How does government reconcile our national health care with our general welfare

I don’t think anyone doubts that the government should have an interest in the state of health care in America. The debate has devolved so far into the issue of financing national health care that we may be missing the more important question of our general welfare.

General welfare is one of those pesky clauses in the Constitution that doesn’t arise to the level of the commerce clause. In regards to health care, we probably wouldn’t hear it unless there was a full blown contagion.

We already have an infrastructure in place to address not only contagions, but to provide something more primary like actual access to a doctor. It is by no means perfect, but government’s main role should be the licensing of health care facilities and health care providers such that the infrastructure meets a standard for quality care.

Government ensures that there is a telecommunications infrastructure in place, but its up to me to pay for using it. Government ensures that there is a highway system in place, but it’s up to me to buy the gas and pay the toll.

For the most part, Congress has been concerned with the latter. Quite frankly an infrastructure is of no use to society if it can’t afford to use it. Does this mean that government has to provide a public telephone company to ensure affordable rates and a supply of telecommunications services? No, it doesn’t and the same should hold for health care services.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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One Response to How does government reconcile our national health care with our general welfare

  1. Kenneth J. Ciszewski says:

    “Quite frankly an infrastructure is of no use to society if it can’t afford to use it.” And if you know anything about the history of telecommunications in this country, you know that making dial tone available at a reasonable cost in rural areas where it was very expensive to do so was part of the government’s overall strategy when telecommunications was a regulated monopoly industry. There was obviously some subsidizing of that cost from the other customers who cost less to receive dial tone (in urban areas). Strangely, no one shouted “SOCIALISM” when this took place. Why not? Because the telecom companies were guaranteed a reasonable (but regulated) profit that they could live with, but state public service commissions kept them from gouging. And in those days, business was a little more civil and not quite so obviously selfish and greedy.

    Now of course, competition has replaced the regulation. Has Internet service been delivered to rural areas at reasonable cost under competition? I have a friend who lives in the country that gets his Internet services by a private wireless IP provider. Some days it works well, some days it doesn’t. The big telecom companies won’t deliver DSL to his house because the old telephone wiring won’t support it (the circuit is too long), it would be too expensive, and there is no cable TV!!

    “Quite frankly an infrastructure is of no use to society if it can’t afford to use it.” The parallel to health care is not hard to see. We have a an allegedly competitive system, although I suspect it’s not–who goes out and gets three bids before their brain surgery or appendectomy? In face, in one study, hospitals called did not have a “price list” readily available–they charge a la carte (fee for service) for services, which may explain the big bills. There is obviously little or not incentive to cut or hold the line on costs.

    Telecommunications is even more vital today than ever, but without affordable health care, it is extremely difficult to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, which contribute to the general welfare. We need a different model–like that of fire and police departments. Ever heard of one of those gouging consumers? Health care should follow the public service model. Other countries have done this. We can too.

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