Dr. Hsieh Makes the Case Against Medical Licensing

In a July 31 talk hosted by Liberty On the Rocks, Dr. Paul Hsieh made the case against medical licensing. The event was held on what would have been Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday, and Hsieh drew on Friedman’s work on licensing. (Hsieh noted that he does not agree with all of Friedman’s other positions.)

Hsieh argued that, far from guaranteeing the competency of doctors, medical licenses tend to lull patients into a false sense of security.

Moreover, Hsieh argued, licenses put doctors under the thumb of politicians, who in some cases have already tried to use threats of license revocation to force doctors to behave in ways that politicians deem best.

Watch the entire, 20-minute talk:

Kopel on ObamaCare SCOTUS Ruling

Constitutional scholar Dave Kopel discussed the ObamaCare SCOTUS ruling July 9 at Liberty On the Rocks, Flatirons. He argued that, despite the court’s troubling ruling on the taxing power, in other ways the ruling provides important Constitutional protections of our liberties.

Kopel spoke for about an hour to a crowd of around fifty people; I extracted a series of ten videos encompassing most of his remarks.

Kopel began by discussing the commerce clause, noting that the ruling offers a relatively restrained reading of that clause more consistent with original understanding:

Next Kopel addressed the meaning of the “necessary and proper” clause, noting that the court’s ruling moved interpretation of that clause closer to original understanding:

What about Medicaid spending? Kopel points out that the Court’s ruling has profound implications for states’ ability to manage their own budgets.

Of course, the Court dramatically expanded the Congressional taxing authority, and that part of the ruling is the most problematic. Kopel discusses ObamaCare’s “Seinfeld tax on nothing.”

Did Justice Roberts make a “switch in time” because of political pressure? Kopel discusses the possibility:

What is the state of legal academia? Kopel argues that it was bad but that it is getting much better.

Is the Tenth Amendment meaningless? Hardly, argues Kopel.

Ultimately, the Constitution lives in the hearts and minds of the American people. “It is up to the American people to maintain our political system of constitutional liberty,” Kopel argues.

Judicial review is proper, Kopel argues, but not sufficient to maintain liberty.

Finally, Kopel discusses other possible legal challenges to ObamaCare.

See also Randy Barnett’s op-ed and interview about the decision.

Coloradans Rally Against ObamaCare, SCOTUS Ruling

Today around two hundred Coloradans rallied at the state capitol in Denver to protest ObamaCare and the Supreme Court decision upholding the individual mandate under the Congressional taxing authority.

Read Tim Hoover’s article over at the Denver Post—then check back here for the most important information (which Hoover ignored). I refer to the talks by Dr. Jill Vecchio (shown in the photo) and constitutional scholar Rob Natelson, the video of which is embedded below.

Vecchio explained that ObamaCare forces doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath:

Natelson, one of the leading experts on the original meaning of the Constitution, argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling constitutes sophistry:

Below are a few additional images from the rally; see my Picasa album for more. (You’ll notice that I posted the photos as Creative Commons.)

Bob Beauprez meets Vecchio:

Bill Faulkner and Jason Letman:

Felix Diawuoh, an immigrant from Ghana:

Jeff Crank, Colorado director for Americans for Prosperity (the group hosting the rally):

More soon!

Coloradans Lead the Fight for Liberty in Medicine

Yes, I’m disappointed by today’s ObamaCare ruling by the Supreme Court. (You can find my further remarks over at The Objective Standard blog.) I am not terribly surprised by the ruling; John Roberts was merely following today’s common conservative legal theory to the effect that the Supreme Court should do whatever backflips are necessary to jam congressional legislation into the framework of the Constitution. (I’ll have more to say about this later.)

Here, I wanted to first point out that this is hardly the end of the fight, and second thank those Coloradans who have played such an important part in the fight to establish liberty in healthy care.

This is not the time for defeatism, for disillusionment, for pessimism, or for sulking. This is the time to stoke one’s motivation and help rally the lovers of liberty to the cause of freedom in medicine.

I think the Supreme Court erred in its judgment today. But the Supreme Court defines the limits of Congressional action, not its ideal state. Just because the Court allows it, doesn’t mean Congress must enact it.

