Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

A Moment of Truth . . . from Krugman!


No way no how under the Obama plan for health-care “reform” (socialism) will government bureaucrats stand in the way when doctors and patients and their families consider treatment alternatives for Grandma. Not gonna happen. She’ll get as much of the finest medical care and technological advances as the doctors and the family deem appropriate. No more of that rationing by insurance companies.

So what do we make of Paul Krugman’s observation while arguing in favor of a single-payer system? “The public sector . . . sooner or later [would] have to make key decisions about medical treatment.” And: “Health care — including the decision about what treatment is provided — [would become] a public responsibility.” (“Medicine: Who Decides?” New York Times, December 26, 2005.)

What explains this clash between Krugman and Obama? Actually, that’s easy: Krugman favors a single-payer system, while Obama does not. Or he does not anymore. Or he now pretends not to favor it. Or something. But the obvious fundamental point is that government has not patients, but instead interest groups, and in a world in which resources are limited always and everywhere it is impossible that government will fail to intervene so as to control “costs.” That is very different from rationing by price and by contract in the private sector, where individuals and families and employers can change their insurers every year. Who competes with Uncle Sam?

Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.


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