Many critics of the Democrats’ “healthcare reform” call it “socialized medicine.” Advocates respond, condescendingly, that since the government would not own the means of production, and physicians would not be salaried by the American equivalent of the British National Health Service, this is not socialism. Physicians and hospitals would still be “private,” as in Canada.
So let’s work backward: Start with the definition, then think of the word. These are the characteristics of the plan. It is: (1) compulsory; (2) redistributive; (3) collectivized; (4) centralized; (5) dictatorial; (6) oppressive; and (7) intrusive.
Even if there is as means of opting out and seeking private care, everyone will be forced to pay, either through “premiums,” taxes, or both.
Effective premiums, net of subsidies, will be based on income, and are thus a mechanism for redistributing wealth.
Not only is payment collectivized. The whole ethic of medicine is to be transformed. Physicians are to be held responsible for optimizing the health of the state, and patient care is to be prioritized on that basis. The individual patient may be sacrificed to the good of the whole.
Planning is to be centralized. Thousands of decisions will be delegated to the Secretary of Health and Human Services or other unelected federal executive agencies.
Decisions will be immune from administrative or judicial review, as well as from political influence. The power of the Secretary or Board is supreme and absolute.
Everyone will be subject to constant reporting requirements: to the IRS for determining premiums, subsidies, and compliance with purchasing requirements—and to “health plans” for determining “eligibility.” Before each and every encounter, the plan’s infrastructure will enable a decision about whether a particular patient is “eligible” to receive a particular treatment from a particular provider at a particular time—as well as the charge and the responsibility for payment. Penalties for failure to report, or inaccurate reporting, are very severe. Clearly, “universal coverage” does not mean universal access to care, but rather barriers and checkpoints at every step.
To enable the detailed calculus of benefits and payments, monitoring will be very intrusive—hence the requirement for everyone to have an electronic “health” record, which could include practically anything of interest to the government, including gun ownership or political attitudes.
The Democrats’ “reform” empowers the federal government to control all Americans, whether as patients or medical professionals—and one-sixth of the economy. As most people are willing to spend their last dime for medical treatment that could relieve pain or extend their lives, what better source for extracting the revenue to keep the bankrupt federal government, with its 20 million mostly overpaid employees, functioning for a few more years?
The plan fulfills the fundamental axiom of socialism: from each according to his means, and to each according to his need, with terms defined by the central planners. “Socialized medicine,” however, does not adequately describe this plan. It is even more audacious than a Ponzi scheme, as it attempts to postpone the real emergency—the day of reckoning for earlier Ponzi schemes—beyond the next election.
The word is “tyranny.”