Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hsieh Cited in Re:new Magazine

The February 2010 issue of the British magazine Re:new has published a story on the American health care debate and how it relates to ongoing problems with the British National Health Service. They quoted me as a representative of the free-market side.

The story is entitled, "A Bitter Bill".

Although the article is generally supportive of the concept of "universal health care", the author quoted me fairly and she gave me and FIRM a lot of space on the first page. In contrast, the representative for the pro-"single payer" US group, Physicians for a National Health Program, was not named and received less column space.

The online version of the story is not available yet, but you can see the print version here:

(Use the navigation controls to go to pages 6-7.)

Here is the relevant excerpt from the article:
Despite living in the only Western country without universal healthcare, millions of Americans are keen to keep things as they are. The current system may not be perfect, but the alternative, or so they believe, is unthinkable.

To them, the idea of paying for others is a socialist one, going against their definitions of rights and freedom. Collective responsibility is an alien concept that means spending your hard-earned money on someone else. To these Americans, Obama's "socialism" is only a short step away from communism, the great fear of the 1950s.

Lobbying groups, such as Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), argue that universal health care infringes on individual rights. "There is no such thing as a right to healthcare any more than there is to a car or a house," argues FIRM's Dr. Paul Hirsch [sic]. "President Obama's health care plan -- or any other form of universal health care -- is wrong, because attempting to guarantee an alleged right to health care must necessarily violate the actual rights of those forced to provide such care and those forced to pay for it".

The British National Health Service has often been dragged into the American debate, and Dr. Hirsh believes that government provision of healthcare like that in Britain results in unnecessary bureaucracy. "Whenever the government attempts to guarantee health care, it must necessarily also control it," he says. "Hence crucial medical decisions are inevitably made by government bureaucrats, rather than physicians and patients. Healthcare becomes just another privilege to be dispensed at the discretion of bureaucrats."
(The author apologized for misspelling my name and she told me that it would be corrected on their website.)

Overall, I thought she represented my views fairly, and I'm honored to have FIRM's ideas circulated to readers in the UK!