NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 6, 2007

The Canadian experience confirms that government monopoly health care, though billed as "universal," has trouble delivering the goods. Nevertheless, similar schemes being advanced in America have found favor with Big Labor, says John R. Graham, director of health care studies for the Pacific Research Institute.

Under government monopoly health care, almost everyone in America's hospitals, except the physicians and the executives, would be forced to join a union, just like our public schools.

  • A 2002 study showed that workers such as painters and payroll clerks in Vancouver's main hospital earned more than 30 percent higher wages than their unionized counterparts in the city's hotels -- dollars that should have gone to improving doctors' salaries to prevent them from fleeing to America.
  • That's one reason for the long, often deadly, waiting times for diagnosis and treatment in Canada; similar woes would attend such a system in the United States, where every politician seems to favor some kind of big government approach.

Unfortunately, parts of the United States seem to be headed down the same path, says Graham:

  • In Sacramento, where labor unions have a powerful hold on the California legislature, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl just re-introduced a bill that would outlaw private health insurance and throw every Californian into a government-run health insurance scheme, and also take over hospitals' budgets.
  • In Washington, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Pete Stark have long advocated gradually opening Medicare to Americans under 65 by moving more people from both ends of the spectrum, children and aging Baby Boomers, into this already fiscally teetering program.

Government monopoly health care would eliminate the prompt service and high quality Americans have come to expect. But regardless of performance, unions would benefit from it. No wonder Big Labor wants the government to take over health care, says Graham.

Source: John R. Graham, "Universal winners and losers," Washington Times, April 6, 2007.


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