As US legislators continue to advance the largest expansion of government control over health care in the US, many Americans may need some comic relief. Although such massive consolidation of federal control over health care is by no means a laughing matter, the following 2-minute clip from a popular BBC Documentary Series “Yes, Minister” illustrates the ridiculousness of the efforts.
This not an entirely trivial story contrived for political satire; in fact, even early this year, the 2009 opening to an NHS hospital was canceled until “early 2010” for among other items not being able to “[control] the heat of the floor in some parts of the hospital.” In 2008, a survey by the (British) Health Care Commission found that roughly 11 million hospital meals were simply wasted. Moreover, the Taxpayers’ Alliance in England, find that “misguided directive[s]” lead to a “total waste of NHS resources”, and most importantly, divert global health care resources “at a time when people are struggling to get life-saving operations and medication”.
While the US healthcare system is not (yet) the socialized health care system of the British NHS, Obamacare does continue a massive transfer of regulatory power in the health care and health insurance markets to the federal government. In the attempt to bring more equity into the US health care system by granting the federal government even greater power, even an advanced socialized health care system faces great concerns of inequality. This is highlighted best by Steve Webb, MP and Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, stating of the NHS that “health inequalities still run deeply through our society. People still face an unfair postcode lottery in accessing health services across the country, which bears little relation to need. Health needs around the country would be best met by democratic community bodies giving local people a direct say in the services they need.”
This underscores the gravity of the current health reform debate in the US where the federal government has progressively consolidated regulatory and financing power in health care for the last 30 years. Rather than moving more towards a decentralized system that many in Britain now want (and polls have shown US voters want) US legislators want to centralize more of the power in Washington.