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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Just Ditch Medicare and Medicaid


I just don’t get conservatives. They say they support individual freedom, economic liberty, free markets, limited government, and the Constitution.

They also say they oppose socialism, interventionism, collectivism, and paternalism. They point out that such isms just don’t work.

Okay, fine.

Then why don’t conservatives call for the immediate repeal of Medicare and Medicaid? Why do they focus their entire attention on calling for the immediate repeal of Obamacare and its health-insurance mandate?

Surely conservatives realize that Medicare and Medicaid are socialistic programs. The government takes money through taxation and uses it to fund the healthcare expenses of the elderly and poor.

Surely conservatives realize that there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to provide healthcare to people.

Surely conservatives realize that the root of America’s health-care woes lies in Medicare and Medicaid as well as other interventions into healthcare, such as medical licensure and insurance regulations.

Surely, they don’t think that simply repealing Obamacare is going to resolve America’s healthcare woes.

So, why do conservatives continue to support Medicare and Medicaid? Why do they continue to obsess only over Obamacare? Why don’t they call for repealing not just Obamacare but also Medicare and Medicaid?

For that matter, why not also repeal medical licensure, an idea that Milton Friedman, whom conservatives extol, recommended decades ago? Wouldn’t that increase the supply of healthcare providers, thereby helping push healthcare prices down?

Indeed, why not repeal all regulation of the healthcare industry, thereby liberating healthcare providers and insurance companies to offer their array of products all across the nation? Aren’t conservatives supposed to be against regulation?

In other words, why not implement a total free market in healthcare?.

I think the reason that conservatives can’t bring themselves to call for the end of statism in healthcare is the same reason that most people can’t do it: because they’re afraid of freedom. Socialism has seduced people into believing that life is not possible without government’s taking care of people. People are as hooked on Medicare and Medicaid as a heroin addict is hooked on his narcotic. They can’t get off it, even when they know that it’s destroying them.

The best thing America could ever do is to ditch Medicare and Medicaid, immediately, along with medical licensure and medical/insurance regulation.

Ending state involvement in health care would bring an end to the never-ceasing upward spiral of healthcare and insurance costs.

And by ending the taxation used to fund Medicare and Medicaid, people would have more money at their disposal to handle healthcare expenses.

Suppose, for example, that the income tax had been abolished ten years ago. Let’s say that a family has paid $10,000 a year in income taxes. That would mean that that family would have $100,000 in savings in the bank. That’s not a small amount of money to cover healthcare and insurance expenses, especially if healthcare costs are reasonably priced, as they were before Medicare and Medicaid were enacted.

What about the poor?

Socialism destroys our faith in our fellow man. The poor would be handled voluntarily by doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. They would be making so much money (no more income tax on them too) that most of them would have no reservations about helping those in need as part of their regular medical practice. They’d feel good about it.

I grew up in Laredo, Texas, which the U.S. government said was the poorest city in the United States in the 1950s. Every day, the doctors’ offices in Laredo would be filled with poor people. There was no Medicare or Medicaid. I never heard of one single doctor turning anyone away because the patient couldn’t pay. Nonetheless, the doctors were among the wealthiest people in town. They used the money that they were making from the middle class to underwrite their providing free health care to the poor.

That’s the way things would be without Medicare and Medicaid. That’s the way things should be. Charity means nothing when it comes out of government force.

Americans simply need to start believing in freedom and free markets. Preaching free-enterprise mantras is not enough. You’ve got to live freedom, not just preach it. And you’ve got to believe not only in yourself but in others too.

The best thing we could ever do is to go cold turkey and just end healthcare socialism. We need to separate healthcare and the state in the same way our ancestors had the courage and wisdom to separate religion and the state. There is no other solution to America’s healthcare crisis.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.