Health Care Scare

Ezra Klein talks about “zombie lies that will not die.” He links to a ridiculous Bloomberg article by Amity Shlaes, who raises the dreadful specter of “government-run health care,” which I assume is a system in which heartless government bureaucrats decide what medical treatments you will receive. This would be a huge departure from our current system, in which heartless insurance company employees decide what medical treatments you will receive.

Shlaes writes,

The administration seems almost to relish the sinister aspect of government-run health care. Otherwise it wouldn’t have created a position called “National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.” That’s a title worthy of Rhineheart, Neo’s boss, who tells him, “This company is one of the top software companies in the world because every single employee understands that they are part of a whole.”

Ezra writes,

This idea that the stimulus bill “created a position” called “National Coordinator of Health Information Technology” got its start in another Bloomberg column written by Betsy McCaughey. She called the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology a “new bureaucracy.”

But this just isn’t true. It’s not sort of true or arguably true or caught in arguments about the nature of truth. George W. Bush created the position of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology in 2004. Five years ago. The current director of the office is a Bush appointee by the name of Robert Kolodner. He has served there since 2006. He exists. If you prick him, he will bleed. If you touch him, he will recoil, because he is subject to our laws of space and time and as such was not somehow created by President Obama back when George W. Bush occupied the Oval Office.

What passes for “opinion” in wingnut world comes from the Pan’s Labyrinth dreamworld they live in. Don’t even try to make sense of it.

Elsewhere in Bloomberg News, John F. Wasik writes a nice piece about single-payer.

In a “Medicare-for-all” program, care would be publicly financed and privately delivered. You would keep your own health- care providers and hospital. The government wouldn’t dictate who your doctor is or choose your hospital. It would be acting more like a huge purchaser bargaining for the best treatment and drugs at the lowest price. …

…There would be a national market and regulation for health policies and no one could be denied affordable coverage. No more “cherry-picking” of only the healthiest people and rejection of the sickest or those with chronic conditions.

Wow, think of that.

Of course, even if their ideas are absurd, the fact that the Right is proposing changes means that we’ve progressed from the position they held as recently as the 1990s, and probably into the 2000s, which was that the health care system we have is just fine the way it is, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I believe George H.W. Bush used those very words in his re-election campaign against Bill Clinton.

With wingnuts, things have to get this bad before they acknowledge there’s a problem. On the other hand, they are grand at making up phantom problems (e.g., Saddam Hussein is going to nuke us) and flogging them ceaselessly. But real problems are uninteresting to them.

In other words, they get worked up over imaginary monsters under the bed and don’t notice the roof is coming off the house.

That’s why Tom Friedman shouldn’t be surprised. He writes today about the financial crisis:

Friends, this is not a test. Economically, this is the big one. This is August 1914. This is the morning after Pearl Harbor. This is 9/12. …

… Yet I read that we’re actually holding up dozens of key appointments at the Treasury Department because we are worried whether someone paid Social Security taxes on a nanny hired 20 years ago at $5 an hour. That’s insane. It’s as if our financial house is burning down but we won’t let the Fire Department open the hydrant until it assures us that there isn’t too much chlorine in the water. Hello?

See also Paul Krugman, “Can America Be Saved?”