Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Medicare for Kids

For better, but most likely for worse, Democrat Jim Doyle is sworn in for a second term as Governor. He immediately announces his intention to change the healthcare economy in Wisconsin. His slogan, "One Wisconsin, One Future" sure sounds like my way or the highway and that’s not a recipe for expanded freedoms. The starting point seems to be establishing Medicare for kids.

Inaugural Address: We may not always agree on everything, but as a first step, let’s agree on this: in Wisconsin, every child should have access to affordable, comprehensive health care.

It strikes me that comprehensive and affordable are incompatible terms. I’m sure they do reflect a fundamental socialist belief that healthcare should be an entitlement and not a market transaction. You simply can not have everything you desire for a token price in a market economy.

The push will be to reinvent the wheel but fortunately reform does not start from scratch. American healthcare services are very good and there are practical constraints on any universal healthcare proposal.

Jane Galt: 1) It cannot provide less, or less rapid, coverage than the typical American policy does now. 2) It cannot substantially lower the wages of medical workers. 3) It cannot ration end-of-life care. 4) It will not cover immigrants, at least not until they are citizens.

QandO Blog discusses other basic considerations needing to be forefront in opposition to increasing government control of medicine. The primary being that health is not an objective term, so there is no measurable point where it can be stated with certainty that some aspect of the body can not be improved. In other words, because health is an insatiable demand there is always something that can be desired.

Friedrich Hayek on Universal Health Care: Health care cannot really be quantified and thereby presents peculiar problems which must be understood. … He’s arguing that if you agree that even marginal improvement, no matter how small, is “good” (“no objective standard”) then there is no limit as to how much you can spend for marginal improvement. Without an objective standard for making judgments as to how much care and effort are enough care and effort, the want is infinite.

“The problems raised by a free health service are made even more difficult by the fact that the progress of medicine tends to increase its efforts not mainly toward restoring working capacity but toward the alleviation of suffering and the prolongation of life; these, of course, cannot be justified on economic but only on humanitarian grounds.

Jane Galt alludes to the fact that Medicare is essentially unlimited end of life entitlement spending, and the market distortion of this humanitarian program has ripple effects on all other healthcare costs. The Democrats want to move ever more spending under planning rather than market control and this is exactly the wrong direction to take.