Show: Michael Berry Show
Host: Michael Berry
Michael Berry: We’re talking healthcare, trying to answer the questions that we’ve been hearing from you. Our next guest is a member of Congress, former Presidential candidate and a doctor. Dr. Ron Paul, thanks for being our guest.
Did I hit the wrong line? Oh, my apologies.
Dr. Ron Paul, thanks for being our guest.
Ron Paul: Good to be with you.
Michael Berry: That was a great interview, and then I blew it.
Ron Paul: Hahaha.
Michael Berry: You’ve read the Bachus bill, you’ve one of the few out there that would actually understand it, having practiced medicine. Should we be worried?
Ron Paul: Well, I think you ought to be. I think everybody should be. And I think a lot of people are [worried]. From the views that I am getting lately, you know, a lot of people are very, very worried about it. And our phone is ringing off the line and I asked my staff today… they said we get no calls for any of that stuff, so…
Michael Berry: What worries you most about the bill?
Ron Paul: Well, two things. One is that it is going to cost a lot of money; much more than they claim. They claim it won’t cost anything, they’re going to raise fees and stop fraud and they’re going to pay for it. But the worst thing is that it’s going to ruin medical care. It will ruin medical care and the costs are going to go up. Government has never improved medical care. All they do is pump more money into it and it costs a lot. But all that does is push prices up, it doesn’t improve distribution of anything, whether it’s a service or a product. All they do is push costs up whether it’s medical care or education. The quality of education doesn’t go up by pumping more money into the Department of Education. I think the same thing is true with medical care.
Michael Berry: How do they harm the quality of healthcare?
Ron Paul: Well, for one it makes it a bureaucracy greater than it is now. For instance, in a bill in the spring in the stimulus package they gave the authority to the federal government to control every transaction. Not control every transaction, but to register and measure every medical transaction, everything that would happen. And in one of the bills they had 50 billion dollars in order to just keep records at the federal level to make sure that doctors do the right things, that nurses do the right things, the right drugs are used, nobody every prescribes …, you don’t go to the doctors too often. It’s monitored by bureaucrats. And that’s just very, very expensive and it can’t be efficient.
Michael Berry: I don’t understand what your problem with that is. I mean, they do the drivers license program and that’s incredibly efficient.
Ron Paul: I haven’t noticed that.
Michael Berry: Of course you haven’t. Dr. Paul, one of the issues that comes up repeatedly, and I hear this from a lot of people: are older Americans, maybe they lose their job that may have a pre-existing condition and insurance companies make a financial decision… I don’t blame them for that… they make a decision and say “Hey, it’s not profitable to insure you. The payout would be more than the premiums we would collect”. What’s the solution for those people?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s not easy because the first thing is that government has interfered with insurance and therefore it is not always insurance. They want everybody to have insurance, but they want prepaid care which is a social welfare program. The contract is supposed to solve this kind of problem. One thing that we don’t have, because of the way medicine has been working for the last 30 or 40 years, is that the insurance companies have been able to benefit. They should have a policy like somebody at the age of 20 ought to be able to buy insurance policy that is for a lifetime, and they can’t drop you. They do this with life insurance.
Michael Berry: Right.
Ron Paul: And it is real cheap when you’re 20 years old and they don’t dump you. As a matter of fact, the policy itself says, “Well, okay, we’re going to give you this policy for life. Oh, you just got diabetes and we change it.” They don’t do that for life insurance. So there are some quirks in the medical insurance that have not permitted that to happen, and that’s what we need. Usually when there is real competition, people will compete and try to provide a product. One thing we could do is make sure that these are all tax-deductable insurance policies. If you’re trying to get away from government medicine being involved, what we could do is have individuals have the medical saving account and get everything deductible. What makes it inefficient is when you get the first dollar paid. The routine care should be paid out of the pocket. It’s sort of like car insurance. It’s more like insurance because you buy car insurance and it’s for an accident, or for a fire or something. But you don’t get paid for your gasoline and your repair bills, because that causes a different kind of behavior. You don’t have food insurance, you don’t go to an insurance company and buy insurance and say, “Okay, we all want food.” You might eat differently than I do. I might not eat as much. You might want to eat steak. We’re all thrown into the insurance pool and it just doesn’t work and that’s what has happened to medicine. Everybody is all in one thing and that’s come about because of our tax laws and our ERISA laws and through retirement benefits. This is what has prompted all that. So we’ve gotten away from having insurance for medical reasons. So that, to me, would have to change if we’re expected to move in the right direction.
