Robert Knight

Journalists often run the risk of knowing a little about everything, but not enough to make sense. Presidents apparently can suffer from the same malady.

In his July 22 press conference, Dr. Obama put on his stethoscope and white coat and assessed the motives of the nation’s doctors. Basically, he accused physicians of opting for unnecessary procedures to make more money.

“Right now, doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there. ... The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, 'You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out.'

“Now, that may be the right thing to do, but I'd rather have that doctor making those decisions just based on whether you really need your kid's tonsils out or whether it might make more sense just to change; maybe they have allergies. Maybe they have something else that would make a difference.”

Oh, those greedy docs. But this is nonsense. These days, doctors don’t like to take out tonsils. Years ago, they’d operate at the first sign of a sore throat – not to make big bucks but because tonsils were seen as unnecessary appendages highly susceptible to infection. Today, doctors understand that tonsils and adenoids fight and contain infection. Besides, in an age of specialists, the pediatrician or general practitioner typically refer the patient to a pediatric surgeon.

More disturbing is the President’s clear implication that government-run health care could help prevent such abuses, or at least do a better job than private health care. You have to ask, “What kind of oversight does he have in mind? A bureaucrat in every doctor’s office, second-guessing every diagnosis, micromanaging every prescription, every treatment?”

In describing the red tape and problems plaguing the current system, Obama actually tries to sell us on the idea that a government-run system would be more efficient.

Beleaguered taxpayers already have ample experience with government “efficiency,” from the post office to the Pentagon. Government creates waste, fraud, tremendous overhead and red tape by its nature. Any cost savings from crackdowns could not begin to pay for the trillions that will be spent. As Michelle Malkin notes on her blog, the Obama plan creates 31 new federal programs and agencies just to administer the system. All are sure to grow like kudzu.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.