Greece appears to have staved off fiscal annihilation for the moment, yet its fiscal death march into oblivion continues apace. Other major Eurozone players have spent themselves into similarly precarious positions. Here in the US, our gross national debt has surpassed 100 percent of GDP, and the CBO is warning anyone who will listen that very dark days lie ahead unless significant action is taken -- and soon. Last summer, our national credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever, due to the lack of will in Washington to adequately address our own looming crisis. (Quick score card: House Republicans have passed two responsible budgets that control the debt, President Obama has put forward two unanimously-defeated budgets, and Senate Democrats have offered absolutely nothing for three years running). The top driver of our debt is a bloated entitlement system, which also just so happens to be a major culprit across the Atlantic. Ask any average American leftist, and he'll extol the virtues of his side's long-term policy goal: Government-run, single-payer healthcare. Luckily for the, Greeks live in an enlightened and benevolent society that implemented government healthcare long ago. So even as their nation teeters on the precipice of collapse, at least they have "free healthcare." How's that working out?
Greece's rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding. With Greece now in its fifth year of deep recession, trapped under Europe's biggest public debt burden and dependent on international help to keep paying its bills, the effects are starting to bite deeply into vital services. "It's a matter of life and death for us," said Persefoni Mitta, head of the Cancer Patients' Association, recounting the dozens of calls she gets a day from Greeks needing pricey, hard-to-find cancer drugs. "Why are they depriving us of life?" ... Long queues have been forming outside a handful of pharmacies that still provide medication on credit - the rest are demanding cash upfront until the government pays up a subsidy backlog of 762 million euros, or nearly $1 billion. "We're not talking about painkillers here - we've learned to live with physical pain - we need drugs to keep us alive," Mitta, a petite former marathon runner and herself a cancer survivor, said in a voice shaky with emotion. Greeks have long had to give medical staff cash "gifts" to ensure good treatment.
So even before Greece entered the teeth of its current mess, its citizens were forced to resort to bribery to "ensure good treatment" from their bureaucratic overlords. Note the bits about the rationing of basic services, and read on for more utterly heartbreaking quotes. Obamacare takes us one step closer to a single-payer regime -- which Barack Obama himself favored until recently. Indeed, many of its Medicare-fleecing pay-fors are derived from IPAB's unprecedented and largely unchecked rationing muscle. As speculation reaches a fever pitch over the forthcoming legal verdict this president's unpopular healthcare law, Republicans must be prepared to act swiftly in a potential post-Obamacare world. Several market-based, patient-centered approaches are in the offing; we must refuse to further emulate the broken, inhumane European model -- which has many great admirers Stateside:
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography