Obama endorses socialized medicine!

How to fix health policy.
Aug. 18 2009 5:54 PM

Obama Endorses Socialized Medicine!

Wait till the hard right finds out.

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US President Barack Obama walks on to the stage with Veterans of Foreign Wars. Click image to expand.
President Barack Obama with Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief Glen Gardner

The White House may be hedging on its insistence that health care reform contain a public option, but in an Aug. 17 speech, President Obama endorsed something far more radical: a scheme in which hospitals and doctors work directly for the government. A concept less "uniquely American" would be difficult to imagine. Yet this collectivist arrangement is already in place and has been in one form or another since 1811!

It falls to me to sound the klaxon because Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are too fainthearted to criticize the president's enthusiasm for a plan even more socialistic than Canada's or France's dread single-payer systems. Indeed, when Obama last spring briefly considered a free-enterprise alternative, Limbaugh attacked him for being stingy!

"We're dramatically increasing funding for veterans health care," the president told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

This includes hundreds of millions of dollars to serve veterans in rural areas, as well as the unique needs of our growing number of women veterans. We're restoring access to V.A. health care for a half-million veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years—our Priority 8 veterans.

Priority 8 veterans have injuries that aren't service-related. Some of these freeloaders have incomes approaching $40,000. And get this: They became eligible byworking for the very same government on whose teat they now suck. Where's the outrage?

Obama continued:

And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this: One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care. No one is going to take away your benefits—that is the plain and simple truth. [Applause.] We're expanding access to your health care, not reducing it. [Applause.]

You want to know what really burns my butt? The health care these veterans will receive has been certified by the New England Journal of Medicine, the Rand Corp., and the National Committee for Quality Assurance to exceed in quality the care available to paying customers in more authentically American private-sector fee-for-service hospitals. The VA hospital system's mere existence is an affront to everything true patriots hold dear. That it manages to offer an emphatically successful model for socialized medicine in the United States insults the very principles on which our republic was founded.

Quick, somebody tell Betsy McCaughey. This could be bigger than death panels.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.