The “Federal Health Board:” Another Scheme to Ration Healthcare

by | Jan 6, 2009

Tom Daschle, President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, has big plans for healthcare.  Mr. Daschle has proposed a new “Federal Health Board,” an agency that would have unprecedented powers over the healthcare industry.  This new federal board would essentially determine by government fiat what doctors can and cannot do to treat […]

Tom Daschle, President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, has big plans for healthcare.  Mr. Daschle has proposed a new “Federal Health Board,” an agency that would have unprecedented powers over the healthcare industry.  This new federal board would essentially determine by government fiat what doctors can and cannot do to treat their patients.  This represents not only a vast increase in government regulations, but the virtual elimination of healthcare decisions at the point of service, and the specter of government bureaucrats making life and death decisions over physicians and patients. 

Never mind what you and your physician think is the best course of treatment, the “Federal Health Board” in Washington will make all those decisions for you.  You and your doctor think you need surgery–sorry, the “Federal Health Board “has determined that this is not “cost effective.”  Your child needs certain medications to fight a life threatening illness–you’re out of luck, the “Federal Health Board” has determined that these medications are not “efficient” use of healthcare.  Your doctor thinks you need open heart surgery tomorrow to save your life–too bad, the “Federal Health Board” has determined that others with “more need” will come first.   The intent here is obvious:  Mr. Daschle’s proposal is yet another enormous step toward the final end of all government controlled healthcare schemes–the *rationing* of healthcare.

I have spent nearly thirty years studying, training for and practicing medicine.  The idea that bureaucrats in Washington know better how to treat my patients is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on the American people.  And yet this idea is precisely what Mr. Obama and Daschle will force onto all Americans. 

Healthcare is already one of the most regulated industries, which is why costs are out of control.  Whenever government promises a “free” service paid by taxpayers (Medicaid, Medicare), costs can do nothing else but skyrocket.  Demand for any “free” service explodes exponentially.  More and more cry out for more “free” services, everything from brain surgery to splints, crutches and toenail removals.  The government is then forced to begin cutting costs and services by the only means possible to the state:  *rationing* by the use of force, which is the real purpose of the “Federal Health Board.

The underlying and unchallenged idea is that healthcare is somehow a right to be provided by the government.  In reality, however, rights are the freedom to act, not to loot the products and services of others.  Arbitrarily granting someone the right to the products or services of another necessarily enslaves those who must produce them to those who consume them.  And down this road is where America’s healthcare system is already moving –hospitals, physicians, nurses, pharmaceutical companies are all gradually but steadily being doomed to a level of serfdom not seen since the dark ages.  A “Federal Board” is another massive step toward that end.

In a free and moral market healthcare system, healthcare decisions are made where they should be: between you and your physician.  You have the freedom to chose and *pay* for your services, and your physician has the freedom to determine what is the best course of treatment.  Those who cannot afford their own healthcare are dependent upon the charity of others, but they have no right to force physicians and hospitals into a state of government enforced servitude.  The new “Federal Health Board”, however, will take America another giant step down the path of the rationing of healthcare, where power lusting bureaucrats will decide what treatments are available, what treatments the government will pay for, who will receive what treatment, when and where.

The only moral and practical solution is to get government out of healthcare altogether.  Eliminate Medicare, Medicare and the entire bureaucratic machinery that now shackles medicine.  Allow physicians and hospitals to compete in a real free market and give patients the freedom to chose, and then watch healthcare costs plummet, as they have for computers, food and cell phones.  In a truly free healthcare market (not the mongrel “mixed” system we now have), healthcare dollars and effort would go to where there is the most demand, and to those who are most efficient at using them.  If patients had the freedom of choice and doctors the freedom to compete, there wouldn’t be any such thing as a “healthcare crises,” nor would there be any need for a “Federal Health Board” to ration healthcare. 

Richard Parker is a practicing emergency physician. He holds a BA from Brown and MD from Yale University, has published in the scientific/professional literature and has written Op-eds for the Ayn Rand Institute and Capitalism Magazine. He is owner and moderator of www.OActiveAtlas.com, a philosophical discussion forum.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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