Until relatively recently, America had an economy, currency and health system that was the envy of the world. Today, the economy and currency look sick. There is an urgent need to curb entitlement spending and boost infrastructure spending to lift the economy and strengthen the currency. But the President appears intent upon a course that will boost entitlement spending at the expense of investment in infrastructure. Much of it will be spent on a massive Government health plan which threatens the physical health of Americans. In America, there is an old saying that ‘while the rich get richer, the poor get poorer'. The proposed health plan threatens to make the sick sicker.

It is generally accepted that a solid infrastructure is an essential ingredient of a modern, economically successful economy. It also is accepted that America's infrastructure is in a state of advanced decay, needing $1 trillion to restore it to health. Some economists assert that for each trillion dollars spent on infrastructure, some 3.5 million real, wealth-generating jobs are created.

Therefore, if the Government were to spend $1 trillion on bringing U.S. infrastructure up to standard and a further $1 trillion on improving it, would cerate some 7 million jobs. This would restore both full employment and the economy

Faced with this opportunity, it is amazing that the President appears intent upon perusing a debt financed, multi trillion spend on entitlements such as education and health. While jobs will be created, they will be wealth consuming and a drag on the economy. Furthermore, it is highly likely that the massive spend on nationalized health actually will decrease the standard of health care in America, not raise it. How can this be?

In 1993, P.J. O'Rourke in addressing the Cato institute said, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait till its free." The experience of Great Britain, Canada and Massachusetts provides stark evidence of the truth of this statement.

Democrat Representative Barney Frank claims that Obama's new health program will be financed by defense cuts and tax increases. But he hesitates to mention that when, in the mid 1960's, the Government came to Congress to finance Medicare, they gave cost projections of $10 billion over 25 years. The actual costs proved to be over ten times that estimate at $107 billion over 25 years.

In view of this evidence how can Obama expect people to believe that his new health plan will "save money"? The truth is that it is likely to emerge as an unprecedented economic drain on all Americans.

America already has the world's best health system. Why change it?

Admittedly, there is the serious problem of some 5 percent of Americans who wish to have medical insurance but are unable to pay for it. Surely, short of an uneconomic nationalized health system, a combination of refundable tax credits and tax deductions could be designed to cover this coverage gap.

As President Reagan remarked: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Anyone seeing FEMA's antics following Hurricane Katrina will shudder to think of a Government interloper coming between them and their doctor.

With deep, tax financed pockets, any Government sponsored health insurance plan soon will undersell the private, for-profit plans. Naturally, people will migrate to the cheaper Government plan, bankrupting the private sector and eventually leaving the Government as the only option.

Armed with this state monopoly power, the Government then will be empowered to dictate, not just negotiate, both the price of drugs and procedures. The best medical parishioners will move to profitable free markets abroad, followed by key divisions of the major drug companies. Just as in Canada and the UK, the standard of health care will fall dramatically with breakdowns and massive consumer frustration as waiting lists lengthen dramatically and the standard of care diminishes. The end result will be a rapid rise in unnecessary deaths. Indeed, the Obama plan envisages already a major increase in euthanasia counseling!

These are somewhat inconvenient truths. If Congress and Americans were generally aware of them, Obama's health plan would die. Is that why is he pressing ahead so fast? Does he have a hidden political agenda, geared more to social engineering more than to the health of either the U.S. economy or its citizens? Is he trying to replace Medicare solely to eliminate the Government's massive debts to all those Americans who for many years have paid into Medicare?

America is at a crossroads. Somehow, the economy must be restructured to ensure that we, as a Nation, consume less than we produce. Spending on entitlements must be reduced as a proportion of Gross National Product and investment in production increased.

If the Administration spends wisely, rather than politically, it could restore both the American economy and the American people to health. If not, Americans will feel far worse.

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