Ron Paul: Dr. Paul, two distinct issues that often get clunked together… Number 1 is quality of health care, and Number 2 is how you pay for it and how the fact that some people don’t want to pay for it or claim they can’t pay for it. And yet people want to give them some level of healthcare even if it is not a good level of healthcare. How do you deal with the latter issue when a number of people claim they can’t pay for healthcare but they can still pay for the things they want to pay for, like cellphones and beer and cigarettes and whatever else it is. How do you fix that problem? How do you solve that?
Ron Paul: Probably not by offering free services. Maybe some people figure, “Well, I don’t think I’m going to get sick. I’m going to try to get by. If I get sick I’m going to the emergency room”. So, when you have that offer out there it is sort of like, you know, when illegal aliens come in and they don’t have to worry about medical care because they know that they can go to the emergency room. As long as that is the case people don’t have the incentive to take care of themselves. And some of that I don’t entirely understand, but I know that I was raised in the 1930s and the 1940s and my parents didn’t have insurance. We never even thought about it. The costs weren’t that high and my parents were responsible. They would save money and they would pay their bills.
Michael Berry: How did the costs escalate to the point that they are now?
Ron Paul: Well, especially since the 1970s, that’s when government got involved. As a matter of fact, from the 1960s the government got involved and they pushed money into medical care and the prices go up. But there is inflation. Inflation means that the dollar doesn’t buy as much and certain things go up faster than other things. Things that government gets involved in, those prices go up much faster. So it is tough to pay for all these bills. But we don’t have true competition in medicine, either. If you had free entry into medical care outside of the licensing of every procedure, prices would tend to go down. And that is anathema to organized medicine.
Michael Berry: What would be some of those unlicensed procedures?
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t like the idea of licensing for anything. I think if somebody could come to your house and you trust him and he knows how to do his job, but he happens to live in the city the law says, “Oh no, you can’t do your plumbing here. You’re not a licensed plumber, you’re not a licensed electrician”. Well, maybe somebody who’s not licensed and doesn’t have a license can do just as good a job and do it for half the price, and that drives the price down.
You know, in the military 50 years ago… I guess it wasn’t quite that long ago, but it was long time ago… we had corpsmen do all the suturing. You know, you could have clinics and people could do that and you could have competition. Nurses could treat sore throats. And then for the expensive procedures the person that was not licensed but who was properly trained could do it. The only thing is you can’t use fraud, you can’t claim you can do something which you can’t. But there is no free entry into probably anything on medical service. So there are a lot of people who are involved in keeping the prices up: The medical profession, the health industry, the insurance industry, the drug industry, the management companies and the hospital management companies. These all have an incentive to go to Washington and try to get the regulations written for their benefit. And there is no change on that. Even with the administration and all the people complaining “Oh, we’re going to get socialized medicine.” I don’t think we are. That’s when government actually owns and runs everything. But we’re going to have a lot more of what we have, which means the corporations are going to run medicine. And this means the costs will go up and there will be more bureaucracy and the companies will be regulated by government. But you won’t see any quality improvement.
Michael Berry: Congressman and Dr. Ron Paul, I wish we could keep you for longer, but we promised your people we’d keep you moving because I know you have some other things to do this evening.
Ron Paul: Thanks for having me.
Michael Berry: Thank you for what you do.