Monday, December 22, 2008

Ralston and Hsieh LTEs in Wall Street Journal

The December 22, 2008 has printed two contiguous LTEs critical of Obama's health care plans. One is by Richard Ralston, director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine and the second is by myself. Both were in response to their December 9, 2008 article, "The Obama Health-Care Express".

Here are the two LTEs:
Three Big Problems With Obama's Health-Care Plan

You are probably correct that a major new national health-care program will be rushed through the next Congress without substantial debate through some mechanism such as budget reconciliation. That is because many of its elements would not survive close examination. The fatuous claim of Sen. Max Baucus that placing the nation's medical care under the rule of an "independent" council of presidentially appointed experts would not constitute government management of care is only the most conspicuous example. Others include the claim that computerizing those remaining medical records still on paper would reduce insurance costs by $2,500 a year per family.

But the main reason for the big rush is that nobody has a clue how the government will pay for it -- anymore than they know how the current unfunded liability of Medicare and Medicaid can be honored.

The last thing that proponents want is for anyone to ask where the money will come from, except perhaps questions about such details as the individual rights of patients and physicians to make their own medical decisions without the approval of presidentially appointed experts.

Richard E. Ralston
Executive Director
Americans for Free Choice in Medicine
Newport Beach, Calif.

Businesses expecting to save money under President-elect Barack Obama's universal health-care plan are going to be in for a rude awakening. President-elect Obama's plan includes an employer mandate in which businesses must either pay their employee health insurance or else pay into a government fund to cover the uninsured.

A similar mandate has already been in place in Massachusetts for two years. As health costs there have skyrocketed, the state government has asked for more and more "contributions" from businesses. During this financial crisis, the last thing America needs is yet more economic burdens on the businessmen who create jobs and prosperity.

The fundamental problem with Mr. Obama's plan is the premise that health care is a "right" that must be guaranteed by the government. Health care is a need, not a right. Rights are freedoms of action, not automatic claims on goods and services that must be produced by another. Attempting to guarantee an alleged "right" to health care must necessarily violate actual individual rights and will destroy the American economy in the process.

Paul Hsieh, M.D.
Sedalia, Colo.