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Two ways to look at health care – Pacific Research Institute

Two ways to look at health care

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, had a captive audience Monday. During a meeting with New Britain business leaders, Peter Knaus, a builder in the city, wanted to understand why the Obama Administration believes we can’t get the economy back on track without first fixing the health-care system.

“I understand there are problems in health care,” Knaus said. “But the relationship between the two sounds asinine to me.”

Murphy explained there is a fine line between health care and the overall economy, and that consumer confidence now is crucial. The first-time home buyer tax credit, for example, is important. During this Congressional recess, Murphy will get the word out on it.

“People should know that it’s a great time to buy a house,” Murphy said.

Warming to the health-care issue, he said: “One reason our export business is in trouble is because we have an expensive health-care system.” Murphy said he and the President approach health care the same way “through the prism of cost.” Most traditional Democratic plans talk about coverage, he said. But for him — and Obama— cost comes before coverage. We’re going to continue to have our employers offer a basic health-care system, Murphy said. The answer is to lower the cost of health care. We need to look for opportunities to spend less.

Though this was not a symposium on health care, author Sally Pipes, head of the Pacific Research Institute, came to mind. Pipes, a champion of the free market system, takes a different view of health care. In fact, she’s written a book, “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide.”

Pipes warns against expanding the Medicare system and cites studies showing that Medicare officials waste as much as $1 out of every $3 the program spends.

Other myths debunked: Those “costly” prescription drugs actually reduce medical spending because they substitute for more costly alternative treatments like hospitalization and surgery.

The Obama Administration is strong on prevention. Sounds good. Not to Pipes. She believes regulating personal behavior to reduce medical expenses doesn’t work. Her warning: “Today’s soft-serve despots are yesterday’s prohibitionists.”

The Obama Administration is also hopeful that information technology will reduce healthcare expenses. But Pipes writes there are presently 12 different federal agencies overlapping oversight when it comes to health-care technology. “This dirty dozen already produces mountains of red tape and conflicting rules.”

Then, too, with nationalized health care, there is the inevitable waiting for treatment and surgery; often its care is rationed and depends on bureaucratic decisions.

Most of us agree something needs to be done about health care. Some of us believe that only with a free-market system can we reach those lower costs and quality we all want.

Scott Whipple can be reached at swhipple@newbritainherald.com or by calling (860) 225-4601, ext. 319.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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