Show: American Morning
Host: Kiran Chetry
Kiran Chetry: So the American Medical Association does have some serious concerns about a government-sponsored public healthcare program. You share some of those same concerns. In a nutshell, what’s troubling you the most?
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t like socialized medicine. We’ve had corporate medicine now for about 30 years which is managed medicine by the government, and it has been a total disaster and it didn’t do much more than push the costs up. And it didn’t work, so now we only have one other choice, it seems, and that is going towards total government medicine. I would like to see that medicine be delivered in the marketplace like other goods and services. There’s no reason we can’t do this.
Everybody complains about one thing: the cost of medicine is too high, and it is. But they never talk about exactly why. There is an inflation factor involved, too. I mean, we create inflation, but it goes into certain areas of the economy more so than others. The more the government is involved in an industry or service, the higher the prices go. So, in education costs go up way beyond the cost of living, and the cost of medicine goes way up.
So you can’t solve the problem of medical care by ignoring this. Now, Obama says, “What we’re going to do is is we’re going to tremendously increase the services and we’re going to cut all the payments to the doctors in the hospitals.” I mean, where is he coming from? That can’t possibly work.
Kiran Chetry: There are some physicians groups who do support this. One is the physicians for a national health program. They argue that a single payer government run approach is the only real solution to control costs, to remove unnecessary overhead in the current system. Do they have a point?
Ron Paul: No, I don’t think so. There is no proof that single-payer socialized medicine has ever been beneficial. I mean, that’s why in Canada we find many people leave and come here because we do have more freedom here than they have in Canada, and you don’t have to wait in lines. We just have the problem costs.
The other thing that we have all messed up is the concept of insurance. What is assumed as insurance is prepaid services. Insurers are supposed to measure risk. But now when you talk about health insurance that means pay for everything, but we need to see market factors, we need control by the patient, we need an incentive not to waste our services, we need some tax incentives and we need the control back in the hands of the patient.
I started medicine when there was no Medicare and no Medicaid and let me tell you, I don’t remember one time when I saw people out in the streets begging for medical care. Now we do. With managed care and now with socialized medicine coming, believe me, quality will down, costs will go up, there will be shortages, there will be lines and nobody is going to be happy.
Kiran Chetry: Alright, there are a couple of other questions here. One of them is about the doctor’s role. An interesting editorial in the New York Times says it’s not just government bureaucracy, it’s not just the insurance companies, the attorneys that all contribute to the higher medical costs. They go on to write,
There is disturbing evidence that many (talking about doctors here) do a lot more than is medically useful – and often reap financial benefits from over-treating their patients. Many are influenced by fee-for-service financial incentives and some are unabashed profiteers.
Now you’re a physician, do you agree that doctors deserve some of the blame for driving up the costs for healthcare?
Ron Paul: I do, and it’s very aggravating and part of this reason is because the money is out there. Instead of getting better quality and more people served, you have higher costs and people do take advantage of this.
But another reason why we as physicians frequently order way too many tests is because of the litigation, the fear of lawsuits. I did OBGYN, and believe me, I was never sued, but I never forgot the idea I had that if I don’t do this c-section right now, what’s the attorney going to say tomorrow? So you end up doing a lot more c-sections.
If you come to the emergency room you get a $10,000 bill because of a third party payment. Third party payment, per say, is really the biggest problem we have, and the direction we are going in now is going to make it absolutely much worse.