President Obama served notice on Tuesday night that he intends a massive rewrite of the laws governing health care in the United States. Unlike the stimulus bill, such legislation will do far more damage than just the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars. Obamacare will of course be extraordinarily expensive, but far worse, it will radically alter the health care delivery system in the U.S. If the Congress and the Administration get it wrong, the best health care system in history will quickly tailspin into mediocrity or worse.
There is no reason to believe that the incompetents in Congress can successfully overhaul the health care system, or even tinker with it. The free market has produced an extremely complicated but highly effective --though expensive-- delivery system staffed by professionals who are the envy of the world. The great institutions of medicine are mostly in the U.S. The most important research is done here, the most effective drugs and devices developed here.
Other democracies have tried to impose rules on health care delivery and the results are on display in Great Britain and Canada. There is every reason to believe, though, that the United States Congress would fail even to approach the efficiency of those nationalized systems because those systems were developed for smaller populations that were less diverse than ours at a time of far less complexity in the system to be regulated. There are millions more patients and thousands more providers in the U.S. than in either Britain or Canada, and the staggering intricacy of our system should humble even the biggest ego in D.C., though of course it doesn't.
There is no way the Congress could get this right. It lacks the basic competencies to do so. The best, most recent evidence for this vast competence gap is the unfolding story of the wreck of the Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act ("CPSIA") which passed last fall and entered into effect on February 10. If Congress does for health care what it just did for consumer safety, we are all in enormous, indeed life-threatening trouble.
The CPSIA was supposed to set levels for lead and phthalates in children's toys and other products, levels that could be enforced via testing.
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