A Doctor's ViewPoint

A Doctor's Viewpoint

Op-Ed for the Newport News Times
by Jerry Robbins, MD

HCAO is not an entitlement.

I cannot help but respond to the letter to the editor by Patrick Hazel in the July 7th (and July 12th) News-Times.

Mr. Hazel and I obviously disagree rather completely about the underlying philosophy of single-payer health care. He writes that “the slave mentality” of US citizens, “nurtured by an entitlement environment,” is the main reason that single-payer health care is “even included in the current political discourse.” He notes that “government is not inherently bad” but sometimes does not achieve good outcomes.

Mr. Hazel goes on to quote Milton Friedman and Ralph Reed about how bad an idea is public education. He seems to equate the badness of the idea of public education with the badness of the idea of public health care.

In response I would first of all point out that the two “experts” quoted are both very far to the right of the political spectrum; i.e. not mainstream. Ralph Reed is just to the left of Attila the Hun. In 2001 Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote that our current health care system is not working. He advocated instead for getting both the government and private insurance companies out of the picture, but events since have proved that free market economics do not apply to health care.

I believe that universal health care is as business-friendly as it is people-friendly. All the rest of the most advanced economies have some form of universal health care, because the economics make sense. These other countries all are paying half as much as we do of GDP for better health outcomes. Their businesses do not have to deal with health insurance companies, worker’s compensation, or workers who are hanging on to their jobs just to pay for health insurance. Workers have the comfort of health insurance wherever and whenever.

I agree with Mr. Hazel that government is not inherently bad. It is a tool for providing services that we need, like roads, police and fire departments, the military, and schools. The pioneers who settled our American West were certainly rugged individualists, but as soon as there were enough people in an area to form a town, one of the first institutions was a public school. Point being, there is a place for both individualism AND collectivism.