Time To Put “Dr. X” To Bed
Talk about a party that’s out of touch with the times! This morning on Public Radio I heard a blip from Charles Boustany, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, giving his party’s view on health care policies. And his big pitch was that any new legislation must keep health care decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors, and out of the hands of “government bureaucrats.”
Forgetting for the moment that all too many health care decisions today are actually made by bureaucrats—bureaucrats working for health insurance companies that earn less when more care is given those who need it—Representative Boustany’s attempt at government bureaucrat fear mongering was a jaw-dropping deja vu to that early 1950s campaign of the American Medical Association that helped defeat President Truman’s plan for a national health system like the ones then coming into being in Western Europe.
The successful lobbying of these medicos, terrified that their incomes would be crimped a bit in a government supported system, was to warn the public about “Doctor X,”” some unnamed, faceless government functionary who would replace ever-kindly and all-knowing Doc Welby as our trusted health care provider.
Doctor X won that fight. America lost. We ended up with a phenomenally inefficient, astronomically costly, massively inequitable health care system with government sidebars (Medicare and Medicaid) compared to much less expensive, more comprehensive, more inclusive health systems operating today in Europe.
This isn’t the forum to discuss health care reform generally. But it’s worth noting in passing that after more than half a century, a major political party in this country is still using the same misleading and inherently stupid arguments it used in the Harry Truman era. “Doctor X” may have morphed into “a government bureaucrat.” But’s it’s the same twaddle Americans were hearing when GM was the world’s most successful company and the most successful career women were those who had risen to the role of personal secretary to a male vice-president.
Hey, guys. Listen up, my Republican friends. It’s time to put this one to bed.