Show: Brian and the Judge
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Hey, welcome back to Brian and the Judge. Brian Kilmeade and Judge Napolitano 866-408-7669. Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas who understands the free market and the Constitution better than anybody else in the Congress is also as you may know a physician, and on the day after the President in some oblique, but big government way tipped his hand as to what he would like to do with the federal management of healthcare joins us now. Congressman Paul, welcome back to Brian and The Judge.
Ron Paul: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.
Brian Kilmeade: Congressman Paul, we have 45 Democrats who consider themselves moderates, writing a letter to Democratic leadership saying, “Stop with the secrecy on the healthcare plan.” Do you feel iced out, too?
Ron Paul: Well, probably no different than any other subject because I think that’s the way Washington operates generally, but they’ll just get themselves in more trouble if they go to these extremes and not telling us what’s going on, but I didn’t expect too much, so it hasn’t bothered me too much.
But I’m sure this is business as usual and they’ll probably come up with something and they have the votes and they can pretty much do what they want.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Wow. Well, what do you expect them to come up with? What would you fear?
Ron Paul: Well, I think this will be just another step. I don’t think tomorrow you’re going to have total socialized medicine, of course. But you’re going to move in another step, but that’s the way it’s been going on, Republican or Democrat. You know, the Bush administration took us another step forward, so this will be another one. They may be bold enough to do one party payer, but that is a big, big statement, but they’re going to have more regulations, more cost controls. It will lead to scarcity and there’ll be shortages of medical care and they will not be able to contain prices because if they do, then there’s going to be no services.
You know, if they’ll start cutting fees to doctors and to labs. That’s why the drug companies and other health services yesterday said, “Oh, well, we’ll do it. We’ll hold down. We’ll do whatever you want.”
That’s a long way from the free market operating.
Brian Kilmeade: Well, Congressman, you’re under the belief that maybe Rupert Murdoch is saying this and Warren Buffett is also saying it. They were beginning to come back and climb out of the abyss.
Ron Paul: I don’t think so at all. I think maybe people will feel better for a little while that, you know, in the middle of 1930s, people felt a little bit better but then government came along and did more dumb things and we’re capable of doing a lot more dumb things in Washington like continue to borrow and spend and inflate and certainly the numbers are getting worse right now for the deficit, so, you know, the national debt is going up at $2 trillion a year, the deficit a little bit less, but this is huge and I see no change in that.
So you can’t bring about prosperity just by borrowing and spending and printing money and that’s what they’re doing and they believe that they can stop the prices from going up when the time comes and they’ll all, you know, shrink the supply of money, that’s what Bernanke thinks. I think he’s totally incapable of managing the economy that way.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: What would you advice? What do you say to people who say, “You know, my insurance company is micro-managing my doctor and they’re telling him or her that I have to wait for this procedure and it’s almost as bad as the government and this is the company that I’m stuck with because it’s the policy that my employer provides.” What is a free market solution to all of this?
Ron Paul: Well…
Judge Andrew Napolitano: We’re talking about healthcare.
Ron Paul: In healthcare?
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Yes.
Ron Paul: Well, I think that healthcare is a service and it should provided like any other service. If you compare it to, say, cellphones or computers, in spite of the inflation in the last several decades, those prices went down because they were competitive and there’s new technology and people kept moving along.
The truth is a service can do the same thing, but there’s so much interference in the marketplace and from the very beginning or at least for a hundred years or so this strict licensing of who can do what, you know, why do you have to go to the doctor and pay a doctor fee and get a prescription to take care of a sore throat, which could have been done by a health assistant a long time ago and not involve the doctor.
So there’s very, very little competition in medicine, then when we got managed care, that was in the early 1970s, managed care made it much worse because it compounded things. We had the inflation, that is the money supply increases, prices have to go up in some areas, but then when the government gets involved, those prices skyrocket even more.
So healthcare and education, that’s where you have the greatest amount of inflationary pressures, so it’s all tied into inflation and regulation. You need to have a sound currency. You need to get the government out of the way. Nobody can defraud or lie to their patients or to their customers and the market will take care of these things.
When I started practicing medicine in the early 1960s —
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Right.
Ron Paul: — we never had Medicare or Medicaid and I worked in an emergency room for $3 an hour in a church hospital. Nobody was turned away. Nobody was out of the street begging for care, but today, less people are getting care with all this free medicine.
