Government-Run Health Care: Vaccine Shortage Inspires Dread

I'm not enough of a futurist to predict whether current health care legislation, if enacted and signed and not repealed later on, will lead to a complete government takeover of health care. (I'd be happy if they found ways to cover everyone, bend the cost curve through competition, and help make it more affordable so that small businesses could provide health insurance to their workers).

But if this legislation does lead to a government takeover of health care and health insurance system, and any bill of this massive size (1,900 pages by last count) leads me to believe that more state control is on the way, the inexplicable shortage of H1N1 flu vaccines hardly inspires confidence. This should have been a smaller-scale opportunity for the federal government to prove that it could deliver, and it has failed miserably.

My progressive friends like to point to the success of Medicare and Medicaid as proof that our government can handle one-seventh of the economy. I point out that Medicare is going bankrupt and needs fixing, and that if we are going to cover people that lack insurance, tailoring and/or expanding Medicaid would be one way to do it. The latter is, after all, the government health care program for the poor.

It's not like the possibility of a flu pandemic came out of the blue, like a tsunami that strikes without warning. We've had nearly a year to prepare for it, so why have we only delivered a fraction, 11.5 million, of the vaccines we need as the flu season hits? We don't even have enough for the most vulnerable populations for a virus that likes to strike the young, putting children at risk.

Yet we do have enough to inoculate detainees at Guantanamo Bay while my 84-year-old mother-in-law, who has never plotted or attempted to harm America, has to wait. Boffo performance, Feds. Just buffo.

This should have been Government Health Care 101, especially since each year we have produced enough vaccines for other types of flu. One would think that one advantage of having a massive federal government is the capability to do the routine routinely. Guess not.

Perhaps we first should ask whether government can do health care before we ask whether it should.

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