Sunday, March 18, 2007

World Net Daily op-ed wrong about Universal health care being Unbiblical socialism

Now, I don't ever read World Net Daily, but somehow an old acquaintance sent me an op-ed by By Rev. Mark H. Creech entitled "Universal health care: Unbiblical socialism". I was just going to blow it off, but then realized that since health care is a moral issue, I should engage this Reverend. He spends lots of time railing against socialism, but I don't know of anyone that is actively promoting socialism in America these days (Jim Jeffords aside). He actual arguments against universal health care are either based on poor information or intentionally misleading. The Reverend rolls out many of the same canards against universal coverage health care that I've heard before, but they bear repeating and defeating.

The Bible teaches God is a creative and productive being and man, who is made in His image, was created for the same. Economic systems that perpetuate or construct dependence or reward sloth strike at the very heart of what it means to be human. Thus, the apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." (II Thessalonians 3:10) Certainly, those who cannot provide for themselves, despite every effort they can summon, should be helped in the form of charity. Nevertheless, the Scriptures teach that ingenuity and industry are what should be rewarded, while laziness or failure to provide a service the public needs should go unrewarded.

Remember what we are talking about folks. We aren't talking about cars and plasma screen televisions. We are talking about the affordability of seeing a doctor, visiting a hospital and getting medication. These aren't luxuries. This is a basic necessity. Would Paul or Jesus really say that someone shouldn't have access to medical help? Didn't Jesus feed the 5000 rather than admonish them for not packing a lunch?

However, even if you think that health care is more similar to plasma screens than bread, the current figures from the US government say about 46 million Americans are without health insurance. Of that 46 million, more than 20 million are working adults and 12 million are young adults. So more than 32 million of the 46 million are working or not at an age where they can work yet. Doesn't that satisfy Paul's instructions in 2 Thes 3:10? Those 32 million individuals are doing what we expect of them, but they don't have insurance. Are they still to blame?

What is inherently immoral about socialistic endeavors is the effort to equalize economic conditions by forcibly redistributing wealth. To get this done, the right to private property, which God gives in the eighth commandment of the Decalogue, is violated. And charity, which according to the Scriptures is supposed to spring willingly from the heart, is instead coerced. Therefore, the image of God in man - his creativity and productivity - is suppressed, while those who are indolent prosper.

That might be a critique of socialism, but it is a bad critique of the health care system. Unless the complaint is against taxes at large, no one is saying that universal coverage would redistribute wealth. Canada, Japan and Europe all have universal health care as well as rich and poor. It is really a silly canard.

Sven Larson, a policy analyst for the John William Pope Civitas Institute, notes all the ways these negatives would play out in a government-funded universal health care system, which is simply a form of socialized medicine.

It would outlaw private health insurance and give government bureaucrats the exclusive right to set reimbursement rates for physicians, clinics and hospitals. This would not only create supply shortages, but would also likely produce a black market health-care system.

It would transform the state into the sole purchaser of medical drugs and equipment, hampering cost containment and inviting corruption.

It would destroy professional freedom for medical professionals. The government would be the sole determiner of the number of medical professionals that could work.

It would of necessity cap health spending. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, American health providers increase medical technology by 7 percent per year. Such increases are necessary if new technology is to make its way into hospitals and clinics. If the cap for a government-funded universal health-care system like the one proposed in California had been enacted nationwide in 1960, the cumulative effect would have been to lower current technological standards in hospitals to 1982 levels.

Mr. Larson is sorely mistaken about what most folks want. American liberals are usually in favor of single-payer healthcare (like Medicare, where doctors all work for themselves but service is paid for by the feds) but not so excited about single-provider healthcare (like Britain's NHS, where the doctors all work directly for the government). Private health insurance wouldn't necessarily be outlawed. Most proposals I've seen want private insurance involved, but want to make sure coverage is extended to all. The second idea that the government would fail to contain costs and lead to corruption is ridiculous. MediCare and Medicaid have been running for years. The examples of corruption, if any, are few. As far as costs go, Medicare is one of the leanest programs out there. They only use about 3% of their income for administrative costs (PDF). The point about medical professional freedom doesn't make sense to me. We already have strict tests that doctors and nurses have to pass to practice medicine. Doesn't that ALREADY restrict the number of medical professionals that can work? The final point is a concern, but could be dealt with if money was made available for medical research in a similar way that HMOs do it now.

Most importantly, since a government-funded universal health-care system would come at a heavy financial burden to the state, one could only imagine how, over time, it would affect right-to-life issues. It most certainly would make abortion and euthanasia readily available. Children with gestational issues of retardation, spina bifida, etc. would likely require abortion. Vulnerable patients such as the chronically ill, disabled or elderly would be allowed to die as in the Terri Schiavo case, or possibly even terminated.

Talk about scare tactics. Is there any reason to believe that would truly happen? Japan, Canada and Europe all have universal health care, but they aren't practicing infanticide, mass abortions or euthanasia. There is absolutely no evidence any of this would occur. Most seniors are covered under Medicare, does anyone suggest that the elderly are euthanized under that system? As far as finances go, you can't discount the fact that HMOs now cap the amount of time people can spend in the hospital now. My buddy's wife was sent home after delivering her first child with complications. She probably needed another night or two in the hospital, but the HMO said no and they were sent home.

A government-funded universal health-care system will never provide what its champions promise. Why? Because socialism never provides what it promises and neither can socialized medicine. Instead of providing good health coverage for all, it will ultimately lessen the quality of care for all.

I've seen this before, but I'm not buying it. The closest thing we have to universal health care in America is the Veterans Administration's promise to all vets that they will have care regardless of their work situation during and after their service. A VA hospital used to be the kiss of death, but changes over the last 10 years have turned the VA system into a state-of-the-art health care provider. The VA offers both universal coverage AND high quality care. It isn't easy, but it can be done.

Overall, I'm not convinced that God is against health care coverage for everyone. Anyone got anything else?