The Future of Universal Healthcare: A Warning

I am skeptical of socialized medicine / universal healthcare / give the unsolvable problem to the Government and hope for the best plans. Why? Our government.

The New York Times (h/t anonymous reader #9) reports the following:

August 12, 2007

Select Hospitals Reap a Windfall Under Child Bill

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 — Despite promises by Congress to end the secrecy of earmarks and other pet projects, the House of Representatives has quietly funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to specific hospitals and health care providers under a bill passed this month to help low-income children.

Instead of naming the hospitals, the bill describes them in cryptic terms, so that identifying a beneficiary is like solving a riddle. Most of the provisions were added to the bill at the request of Democratic lawmakers.

One hospital, Bay Area Medical Center, sits on Green Bay, straddling the border between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, more than 200 miles north of Chicago. The bill would increase Medicare payments to the hospital by instructing federal officials to assume that it was in Chicago, where Medicare rates are set to cover substantially higher wages for hospital workers.

The article goes on to name names, on both sides of the isle, who’ve used the power of legislation to reward / give money to one hospital over another for entirely non-transparent reasons.

This is before Congress completely controls the medical system. Think Governmental regulations are onerous now? Just wait until every medical complaint is, in effect, a Federal case. “The Congressman’s office called and wants answers” is going to get a lot more attention, and response, than the current complaints. (I’ve seen a tiny amount of this, when in the military: the Congrint (a congressional inquiry) would absolutely stop the Battalion senior staff who spent the next several hours jumping through hoops to answer whatever questions were put to them (usually regarding a complaint from a Marine or Sailor about some percieved maltreatment)).

I’m not so naive as to believe this sort of political foolishness is new, but for now, consider you’re a competing hospital of the ones that just got congressionally mandated favorite-son treatment. Being a hospital administrator is now even harder than it was, now you’ll be expected to curry favor with the Political Class, else your hospital is at a disadvantage, at least. You can be the most efficient system in town, but you’ll lose to the one who gets the pork.

Given the historic levels of corruption in Congress in the last several sessions, I’m now even more leery of turning the whole system over to them. They’ve earned their popularity (24%).