Now the battle must move to the cultural arena—where it has always been fought at the most fundamental level. In a way, today’s ruling brings a certain clarity to the issue, for who can deny that we face a basic choice between liberty in medicine and government-controlled medicine? Either the individual is in control of his own life, his own health, his own choices, his own body, or the government is.

The fight to bring about liberty and free markets in medicine is just beginning.

And the side of liberty already has tremendous momentum, thanks in large part to the work of scholars and activists here in Colorado. I want to take this opportunity to thank some of them and link to some of their work.

Dave Kopel and Rob Natelson

Legal scholars Kopel (shown in the photo) and Natelson did tremendous work explaining the limits of the “necessary and proper clause.” Notably, the Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare is not permissible under that clause (but rather under Congress’s taxing authority).

Kopel has also written extensively about the implications of ObamaCare, as in an article for the Volokh Conspiracy.

Earlier this year I interviewed Kopel about the mandate.

Paul Hsieh

Radiologist Paul Hsieh cofounded Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine. He coauthored an article chronicling the history of government intervention in medicine, and he continually writes blog posts and articles on health policy.

Hsieh wrote an article for today’s PJ Media in which he argues:

Ultimately, the political fight against ObamaCare must be part of a broader fight for limited government that respects our freedoms. The proper function of government is to protect individual rights, such as our rights to free speech, property, and contract. Only those who initiate physical force or fraud can violate our rights. A properly limited government protects us from criminals who steal, murder, etc., as well as from foreign aggressors. But it should otherwise leave honest people alone to live peacefully, not deprive us of our freedoms in the name of “universal health care.”

Jill Vecchio

Vecchio, another medical doctor, has delivered numerous talks on health policy. She recorded a multi-part video commentary on ObamaCare.

Linda Gorman

Gorman, an economist with the Independence Institute, has written about health policy for many years. I have benefited enormously from her detailed and technical understanding of health laws and their implications.

Brian Schwartz

Schwartz writes for the Institute’s Patient Power Now blog. He keeps abreast of the latest news related to health care, and he shares this news with the wider community.

Thanks to the amazing work of these scholars, doctors, and activists—and many other Coloradans who have made the case for liberty in medicine—much of the public is aware of the dangers posed by ObamaCare and open to serious discussions about replacing today’s government-controlled health care with a free market.

That is the cause for which we must continue to fight.

Birth Control Mandate Violates Individual Rights, Muell Argues

At a recent talk at Liberty On the Rocks in Denver, Amanda Muell argued that the birth control insurance mandate violates individual rights. She compared it to a law forcing restaurants to offer more extravagant and more expensive meals that customers wish to buy. The mandate does not merely violate religious liberty, she said, but individual rights.

Kopel: ObamaCare Mandates Unconstitutional

I caught up with Constitutional scholar Dave Kopel at the Independence Institute’s annual banquet February 16. In these two short videos, he explains why the Medicaid mandate as the individual mandate (to purchase health insurance) under ObamaCare are unconstitutional.

First Kopel argues that the Medicaid mandate violates the principles of federalism:

Next he argues that the Constitution never granted Congress the power to compel people to purchase products.

See also the complete briefs against the Medicaid mandate and the individual mandate.

Health Responsibility (In My PJs)

Pajamas Media has published my latest article, “Health Insurance and Personal Responsibility,” a reply to Wolf Blitzer’s remark about letting people without health insurance die.

While my piece was in processing, several others wrote about the issue as well, including Mike Rosen and John Goodman (who in turn links to several other articles on the matter). See also my previous post, “Tea Party Crowd Cheers Voluntary Health Charity.”

Following are some of my favorite quotes from the PJ article:

… Blitzer’s question presumes that the only three alternatives are overpriced insurance, letting him die, or forcing others to pay for his care. Thankfully, the real world offers us far better options. …

“Society” has no right to violate the rights of minorities or of individuals. Doctors, hospitals, and individuals who wish to help pay for others’ care remain free to do so, but they should not be forced by federal politicians to do so.

The deeper problem, the real reason a healthy 30 year old grows tempted to forgo health insurance, is that politicians have made the costs of health care and insurance ludicrously expensive. …

Free-market reforms make it easier for people to live and pursue a healthy and autonomous life. In moving toward that goal, all that needs to die are the misguided political controls on health care and insurance that have so thoroughly debilitated those fields.

