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If Republicans Fail, Will Single-Payer Be Next?

On the brink of socialized medicine...?

July 31, 2017

As the 'Affordable Care Act,' or 'Obamacare,' continues to disintegrate, and Republicans endlessly fumble their plan to repeal and replace it, support is growing in this country for a single-payer system. That concept, originated by Democrats and the left, has now begun to spread, possibly helped by the new entitlements Obamacare provided. The Pew Research Center recently reported that 33 percent of the public favors a single-payer approach to health care. While that’s still a minority, it represents a five point increase since January and a 12-point increase since 2014.

Perhaps more significant is the number of Americans who now believe that, in principle, the federal government should be responsible for providing health care for all its citizens. According to the Center, that figure is 60 percent, the largest number in nearly a decade.

While they have come to see it as a moral obligation of the federal government, there’s no constitutional or legal requirement for government-provided health care. So proponents are left with this simple argument: “America is the only civilized nation that does not provide its citizens with universal health care.” That’s vaguely similar to the kind of logic used by envious children, whining to their parents, “…but everyone else has one.”

The comparison to health care in other countries is simplistic and ignores countless variables, including population size, the quality of care provided, and the impact on the respective economies. What seems to work for other countries is not likely to work here.

A single-payer system, socialized medicine, universal health care - whatever it’s called - administered by the federal government, would reduce the quality of care for most Americans. It would also eliminate the incentive for innovations in medicine. If common sense doesn’t tell us that, anyone who has received medical treatment in countries practicing socialized medicine can.

But the real concern should be government control over individual lives. Simply put, there are no free lunches. The benefactor always sets the rules for the recipient. When the state provides “free” health care, funded with taxpayer dollars, the state dictates the terms – which ailments are covered, which treatments are authorized, and at what time health care is simply no longer cost-effective. The next step on that downward spiral is assisted suicide. In the Netherlands, a country known for liberalism and socialized medicine, a law has now been proposed that would allow people who suffer no medical ailment whatsoever to seek assisted suicide provided they feel they have “completed life.” When does the state begin to nudge the elderly in that direction? When, then, does it begin to make their end-of-life decisions for them?

Barack Obama revealed one liberal’s view on the subject when he casually told one woman during a televised 2009 interview that her elderly mother might be “better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

In practical terms, what nation can afford to provide more than 300 million citizens with unlimited, quality health care, while protecting them from enemies abroad, and still maintain a functioning infrastructure, and a sound economy? That place is called Utopia.

America’s determined self-sufficiency, a source of great national pride, once distinguished us from socialist countries. But self-sufficiency and the pride that came with it are vanishing – replaced in recent years by envy and a growing dependency on government.

Democrats alone created this situation in 2010 by falsely promising too much for too many. After imposing an unsustainable, failing health care system on the American people, they now defiantly refuse to admit their blunder, while magnanimously offering to work with Republicans on some undefined fix. They show no compassion for the victims of Obamacare,
hard-working Americans who lost their choice of doctors, and those who can no longer afford their insurance because of ever-increasing deductibles and premiums. What those victims see as a disaster, Democrats see as a landmark accomplishment and sacrosanct legacy of Barack Obama’s presidency.

So it now falls on Republican lawmakers to do what they repeatedly vowed to do for the past seven years – to do what they were elected to do. This is their only opportunity, and they can’t waste more time trying to thread the needle. They cannot expect to redress each and every tragic health-related situation brought to them by their constituents. They must end the improper and immoral expenditures of health care dollars on issues unrelated to health, like abortion on demand or sex-reassignment surgeries. Their job is to reduce our national debt and to make our country strong and vibrant again. That can’t happen under the oppressive regulations of Obamacare, and it certainly can’t happen under a single-payer health care system.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) recently announced that a single-payer system will be considered as part of the Democratic economic agenda. Many other far-left Democrats have been calling for it for years.

It’s a travesty that Republicans had no concrete, viable plan ready to replace Obamacare, but even if they do nothing more than repeal it for now, they would at least return our health care system to the private sector. Insurance plans could be individually tailored, and crucial decisions on health would again be made by doctors and patients, just as they have been for more than 200 years. If Republican legislators do nothing, Obamacare will fail, and they will be blamed. Democrats could regain control in 2018, and socialized medicine could become a reality in America.

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.