Posts Tagged ‘National Health Service’
July 24th, 2010 at 9:39 pm
Britain’s Coalition Government Plans to Decentralize Country’s National Health Service

I wonder if new British Prime Minister David Cameron offered any words of fiscal wisdom to President Barack Obama during the two leaders’ first meet-and-greet since assuming power.  If he did, Cameron should have pointed out that adopting an “austerity” budget program need not be code for lack of creativity.

Under a recently announced plan to decentralize much of the National Health Service (NHS), Cameron’s Coalition Government of Conservative and Liberal Democrats plans to “shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health care budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level,” reports the New York Times.  “Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers.”

Already one of the chief criticisms is that eliminating several layers of bureaucracy will cause several layers of bureaucrats to lose their jobs.

To which the Coalition responds, “And…?”   Britons realize that it’s time to make government spending fit within government budgets.  If the NHS is about health care for all – and not bureaucratic full employment – then it’s time to give patients and taxpayers the most value (and discretion) for their money.

If President Obama really wants to impose a stateside version of the NHS on Americans the least he could do is give the soon-to-be nationalized doctors the ultimate say in how they treat their patients.  Doing that would not only give doctors an incentive to stay in the profession, it would also drive up demand for entrepreneurs to fill in their business knowledge gaps with services to manage their new workload.

That sounds like a job-creating business opportunity to me; even if it is born more from government regulations rather than a purely free market need.  In the current political climate, though, it would be an improvement.

March 6th, 2010 at 11:15 am
Health Care “Reform” Will Shift America’s Political Center

Anyone watching the British Parliament’s “Question Time” over the years knows that the one issue that will be discussed no matter which party is in power: the National Health Service.  The NHS is adept at socializing medicine but precious little else.  To hear both Tories and Labour MPs tell it, the service is chronically underfunded, and hopelessly incapable of reducing waiting times for patients to see doctors.  It is precisely the kind of rationed health care that American conservatives are warning will be inflicted on United States citizens if Obamacare is passed into law.

But battling Leviathan isn’t the only consequence of nationalizing the health industry.  As the prominence of NHS during “Question Time” shows, nationalization moves a nation’s political center irrevocably to the Left.  Why?  Because putting everyone involved with medicine on a government payroll eliminates private choices for almost all voters, and with it, the ability of markets to provide competition and choices.  Thus, like roads, utilities, and garbage collection, delays in service and controlling costs become problems for politicians – not entrepreneurs – to fix.  And so, even politicians who would otherwise oppose government control are left with arguing how to manage a failed system.

As Mark Steyn notes:

I’ve been saying in this space for two years that the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in fundamental ways that make limited government all but impossible. In most of the rest of the Western world, there are still nominally “conservative” parties, and they even win elections occasionally, but not to any great effect (let’s not forget that Jacques Chirac was, in French terms, a “conservative”). The result is a kind of two-party one-party state: Right-of-center parties will once in a while be in office, but never in power, merely presiding over vast left-wing bureaucracies that cruise on regardless.

This is why President Obama can push repeatedly for Democratic members of Congress to fall on their swords for a dramatically unpopular health care “reform” bill – he knows the power shift in American politics will benefit his ideology in the long run, even if it weakens his party in the short term.

November 9th, 2009 at 4:14 pm
Somewhere, Clement Attlee is Smiling

Some people have a knack for recognizing a decisive moment before it occurs. Even fewer have the insight to choose (or guess) which way is best when it happens. Count Martin Heinrich, freshman Democrat from New Mexico, as one of the folks who didn’t migrate from column A to column B. When discussing his support for comprehensive health care “reform” over the weekend, Congressman Heinrich said:

This is an opportunity to do something as big Social Security,” he added. “And me, personally, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

Regrettably, far too many liberal politicians think being first (or biggest) is the same as being right. With this in mind, replicating the biggest social welfare boondoggle in American history becomes not only historic, but right, and voting for it ensures supporters of their implied inclusion in whatever laudatory blurb finds its way into next decade’s high school civics books.

However, there is another way to interpret the “historic” moment facing the nation and the Democratic Party. In the aftermath of World War II, England voted for a weaker presence abroad, and a much enhanced social safety net at home. The plan came to be known as the “post war consensus” and can be characterized as:

…a belief in Keynesian economics, a mixed economy with the nationalization of major industries, the establishment of the National Health Service and the creation of the modern welfare state in Britain. The policies were instituted by all governments (both Labour and Conservative) during the post-war period.” (Emphasis added)

Sound familiar? Much like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the leader of the consensus, Clement Attlee, was an unremarkable politician except for the fact he helped create the National Health Service. This put Britain on the path of unsustainable spending and deficits all in the name of a health program that expands coverage while castrating care.

Welcome to infamy, Rep. Heinrich. Here you’ll find no end to self-indulgent paternalism and the undying belief that free people need “free” services from government.