Check out the complete article!

Tea Party Crowd Cheers Voluntary Health Charity

According to a YouTube video by Talking Points Memo about the GOP debate of September 12, the “Tea Party Crowd Cheers Letting Uninsured Die.”

Here’s how Curtis Hubbard, the editorial page editor of the Denver Post, describes the scene: “Cheering for people without insurance to die? Unbelievable.” [Note: Please see the update below.]

Mike Littwin, a member of the Denver Post‘s editorial board, writes:

I don’t want to say the crowd was rough, but when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul whether a doctor should refuse to treat a 30-year-old man in a coma who had failed to buy his own health insurance, some in the crowd shouted, “Yes, yes.”

I’m serious. I’m a little shocked, but I’m deadly serious.

If “half the truth is a great lie,” then Talking Points Memo, Hubbard, and Littwin are great liars. [December 1 Update: See my post, Belated Apology to Littwin regarding this line.]

So let’s back up and look at the entire sequence.

Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul (whose candidacy I do NOT support):

Let me ask you this hypothetical question.

A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that? … He doesn’t have [health insurance], and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

Paul answers, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody…”

At this point, as the video makes clear, the audience interrupts with applause.

Blitzer cuts in, “But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?”

At that point, at least three idiots in the audience scream, “Yea!” Is this the “Tea Party Crowd?” No. Littwin at least gets that point right. The few chanting “Yea” are not representative of the crowd or of the Tea Party movement. (They are not even known to be self-identified Tea Partiers, though I suspect they are.)

Obviously every large crowd has its idiots. This is true of Tea Party crowds, leftist crowds, union crowds, etc. Notice that those leftists who wish to demonize the entire Tea Party movement based on the idiocy of a tiny minority at the fringe of that movement do not similarly wish to condemn the entire left when a few leftists call for (or enact) violence, racism, or other variants of destructive stupidity (even though such things are much more prevalent on the left). So how about some intellectual honesty here?

Notably, the Talking Points Memo video dishonestly cuts off at this point. But the transcript proceeds:

PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: And we’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea, that’s the reason the cost is so high.

The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. It kowtows to the insurance companies and the drug companies, and then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar, we have lack of competition.

There’s no competition in medicine. Everybody is protected by licensing. And we should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want.

(APPLAUSE)

This combination of free-market policy reforms in conjunction with voluntary charity is more typical of Tea Party beliefs, and it is what I advocate. (I would also favor the hospital sending this man “who makes a good living” the bill once he recovers.) For Talking Points Memo, Hubbard, and Littwin to mention the moronic tiny few chanting “Yea” to the “let him die” line, then to ignore Paul’s substantive answer and the general audience approval of that, is, as I suggested, less than fully honest.

But, hey, they’re talking about the Tea Party, so any smear goes, right?

September 14 Update: After I posted this material, Hubbard added on Twitter, “You infer my comment was directed at entire audience instead of at those who cheered. But you have your defending to do…” Apparently, then, he is claiming that his original comment was not“directed at the entire audience,” but only “at those who cheered.” Fine. Fair enough.

But, as should be obvious, I am not “defending” those who cheered the “let him die” line; I thought calling them “idiots” and “morons” adequately conveyed my attitude. As for Paul’s actual remarks on this issue, and the actual crowd’s response to them (as opposed to the earlier response by the few idiots), those do not need defending, which was the point of the post.

I did hesitate to include Hubbard’s remark with the other two. Talking Points Memo clearly smears Tea Partiers; Littwin ties the few idiots to the Tea Party, leaving to implication that they are representative. Hubbard, on the other hand, merely says that it is “unbelievable” that there was “cheering for people without insurance to die.” He was right to make the criticism.

The problem, and it is a minor one, is that Hubbard neglected the broader context, which is that the overwhelming majority of the audience supported Paul in taking the opposite stand of the few idiots. I read Hubbard’s subsequent Tweets, and he uttered not a word about that key fact, though he did manage to post numerous updates about a football game. I think if the first part of the story merits attention, then so does the second part, particularly as the second part reveals attitudes much more representative of the crowd.

