Conservatives Agree: Socialized Medicine Works!




RED MENACE: The VA Hospital of Long Beach is a part of government-run, publicly-owned, taxpayer subsidized system of “socialized medicine” that serves millions of our nation’s veterans.

It typically isn’t my modus operandi to create blog posts in direct response to those posted here on Orange Juice by other contributors, but I couldn’t help but issue a reply to a recent article written by Geoff Willis.

I haven’t had the opportunity to peruse all of the contributions that Mr. Willis has made, but I get the impression his core political beliefs are quite a bit further to the right of my own, if I’m not deeply mistaken.

Nevertheless, what I find rather intriguing is Mr. Willis has posted a link to a list on a website which purportedly shows that most of the highly-ranked hospitals in the world are located in the United States of America.

According to him, it proves that “with 18 of the top 20 ranked hospitals in the world in the new 2011 survey, the United States shows that non-socialized medicine is alive and well, thank you very much.”

He further opines:

In addition, the United States claims 21 of the top 25 hospitals in the world and 33 of the top 50. Socialist and communist countries were completely shut out of the top 25 with only France breaking into the top 50. The Canadian and Cuban hospital systems, ballyhooed by Michael Moore and the left as shining examples of medical care, failed to place a single hospital in the top 50.

Although Mr. Willis condemns “socialized medicine,” he doesn’t seem to realize practically all the U.S. hospitals he praises depend on massive infusions of tax money to pay for research, medical care, and other expenses.

In fact, every one of them receives some kind of assistance from local, state, and federal governments–everything from no-interest loans to finance the construction of buildings to Medicare payments.

For example, I went to the University of Kansas Medical Center website, number 3 on the list, to find out exactly how much money their School of Medicine was receiving from the federal government for research.

According to page 8 of their latest annual report:

In 2010, the University of Kansas Medical Center surpassed $100 million in external research funding for the first time in its history. School of Medicine researchers were awarded more than 1,250 grants, totaling nearly $96.5 million. Almost $65 million of that total came from National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. These higher numbers of grants and funding are attributable, in part, to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In other words, about 67.3% of the money that their School of Medicine receives each year to conduct research comes from the NIH, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another example is NYU Langone Medical Center, number 1 on the list, which boasts that more than 80% of funds their School of Medicine gets for research comes from–yeah, you guessed it–Uncle Sam.

According to page 17 of their latest annual report:

By the end of our fiscal year 2010, our baseline NIH funding had grown from $126.4 million to $138.1 million–a 9.3% increase from the previous year and a five-fold rate of increase compared to other medical schools around the country. We also benefited from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with an additonal $49.9 million in funding for scientific research.

Even more ironic is a number of hospitals on the list Willis touts as stellar examples of “non-socialized medicine” are in reality government-run systems serving tens of millions of people.

For example, number 11 is Navy Medicine–a health care operation owned and operated lock, stock, and barrel by the Department of Defense, an entity of the federal government, lest anybody here forgets.

Number 23 is the Tricare Military Health System, a single-payer like plan for current and retired military personnel, of which a big chunk of its business goes through the Veterans Health Administration.

According to a 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office, the VHA is a government-run, publicly-owned, taxpayer subsidized system of “socialized medicine” consisting of:

153 medical centers, 882 ambulatory care and community-based outpatient clinics, 207 Vet Centers, 136 nursing homes, 45 residential rehabilitation treatment programs, and 92 comprehensive home-based care programs — all providing medical and related services to eligible veterans. Those facilities provide inpatient hospital care, outpatient care, laboratory services, pharmaceutical dispensing, rehabilitation for a variety of disabilities and conditions, mental health counseling, and custodial care. VHA facilities employ about 200,000 full-time equivalent employees, including over 13,000 physicians and nearly 55,000 nurses.

I do not have the time to go into even further detail about all the taxpayer subsidies the top U.S. hospitals on the list are dependent on–other than perhaps noting many are part of universities funded by state governments.

But I must admit I’m somewhat amused that Mr. Willis seems to be genuinely astonished that a few hospitals from Taiwan–a tiny island nation in Southeast Asia–have ended up being ranked quite high.

That shouldn’t be of any surprise to him given the quality of health care in Taiwan has improved over the years ever since that country adopted–get ready, folks–a Canadian-style single-payer system in 1995.

The “nanny state” is alive and well and whether Mr. Willis likes it or not, it is because of socialism, albeit in a grossly distorted form, that explains why we have one of the most advanced health care systems in the world.

About Duane Roberts