Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Update On The "Crazy Letter"

The Denver Post did publish my response to the Jim Spencer column in today's edition:
Jim Spencer called my April 25 letter "crazy" and accused me of violating my oath as a physician because I argued that health care is not a right.

The exact opposite is true. My moral responsibility to my patients requires that I oppose socialized medicine. When countries like Canada attempt to guarantee a "right" to health care, it inevitably leads to rationing of vital medical services. Under their "single payer" system, Canadian patients routinely wait for months before government bureaucrats allow them to get MRI scans or surgeries that are immediately available in the U.S. Doctors cannot practice good medicine when handcuffed by such a system - and many will quit medicine rather than work under those conditions. (For more information, see www.WeStandFIRM.org.)

Trying to create a universal "right" to health care turns patients into pieces of meat and turns doctors into slaves. Neither is right for Colorado.

Paul Hsieh, M.D., Sedalia
The other letter they published at the same time was also good:
Jim Spencer refers to a letter from a physician regarding the "right" to health care as the craziest he has read in some time. Plainly, Mr. Spencer has no idea what a "right" is.

A "right" refers to a freedom of action that an individual possesses. For example, "the pursuit of happiness." It does not refer to a sanctioned or legalized gain of unearned goods or services, nor does it involve the violation of others' rights. These are more properly termed "theft" or "slavery," and are obviously immoral.

A "right" to health care necessarily involves enslavement of health care workers (Canadian physicians have no right to private contracts) and confiscation and redistribution of tax monies.

If it were so easy to provide health care as a "right" by simple legislative fiat, as Mr. Spencer implies, then I cannot understand why we do not end hunger by passing a similar law forcing restaurants to provide food.

The health care problems we have now would best be addressed by reintroduction of the concept of personal responsibility, re-establishment of a free market and the rewarding of charity care. Only then will "rights" truly be respected.
(They left his name off the online version, but the print version lists him as "Michael K. Stahl, M.D., Carbondale".)

After reading the Spencer column and my reply, one of my partners also e-mailed me:
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. While reading Spencer's article, the "looters" from Atlas Shrugged kept coming to mind. Keep fighting the good fight.
I had no idea that he had any familiarity with either Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand, so that was a pleasant surprise!