Mark J. Koenig

Fox News: Obama Health Plan Would Cut Doctor Pay

Posted on July 30 2009 11:00 am
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This past weekend Mike Huckabee began his show with a monologue on why he thinks medical doctors should be well-compensated:

“The average doctor pay is less than what members of Congress make, and specialists average an amount that’s not much better, and that’s before you factor in all the free food, travel and outright graft that some members of Congress will be able to add.  I don’t begrudge congressional salaries, but I sure as heck don’t think what they do is as hard as brain surgery or doing a heart transplant…If we keep talking about limiting doctor salaries, we might get people who really aren’t that good, but they were willing to do the job at a discount.”

The Governor makes an excellent point.  Obama recently stated that he intends to make doctor pay dependent not on the number of tests or procedures done, but on the “overall standard of care provided.”  While this might sound good in principle to some, in practice it amounts to turning over control of doctor compensation to a government bureaucrat.  Does anyone think that a government overseer in Washington will make better decisions about their health care than their own doctor?  Can anyone doubt that “controlling costs” equates to limiting physician salaries, which will lead inevitably to fewer and less-qualified individuals entering the field?  This is but one of the possibly unintended but obvious consequences of government-run healthcare.

As is the case with other industries, the solution to lowering costs is to allow more competition and freer markets, not less.  To the extent that costs are skyrocketing, this can be traced to the fact that government already accounts for fully 50% of healthcare spending in the form of Medicare and Medicaid.  Another 25% is attributable to employer-sponsored health insurance plans.  When the consumer and the provider believe that someone else is paying, there is no incentive to control costs.  Put the control of the money back where it belongs in a free market – in the hands of the consumer – and watch costs decline as people make smart decisions based upon their own cost/benefit analysis.

We already have the finest healthcare system in the world – a fact that President Obama would like to ignore in his pursuit of control over nearly 20% of the U.S. economy.  The healthcare “crisis” requires a solution, and only government can do the job properly, to hear him tell the tale, but then what else can we expect from an acolyte of Saul Alinsky?  Obama and Rahm Emanuel appear to be adherents of the Cloward-Piven strategy of manufactured crisis.  The problem with this, of course, is that it leads to the destruction of capitalism and with it, the incentive to excel and to innovate.  As Huckabee succinctly put it:

“If one of the results of the government fixing health care is to encourage the smart people to do what Oprah does and the dumb people to become doctors, then thanks, but no thanks. I need a good doctor a lot more than I need Oprah. And I want my doctor to make a lot of money.”

Fortunately, it appears that Americans are waking up to the very real consequences that will ensue if government-run health care comes to pass.  Let’s hope that lawmakers get an earful from constituents during their summer recess.

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