Op-Ed: Health care reform, yes. Big government, no.

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Government insurance for health care — the public option — is an inappropriate cure that the American body politic is rejecting.

Canadians spend 10 percent of annual GDP on health care, while Americans spend 16 percent. However, Canadians experience long waiting lists for diagnosis and treatment, rationed care, and limited access to doctors and new medical devices.

You can get private medical care in Canada — if you are a pet and your doctor is a vet. Otherwise, tens of thousands of Canadians flock to the United States each year for private care to reduce pain or to save their lives. Famously, Liberal MP Belinda Stronach advocated for government health care but then traveled to California herself for private breast cancer surgery.

Even Canada’s top court struck down a Quebec ban on private health care as violating a patient’s right to life, liberty and security of person.

Nationalized health care systems abroad depend upon cost and medical effectiveness panels that frequently deny drugs and surgeries to the elderly.

That is not the American way. Neither is socialized medicine’s obvious disincentive to scientists and entrepreneurs to research and develop innovative biologics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Americans, by contrast, produce and consume the best health care in the world and export life-saving drugs across the planet.

Americans are overwhelmingly impressed with the high-quality health-care testing, technology and treatment they receive.

Note that there are 12 patients in Europe for every nurse, compared to just six in the United States.

Approximately 260 million Americans have private health insurance. The 40 million people who do not include many young and healthy who choose to become insured when they grow older and build families. It also includes 10-15 million illegal immigrants, a number that would rise with single-payer health care. It further includes the successful who choose not to purchase insurance and the poor who choose not to enroll in already existing public plans.

There are actually only about 8 million chronically ill patients who require insurance and do not have it. We can and should cover them with vouchers, tax credits, and savings from the waste, fraud and abuse in the system.

How to reduce costs for all Americans?

How about medical liability reform, to reduce defensive medicine (unnecessary, expensive tests) and defensive documentation (hours a day on paperwork) and the $200+ billion a year in trial court judgments? As they say, ask your doctor.

Health insurance coverage for most people can be for catastrophic, not comprehensive, care.

One size fits all is bad health care policy.

Government mandates and rules prevent interstate competition among the 1,300 private insurance companies, keeping Americans from choosing good plans, thereby driving down costs and increasing health care accessibility, affordability, portability and price transparency.

There are many sincere reforms (such as allowing well-qualified nurse practitioners to care for your cold at the local store) to increase consumer choice and health care supply, promote healthy living and keep medical professionals from leaving the field.

Big government is clearly not the answer. The free market is already being crowded out in the United States. Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP account for 47 percent of health care costs. But they are going broke, as they cost billions more per year than promised when these programs were created.

In 1965, Medicare began with predictions that it would cost taxpayers $12 billion by 1990. The bill came in 10 times higher. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now predicts new, massive expenditures as utilization rates would soar under government health care. Mr. Obama’s senior economic officials have telegraphed the possibility of huge tax increases to come. We hear the common refrain: If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.

Americans have become deeply concerned about the rapidly growing government role in our economy (nationalization of banks, insurance companies and the auto industry), bizarre centralized economic planning schemes (directives not to hold government conferences in the convention destinations of Orlando or Las Vegas), and the Democratic Congress’ record-setting deficit spending.

Poll numbers have shifted dramatically against the extremely liberal president and Congress because their fearmongering about a looming Depression produced rushed, unread and ineffective stimulus legislation.

The president again has overreached, cynically trying hard to pass Obamacare prior to wide public discussion. In the light of hot summer debate, even Obama now reveals ambiguity as he touts Fed Ex and UPS compared to the U.S. Post Office. Exactly. The left’s repeated prescriptions for bigger government are not what citizens desire or deserve.

(Larry Greenfield is a fellow in American studies at the The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy. The statistics in this article come from the Pacific Research Institue, which opposes universal health care and works to advance "free-market policy solutions.")

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