Thursday, May 20, 2010

On the lighter side

This comment on Megan McArdle's blog, in response to a post on the Massachusetts health care fiasco, is too precious not to republish here in its entirety:
Once again, Megan’s fear of the dawning growth of our glorious progressive utopia leads her far astray from common sense.

This sort of brilliantly-considered, elegantly-designed, subtly implemented policy is exactly what one should expect in any properly implemented progressive system. First you attack the most obvious parasites leaching off the system: the insurance companies. The Mass. technocrats have got those ignominious behemoths right where they want them: losing massive amounts of money. This lets their evil execs know that if they’re not in it for the public service, they might as well get out. Either shape up and begin truly serving the public’s needs or they are welcome to surrender their organizations to rule by the state for the public. Their choice, of course, as this is a free country.

Having begun the taming of the rapacious insurance industry, the technocrats are now free to turn their omniscient attention towards further problems in the system, namely the unconscionable amounts charged by providers. How do you determine which providers are asking for too much? Simple: which ones have made the most money? There are your culprits, to a pretty good first approximation. There is absolutely no good reason to allow health care providers to make these kinds of intolerable windfall profits. That does no one any good. So you redistribute the excess for the public’s good.

Does this mean that the providers will not have enough to spend? Of course not. These are amounts over and above the reasonable amounts they should have acquired. As President Obama once sagely pointed out in a different context, at a certain point you have made enough money. Anything over should properly be taken by the state for the use of us all.

Besides, as [commenter] schtevie has eloquently pointed out, these are not ‘fair’ charges (if there can even be such a thing) to begin with. Not at all. Rather, these health care providers have selfishly used their position in the marketplace to rip-off the insurance companies. Now, ordinarily I think we could all join together in cheering a rip-off of the venal insurance companies by those who provide life-saving medical service but in this particular case, of course, the insurance companies have already been brought under the benevolent boot-heel of the state and so ripping them off is really just ripping us all off. Such behavior cannot be tolerated.

So this is not at all ill-advised or poor policy or any of the rest of it. Rather, it is precisely the kind of vigilant ferreting out of rich plunderers & vile looters from our vital healthcare system by our benevolent progressive overlords that we would expect to see in a socially-just, intelligently-progressive system. We should look forward to seeing much the same policies implemented on a national scale.

And once these far-sighted technocrats have trimmed down the abominable over-charging by hospitals, look for them to fine-tune their approach in further efforts to bring down unconscionable charges. For example, has anyone ever noticed the bizarrely large amounts that top brain surgeons make? No one should be denied vital surgery simply because of the greed of some doctor. Once they have made a decent living, the excess should be subject to confiscation by the state for use elsewhere in the healthcare system. This would have the twofold benefit of making top-flight brain surgery less expensive, and thus more widely available, while simultaneously helping provide the money for other necessary services.

The reshaping of the healthcare system won’t take place overnight. But it will take place. And despite what ‘free-market’ worshipers like Megan & her ilk think, once we get the money out of healthcare, the system will quite simply be better. More availability, higher quality, better outcomes. By pretty much any measure short of “do the rich continue to enjoy their chuckles over the suffering of the worthy indigent?” our new progressive system will be far superior.

You say we can’t let our brilliant progressive technocratic leaders take money from vital healthcare providers seemingly at their whim with no discernible logic just because they ham-fistedly think that’s the best way to control costs? Yes we can!

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