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Rep. Young Supports (Some) Government Run Health Care

Recently I received an e-mail from my Congressman, Don Young.  It pointed me to an op-ed published in several Alaskan newspapers. I encourage you to read it for several reasons, including seeing a classic straw man argument.

But what I want to highlight here is Rep. Young’s explicit support for government run health care in some circumstances. Of course he doesn’t say that in his letter, but he does say:

I am the cosponsor of two sensible and comprehensive health-care bills in Congress right now, H.R. 3218, the Improving Health Care For All Americans Act and H.R. 2516, the Medical Rights Act of 2009.

I haven’t had a a chance to look through HR 3218 yet, but I did look at HR 2516. Sec. 2(b) of the bill explicitly protects:

  • Veterans Health Administration
  • DoD Administered Insurance
  • United States Public Health Service
  • Indian Health Service

I have to wonder, if government run health care is so bad for the rest of us, why do we inflict it on our soldiers?

Another oddity in HR 2516 could be construed as pro-abortion. See this part of Sec. 2:


(a) In General- Subject to subsection (b), no Federal funds shall be used to permit any Federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or control over–

(1) the practice of medicine, the practice of other health care professions, or the manner in which health care services are provided;CommentsPermalink

(2) the provision, by a physician or a health care practitioner, of advice to a patient about the patient’s health status or recommended treatment for a condition or disease;

This language, if enacted into law, would appear to prohibit the issuance of “abortion gag rules.” I personally don’t favor limiting information, but it’s odd to see such language coming from Republicans.

I say the above somewhat tongue in cheek because I feel confident the Republican sponsors of this bill did not intend that outcome. More seriously though, is that this language strips the federal government of rights already exercised with vigor by private insurers. Private insurers can mandate that primary care physicians be consulted before specialists, require certifications before treatment, restrict prescription payments to formularies and so forth. So if private insurance is good, and private insurance limits care to control costs, and if government should be run like business, why can’t the feds do the same thing? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Two things I do want to give Rep. Young credit for are:

1) He acknowledges there is a health care problem in the United States and is putting forth a solution. This is better than the approach taken by many in his party to simply try and kill the Democratic bill without offering any alternative.

2) He is actually dead right when he says:

As it stands today, most doctors are not taking new Medicare patients in Anchorage because even though we have a standardized reimbursement rate, the cost of practicing medicine is higher in this state than the Lower 48. Doctors are finding that taking on too many Medicare patients will bankrupt their practices.

Any health care reform will need to address this problem, which isn’t unique to Alaska.  But that could be addressed by fixing Medicare to address costs in different regions of the country.

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