Brian Kilmeade: So I just don’t get how that is the case because we have 50 million, they gave us the number, 50 million are uninsured. So many are using the emergency rooms for their basic healthcare that doctors are unhappy, hospitals are unhappy, and insurance companies tell us they’re not happy. Who is making the killing out of all this?
Ron Paul: The bureaucrats who run this. That’s who’ll love it. You know, nobody is happy. There are a lot of people in Wall Street that are happy. The middleman has done well and that’s who runs things, you know, the drug companies, insurance companies, and management companies, they come to Washington and they… just think how much money they spent on prescription healthcare, and this was a big business deal. They came and that’s the vote that kept open all night getting Republicans to cave in and sell out to bigger government, but it wasn’t the patients that came and it wasn’t the doctors who came, it was the corporations that came.
So this is corporatism at its worst, just like so much of the other things, whether it’s the banks or the military-industrial complex or the medical corporations, so it’s the last thing from free markets. People once again will say, “See, we had too much freedom in medical care and it failed, so that why we have this socialized medicine.” It’s a complete fallacy.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: One of the sort of footnotes in the budget bill, which I guess you guys weren’t even permitted to debate in the House, was some sort of a mandatory computerization of hospital records. Now, obviously, the computerization of records can aid in their accuracy and the facility with which healthcare providers can get access to them. But should the federal government be in the business of either ordering or cajoling or regulating hospitals into doing this and is there a privacy issue here at stake?
Ron Paul: Sure, there is a privacy issue, and it’s already pretty well destroyed and this is another further step. HIPAA, the bill that said we’re going to protect patient privacy literally gave more access for the insurance companies […] because it was more convenient for them to have everything computerized and it would have been available to the government.
But this further extension of what Obama wants is just setting the stage for the one-party payment and preparing for more centralized control of medicine, so it doesn’t look good. There’s no evidence in the last hundred years where governments can run medical care better than the marketplace. There just isn’t any evidence and I mean, even if you just go to Canada, we’re freer than Canada and people come here when they really need something.
But now, we’ve gotten so bad in running up our costs that it’s ironic that people now will go to India for their heart surgery and pay one-third the cost because we have overregulated and have had too much inflation of our cost here.
Brian Kilmeade: What I don’t understand, Congressman, you’ve probably done a lot more research. We’re going to start diving into this headlong. What countries got it right? What countries are happy with their healthcare? They get the quality, their professionals are getting rewarded for the schooling they’ve put in, the expertise they acquired and their residents and constituents are happy.
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t know the name of one place that really has it right now. We’ve had it much better at one time, before, you know, government started regulating and controlling everything.
But I guess you have to look to other segments of the economy like I mentioned before, you know, when it comes to delivering service, you know, like cellphones. Just think, all poor people have cellphones. Everybody has a television.
I mean, it’s available to them, but the big thing is, you know, originally it was actually the doctors that started off getting monopoly control through licensing that they’ll not allow any competition.
You know, in the early part of the last century, we literally closed down hundreds of medical schools and many of them were minority medical schools because, well, they weren’t good enough. They closed them down, but they want a monopoly control and it was the doctors that got behind third-party payment first, you know, the insurance company and then the government. So Big Medicine is in bed with Big Government just like, you know, so many other corporations get in bed with government as well.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Just getting into the politics, I mean, aren’t even Democrats who admit that Medicare is flawed, that the system is a grand Ponzi scheme. Why would the President even contemplate, because he hinted at this yesterday, on some new system based on the Medicare model.
Ron Paul: Yeah. I haven’t had too many admit it, but I guess that they were half way on it in the sense that they would have to, because the numbers are staggering. You know, I don’t start with attacking medical care because, you know, it’s so difficult to start there on cutting.
But the truth is that Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security, I mean, you’re talking about tens of trillions of dollars and nobody expects it to be paid. The one group of people who seem to understand this better than anything else are the college kids. The college kids I talk to seem to grasp it. I don’t know whether only the ones that know a little bit about arithmetic come to my meetings, but these people say there’s no way this is going to work. They’ve figured it out and they want out of this system, and I think that’s what some of this motivation for these tea parties and this sense of rebellion in getting the federal government out the states in all this. I think more and more people are recognizing that the federal government has failed and they cannot deliver and eventually, we’re going to have to take care of ourselves.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Ron Paul, Republican from Texas, thanks very much. It’s always a pleasure.
Ron Paul: Thank you. Bye-bye.