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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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The Right Medicine for America’s Healthcare Sickness


When it comes to the welfare state, hope springs eternal for liberals. No matter that every single welfare-state program has been an absolute disaster for the last 80 years. Liberals remain hopeful that one will finally succeed. The latest example of this wishful thinking is Obamacare. In the run-up to Obamacare, liberals were keeping their fingers crossed, hoping against hope that finally a welfare-state program would work and would not produce more crises and chaos.

Alas, the fingers are coming uncrossed and even the most stalwart liberals are looking downcast. Statist hopes are being dashed again. Obamacare is already a nightmare, with insurance companies cancelling policies, contrary to what President Obama expressly promised the American people, a malfunctioning website, and soaring costs.

But the real train wreck is still coming, and everyone senses it. Add those soaring costs to unfunded liabilities that are increasingly coming due, such as Social Security and Medicare, and to the costs of an ever-expansive military-intelligence empire, and to the costs of all the other welfare-warfare-regulatory programs, and it’s not difficult to see that out-of-control federal spending and debt, with inflation around the corner, are taking our nation toward one great big economic crisis.

It’s important, however, that Americans reject the Siren’s Song offered by conservatives. Their tune is that if we just repeal Obamacare, everything will be hunky-dory.

It wouldn’t be. Obamacare is not the root of the problem. In fact, the reason that Obamacare was adopted was to address the enormous healthcare crisis that was already facing America.

The only solution to this entire mess is the libertarian solution. That means excising the cancerous tumor that is attached to the body politic. That cancerous tumor is socialism and interventionism. That means Medicare, Medicaid, medical licensure, healthcare and insurance regulation, and income-tax manipulation that encourages employers to purchase medical insurance for their employees.

That’s the tumor, and the tumor doesn’t need a slight reduction. It needs to be completely removed. Radical surgery is what the body politic desperately needs. That means immediate repeal, not reform, of Medicare, Medicaid, medical licensure, healthcare and insurance regulation, and income-tax manipulation.

What about the poor?

I grew up in Laredo, Texas, which the Census Bureau said was the poorest city in the United States. In the 1950s, there was no Medicare and Medicaid. Every day in Laredo the doctors’ offices were filled with patients, many of whom couldn’t pay the doctor. Not one single doctor, as far as I know, ever turned away one single patient. Nonetheless, the doctors in town were the second-wealthiest people in town, second only to the oilmen. They were making lots of money from the people who could pay and effectively donating their services to those who couldn’t pay.

That’s the way things should be. That’s what genuine charity is all about. Medicare and Medicaid are not charity. They are legalized theft.

Before Medicare and Medicaid, America had the finest healthcare system in the world, one that was advancing in quality and standard of care decade after decade. Doctors loved what they did in life.

Today, it’s the exact opposite. Doctors hate what they do and can’t wait to retire. America’s healthcare system is an absolute mess. That’s not only because of Obamacare. It’s because of Medicare, Medicaid, licensure, regulation, and tax manipulation.

Whenever their socialistic and interventionist programs go wrong, statists blame it on the “free market.” That tradition started with the Great Depression, which statists blamed on the “failure of America’s free enterprise system.” As Obamacare moves toward an inevitable new crisis, we are bound to hear the same nonsense — that’s it all because Obamacare didn’t give the federal government enough control over healthcare. Statists will use the new crisis to call for a total government takeover of healthcare. Some of them already point to Cuba as their model healthcare system.

To achieve the right prescription for an ailment, it is necessary to arrive at a correct diagnosis. The correct diagnosis for America’s healthcare woes is socialism and interventionism. The right medicine is a total separation of healthcare and the state. The sooner we take the medicine, the sooner the body politic will recover.

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.