ObamaCare Might Fund Viagra for Sex Offenders

Most of the attack ads I’ve seen this political season take something out of context. These ads, while technically correct, omit relevant context and thus lie by omission. However, a recent attack ad against Congressman Ed Perlmutter is technically incorrect, because it uses the word “can” rather than “might.”

A group called American Action Network ran the ad, which stated: “Apparently, convicted rapists can get Viagra paid for by the new health care bill… with my tax dollars… and Congressman Perlmutter voted for it.”

Adam Schrager of 9News explains:

The new health law treats sex offenders who are not incarcerated the same way the old law did. They can buy any health plan they choose. Some might cover drugs like Viagra, some might not. The new law doesn’t say anything about these types of drugs. As for the new health care law, the exchanges the government will be setting up as a low-cost alternative have not yet been set up, so no one knows what medications they will cover.

Schrager cites a document from FactCheck.org, an outfit run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center — a group that clearly favors the Democratic health bill despite the group’s self-proclaimed “nonpartisan” status.

The FactCheck.org document specifically attacks Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who ran an ad against her opponent similar to the ad against Perlmutter. Yet FactCheck.org frankly admits:

There’s nothing in the legislation that supports, requires or even mentions such prescriptions. It also is true that the Congressional Research Service said that nothing in the health care law would mandate that health plans “limit the type of benefits that can be offered based on the plan beneficiary’s prior criminal convictions.” The new law will be just like the old: Convicts who are not in prison, including those convicted of sex offenses, will be able to buy any health plan they choose, some of which may cover drugs that treat erectile dysfunction. And former prisoners will be able to buy plans from the state-administered health exchanges with tax subsidies, if they qualify. The health exchanges aren’t set up yet, so it’s not clear whether Viagra (and similar drugs) will be one of the medications exchange plans cover.

In other words, the Democratic health bill may very well use tax funds to pay for Viagra for sex offenders — we simply don’t know yet. (For more on the report from the Congressional Research Service, see this news article from Fox.)

As Lynn Bartels reports, 9News yanked the ad against Perlmutter — apparently preferring to make money only off of more subtle forms of deceit.

But most people are missing the important issues here. Allow me to review them.

1. The fact that we don’t even know whether ObamaCare will fund Viagra for sex offenders points to a major, catastrophic problem with the bill: it is an open-ended, bureaucrat-empowering, arbitrary, and capricious political takeover of health care. We already see the capricious nature of the bill with the recent waivers granted to various politically-connected companies.

2. Politicized health care turns many issues into political footballs. What benefits will the government fund, and what benefits won’t it fund? Viagra for sex offenders? Viagra for anybody? Drug and alcohol recovery? Psychotherapy? Chiropractic care? Massage? Aroma therapy? Long before the passage of the Democratic health bill, special interests lined the halls of Congress and state capitols, lobbying to mandate their own favored benefits by force of law. ObamaCare will only make this problem much, much worse.

3. Over time, ObamaCare will increasingly drive (nominally) “private” health insurance off the market, so more and more people will be forced to buy their insurance through the political “exchange.”

4. The mere fact that any health insurance funds Viagra (for anybody) points to the political manipulation of health care over the past few decades. Because of the the distortions arising from the tax code, most Americans treat health insurance predominantly as pre-paid health care, not as real insurance. Thus, much of the optional, low-cost, routine, and expected care that would otherwise be paid out of pocket is instead paid through higher insurance premiums, which dramatically reduces the incentive to economize on such care.

So, while Colorado’s major media outlets obsess over a trivial detail — whether ObamaCare “can” or merely “might” subsidize Viagra for sex offenders — they are missing the bigger picture and the real problems with Perlmutter’s vote for the health bill.

***

Comment

Tony October 29, 2010 at 2:28 PM
Ari,
Thanks for the common sense talk. The problem with Hyperbole is that it discredits the entire movement. Common-sense talk, getting back to the basics and what is rather than what might be is the way to address these problems.
It’s like I always say:
“If you liked the way they handled the Iraq war and the TARP and Stimulus funds… If you like the VA and want some more of that, and think that the response to Katrina was spot on… then I think it’s time to give them control of your health care as well.”