Monday, April 20, 2009

Two From Pacific Research Institute

John Graham and the Pacific Research Institute have published two worthwhile health care items recently.

The first is a short paper on the problems with the proposed "government plan", entitled "Government Health Care Competition: The Audacity of Hope Against Experience".

Graham's bullet points include:
• Instead of a new government plan to compete against private health insurers, President Obama needs to remove the barriers that the government currently maintains against individual choice.

• Even the most benign government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service, cannot compete against private couriers without a monopoly on basic letter delivery.

• By proposing to eliminate Medicare Advantage, a program that allows private insurers to compete for Medicare dollars, President Obama demonstrates that he cannot tolerate private competition against a government program.
The full paper is available here. (Note: In a fully free market, there would be no need for Medicare Advantage, because Medicare would no longer exist.)

The second item was their blog post, "Is Health Care A 'Right'? Not According to Governments Who Run Health Care".

Apparently in Canada, some provincial governments are arguing that health care is not a right, in order to protect its control over state-run medicine and to put providers of private medicine out of business. Here are a few excerpts from their post:
The advocates of government-run medicine base their claims on the notion that health care is a "right." They thus attempt to occupy the moral high ground over those who advocate reforms based on the principle of individual choice.

...[I]n British Columbia, the monopolistic provincial health plan is suing Dr. Day for allegedly receiving direct payment from patients for performing surgeries in his clinic. What makes the case remarkable is that the provincial monopolists have launched their legal attack against Dr. Day based on their new-found conviction that Canadian citizens do not, in fact, have a right to health care.

...As this episode shows, once the state takes over, the citizen hasn't got a chance. Governments are not competent to provide health care as a "right," any more than they would be competent to provide shoes as a "right." Therefore people who define their right to health care differently will have to continue to fight the state to recognize it.

How should it then be defined? When I'm speaking publicly on health reform, people sometimes ask: "Do you think that health care is a human right?" My answer is: "Yes, I believe that you have a right to spend your own money on health care of your choice, free of government interference."
(Read the rest here.)

In my opinion, this latter point is one of the most important issues in the health care debate -- namely that rights are freedoms of action, rather than automatic entitlements to goods and services that must be produced by others.

Fortunately, Dr. Leonard Peikoff makes this case with great eloquence and clarity in his essay, "Health Care Is Not A Right".