Another Glimpse Into Our Healthcare Future From England?

Uh-oh, the government is "helping" again.

MPs have voted through a controversial measure that gives England’s health secretary powers to close local hospitals, even if they are performing well.

Clause 119 in the Care Bill allows a hospital to be closed or downgraded if a neighbouring trust is struggling financially.

Government maintains it is a good way to address local care issues.

But critics say the powers put finances ahead of patient care.

Clause 119 gives special administrators the power to make changes to neighbouring services while trying to rescue failing NHS trusts.

It was inserted into the bill after the High Court ruled last October that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had acted outside his powers when he decided the emergency and maternity units at Lewisham Hospital, in south-east London, should be cut back to save a neighbouring trust that was going bust – Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich.

It’s the old story: the government runs something into the ground and, in an effort to save it, runs something else into the ground.

"Oh, you were scheduled to have your baby here? Sorry, we’re closed. You’ll have to try the Bureaucratic Bloat and Failure Medical Center down the street. Buh-bye."

While it is true that comparisons to England’s health care system are a bit "apples and oranges" at the present time; there are still reasons to look across the pond for cautionary tales.

The first is that, as anyone paying attention knows, a single-payer federal monstrosity is the real goal of leftist health care "reformers" in the United States. One of the more plausible conspiracy theories surrounding the unmitigated rollout disaster of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is that it was designed to be this awful in order to expedite the journey to a single-payer system.

The second is that bloated bureaucracies are unimaginative and rather predictable. Give the government an inch, and it will take ten or twelve trips around the solar system. There is no "dabbling" in a market by true devotees of government intervention. It is very easy to believe that it is a short trip from, "We’re going to subsidize insurance premiums," to "We’re shutting down this maternity ward to prop up the poorly run hospital five miles from here." One merely has to look at the history of federal "help".

It’s better to derail the train at the top of the mountain before it begins rolling without any brakes.

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