What is Government's Role
in Health Policy?
Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche, Jr. conducted an 80-minute webcast dialogue on Jan. 6 with 18 medical professionals. The audio was broadcast live on his campaign website, www.larouchecampaign.org. Here is an excerpt from his opening statement, in which he outlined five essential points.
... First of all, let's consider the health-care crisis, a crisis which has been created largely, in the United States, in particular, by the spread of a dogma which is sometimes called "shareholder value." That is, the former General Welfare policy, which is one of the fundamental laws of our Constitution, as set forth in the Preamble, and all Federal judges and members of Congress and Executive members should consider themselves obliged to adhere to the Constitutional principle of the obligation to promote the General Welfare for all persons and their posterity. That's the mandate.
Shareholder value, which is kind of a perversion of Lockean values, has been introduced to undermine and sabotage the implementation of the policy of the General Welfare. That is a heritage of the Confederacy; it has no place in the Federal United States. But it is one of the major reasons we have the present health-care crisis. So this is, first of all, not just a health-care crisis; it's a health-care crisis caused by an abomination introduced into the practice and philosophy of law of our government and private sector.
Secondly, unlike others who are talking about health-care insurance, my focus is upon the Hill-Burton method, where the Federal government, through Hill-Burton, intervenes to assist state and local and private institutions in combination in providing private health care, as needed, through institutional means. That is, on the assumption that physicians usually work with hospitals and clinics, and therefore, if we have in the hospitals and clinics adequate facilities to meet the health-care requirements of the general population, we then have the basis for bringing the physician into the picture to ensure the delivery of health care, as required, wherever it's needed.
So, the Hill-Burton law, as amended by the enactment of Civil Rights legislation during the 1960s, is the standpoint to which I propose we return for a cornerstone, for a reversal of the present downward trend in health-care policy.
The third thing we have to consider, is, what is the role of the Federal government in health care? What should the Federal government do, and not do, relative to the state governments, to other public institutions, and to private institutions? What's the division of labor and how should that function?
[Fourthly,] we should consider the global nature of the health crises involved in this. What's the actual health crisis, in terms of delivering the kind of medical care and related hygienic sanitation, which is needed to deal with the spread, for example, of new and old types of epidemic diseases and pandemics, as well? The so-called AIDS, or HIV crisis, especially in Africa, typifies the spread of diseases, including many, such as tuberculosis, and so forth, which had been coming under control, which are now spreading again in forms for which populations lack immunological potential.
So, we're plunged into a global crisis of death, like that which hit Europe during the 14th century, unless we stop this. So, it's not just a matter of getting health care to people, not just no longer killing people who are senior citizens, or otherwise urgently in need of care, but it's a matter of a general problem of sanitation, epidemic disease, and so forth. And the health-care system is one of the major weapons, together with sanitation, for defeating these pandemic and epidemic problems.
And, finally, we have to consider the question of what are true medical costs. Now, the general pattern today is, in terms of medical insurance, that what a physician gets in payment for providing a form of care, is much less than the same physician would have received for the same degree of care, quality of care, 10 to 20 years ago. So therefore, when people say that medical costs are rising, they are not exactly truthful. What's happened is, there's been a great inflation, general price inflation, in things which affect medical care, such as real estate costs, and other costs, an inflation which has been concealed, especially since 1983, by a fraudulent method used by the Federal Reserve System, and also the U.S. government, including what's called the Quality Adjustment Index, so that when the government says, or the Federal Reserve says, that inflation is at a certain price, they're probably 30-40% out of line.
And therefore, in reality, in terms of delivered effect, people today are much worse off than they were many years ago. That the present inflation rate, recent inflation rate over the past 30 years, has been greatly understated, and that's one of the reasons why--it's not that medical costs have been climbing, in real terms; they have not been climbing. In real terms, physicians and institutions are receiving less in payment, per patient treated, than they were 20 and 30 years ago. The difference is largely a result of price inflation of various kinds....