Saturday, March 14, 2009

Healthcare: Obama Fails, Maloney Succeeds!

"Is this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" No, that was Shakespeare's Helen of Troy. It is, however, the man who solved America's health care crisis -- see below. (P.S. The beard is now gone.)

Is Obama really a socialist? Yes, he really -- really, really -- is.

He wants to "redistribute the wealth," as he told Joe the Plumber (Wurzelbacher). Also, he wants government to play a dominant role in the banking industry, health care, education, and energy. Moreover, he wants to send out hundreds of billion in "tax cuts" to people who don't pay federal income taxes. If that isn't the illustration of a socialist, what is? Of course, socialism is not about solving society's problems. It's about sending other people's money to individuals who will reward you with their votes.

Why don't our beloved Republicans -- including the increasingly clueless John McCain -- put it just that simply? Why don't they explain in 50-100 words or less why Obama is proposing socialism that will strange the private enterprise system? And why don't they then use another 50-100 words or so to explain to the American people why Obama's initiatives will not work? Finally, why don't use yet another 50-100 words or so to give Americans some compelling alternatives. It would add up -- max-- to 300 words.

Why the emphasis on 50-100 words, about the amount that would fit comfortably on a five-by-eight card? Frankly, because Americans are busy people. They aren'tt going to give politicians much time to make their case. Nor should they. American writer Henry David Thoreau had as his motto "simply, simplify, simplify." We must heed those, well, simple words.

Today, I'm going to use health care as an example. Obama has "set aside" $684 billion for his health care plan. How he arrived at that number -- why not $685 billion? -- we aren't told. We also haven't beeb informed what it will be used for. In other words, it sounds a whole lot like the original "TARP," with its $700 billion urgently needed for . . . something or other.

On health care, I used to make a tongue-in-cheek comment: "If we put Wal-Mart in charge of American health care, costs would go down . . . and service would go up." Well, Wal-Mart has been in the health care business for a while. It now offers some 400 generic (prescription) drugs for $4 each.

A number of other drug providers, including Target and Giant Eagle, a food and pharmacy concern in my area, have followed suit. In fact, Giant Eagle was giving away certain anti-infection drugs (generic penicilin) for . . . free.

In fact, mail order houses, like the one my wife and I use, have followed suit by making ALL generics available for zero co-payment. That saves my wife and me approximately $900 a year -- and strikes a major blow for keeping the nation's health costs down.

When it comes to health care -- and pharmaceuticals are a big part of it -- you really can't do much better than free. Of course, Wal-Mart also offers vision care and glasses at super-competitive prices. Thus, right after you're buying groceries at the best prices in town, you can stop by conveniently and pick out a new pair of spectacles.

Wal-Mart has also come up with a new cost-cutting, service-enhancing program. At a growing number of locations, it offer "virtual care" (using web cams). A man or woman comes in and is greeted by a para-medic, who excels at things like popping thermometers in their mouths and taking their blood pressure.

The patient and paramedic are on video, seen by a doctor who's also visible. The physician monitors the actions of the paramedic, asks relevant questions, makes diagnoses, and prescribes medications. The doc could do it from home in his shorts if he so desired.

The "virtual physician" visits cost $59. That's $16 or more less than in my relatively low-cost area (western Pennsylvania). I'll told by my friend in Staten Island that regular doctor's office visits there can exceed $150. That's $91-plus more than Wal-Mart is charging.

Do I hear the words, "Wal-Mart, go nationwide?"

What's going on . . . and not just at Wal-Mart? What we're seeing (with generic drugs and "virtual" physician care) is . . . innovation . . . and competition. The latter is something which has been largely lacking in the health care business for a long time.

What are Obama's plans for competition, which is so essential to driving down costs and increasing the quality of care? Surely you jest. Obama has plans to spend a huge amount of money on something or other -- after which we fear "the health problem" will be no closer to a solution.

Under the Obama Plan, in fact, the main issue confronting sick people will be which happens first: either they get to see the doctor . . . or the line is too long, and they die.

Thus, my Republican friends, my solution remains: to put Wal-Mart (or at least its business model) in charge of health care. And this time I'm not saying that tongue-in-cheek. If we go in that direction, Barack Obama may just be able to return the $684 billion to grateful taxpayers, who will then go spend it on houses, cars, and vacations, thus ending the recession.

Is solving the health crisis really this easy (well, almost this easy)? As America's favorite female Governor -- Sarah the Magnificent -- would say, "You betcha!" As my favorite poet -- well, okay, I'm him -- says, "Life, friends, is simple." (Unfortunately, politics is anything but . . . .)

On Monday? I put back on my Superman cape . . . and solve the education problem . . . again, in a low-cost, high-impact, pain-free way. I hope everyone in Washington, DC, is paying attention for a change.

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