California's Socialized Medicine Rising
By Scott Holleran
August 17, 2005
This month, in a 73-page position paper, California’s insurance
commissioner, John Garamendi, proposed a government takeover of
medicine. That the bureaucrat who would be governor prescribed more
government intervention is not surprising. But, because the culture
is steeped in the wrong morality of health care and most people do
not grasp that government intervention is the cause of the crisis in
health insurance, they are liable to fall for it and it is likely to
spread across state lines.
Garamendi has no power to activate the plan, which amounts to
another liberal trial balloon, but, since Republicans want Big
Government, too, there is no real dissent—not from the state’s
medical association, not from the Governor and not from the White
House, which did not even bother to defend Health Savings Accounts
(HSAs). Garamendi opposes HSAs because they offer too much choice,
an idea no bureaucrat can stand. With his political ambitions, a
left-wing legislature and with GOP consent, the Garamendi plan is
The government already runs much of the medical profession, by
Garamendi’s own admission. According to the paper, 40 percent of
births and 75 percent of nursing home care in California are funded
by state subsidies. These are huge numbers. While Garamendi admits
that people come from all over the world to receive what he
describes as high quality health care in California, he concludes
that too many Californians pay too much for the best health care in
the world. But the opposite is true: too many Californians do not
pay enough for health care—which is why the rest of us are forced to
pay more. Add Medicare, kiddie care and Republican-sponsored drug
subsidies and you have incalculable price hikes coming.
Garamendi’s plan puts government in control of payment and
treatment. It imposes massive regulations which force hospitals to
spend huge sums trying to obey arbitrary rules rather than save
lives. Doctors who do not conform to government standards, he warns,
will be forced to comply, though he fails to disclose how doctors
will be penalized. Supplies are to be seized from city hospitals and
redistributed to rural regions, with medical decisions rationed
through rigid controls.
It gets worse, especially for doctors. Physicians, it is
written—in code for the threat of brute force—must cooperate. Other
provisions include expanding Medi-Cal, adding nursing subsidies, and
imposing restrictions on pharmaceutical firms, including a ban on
advertising. Businesses must surrender proprietary software and
follow statewide medical treatment edicts which, he vows, will be
governed by a committee.
What do you, the patient, receive for losing the freedom to
choose a doctor and hospital? You get to suffer under Garamendi’s
bureaucratic rules, which regard the individual’s medical record as
a “complex legal” issue. In short, do not expect to send an X-Ray
for a second opinion without signing a stack of papers, waiting long
hours, or going to court. Garamendi’s government medicine includes
regulation of everything from children to grocery stores, which will
be forced to provide fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s also a new
program to force Californians to adopt a “healthy lifestyle” as
defined by a state agency. This is Garamendi’s plan.
Today’s culture is sick with the notion that health care is a
right. When one of his press conference participants proclaimed:
“you need to take care of us,” she captured the philosophical root
of Garamendi’s plan: altruism, the idea that doctors have a moral
duty to serve others, by force if necessary. This is to be your
doctor’s reward for dedicating his life to the practice of medicine.
California’s proposal puts into practice what Insurance
Commissioner Garamendi has long preached: health care dictatorship,
revoking the rights of those who produce medicine—the doctor, the
pharmaceutical business, the hospital, the insurance company—and
leaving every Californian to fight the state for their lives. Every
doctor will be forced to submit or go on strike, which is why
Californians—doctors, pharmacists, insurance agents, and those of us
who consume what they produce—must reject Garamendi’s socialist
philosophy and its cause, the notion that health care is a right,
and insist on freedom in medicine.
Scott Holleran is a freelance writer in California.
Copyright © 2005 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.
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