Whiplash-Mitt Romney Lavishes Praise On Israel's Socialist, Government Controlled Healthcare System.
Mitt Romney seems to be laboring under the impression that whatever he says in a foreign country will—like a weekend in Las Vegas—somehow stay in that foreign country. Either that or he figures nobody back home is paying any attention.
Speaking today to a small group of Israeli contributors to his campaign, the GOP presidential candidate—and supposed sworn enemy of government controlled healthcare—had kind words for the success of Israel’s healthcare system.
"Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the G.D.P. in Israel? Eight percent,” he said. “You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”
A healthy nation, indeed.
With a life-expectancy rate that is the 4th best in the world (the United States is 38th) and a reputation for delivering high-quality care to all of its citizens by utilizing the most advanced medical technology available in a hospital system we can only envy from afar, Governor Romney is right to be impressed with the Israelis’ ability to deliver excellent care while keeping spending down to 8 percent of GDP as compared to 18 percent here in the United States.
If only Romney’s appreciation of Israel’s success did not fly smack in the face of his constant, ideologically based rhetoric guaranteed to insure that only the wealthiest Americans get a taste of the healthcare Israelis receive as their birthright.
Or does the Governor simply not understand that Israel’s healthcare success story—including their ability to control costs— is the direct result of the nation’s socialized healthcare system that has existed since the country’s founding in 1948 and institutionalized by law in 1995?
Today, the nation of Israel requires that every Israeli belong to one of four health maintenance organizations (that’s right…mandated participation)—each operating as a non-profit and each funded by the Israeli government via a progressive tax that every citizen is obligated to pay based on their earnings.
What’s more, the uniform benefits offered by the HMOs are established by the central government and must be made available to every single citizen—regardless of their medical circumstances (the phrase ‘pre-existing condition’ apparently does not exist in the Hebrew language.)
And those basic benefits made available to all Israelis are pretty darn good.
They include medical diagnosis and treatment, preventative medicine, any required hospitalization for any reason whatsoever, surgery, organ transplants, ambulance or transport service, treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism, medical equipment and appliances, obstetrics and fertility treatments, all prescribed pharmaceuticals, and physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Preventative dentistry for kids is also included. As for anything not covered—basically, vision and adult dentistry—private supplemental policies are available for purchase and cheap enough to allow approximately 80 percent of the country’s citizens to buy the supplemental coverage.
It gets even better.
Based on tax collections for the program, the government—and the government alone—decides how much it will pay to the four health maintenance organizations based on the age and health of their beneficiaries. If the amount the government elects to pay is insufficient to cover the HMO’s costs—tough. It’s up to the HMO to find a way to avoid dipping into the red as they are prohibited by law from withholding or diminishing the quality of care made available to their customers.
In a nation that is operating what could only be described as the antithesis of a free-market health care system, one can only expect that patient satisfaction might not be all that might be hoped for—at least that is what our devoutly anti-socialist, free market medical enthusiasts would have us believe.
As it turns out…not so much. Israelis are very happy with the care they are receiving.
Sarah Kliff reports the results of a 2011 study of the Israeli medical system conducted for Health Affairs by Jack Zwanziger and Shuli Brammli-Greenberg wherein the authors actually credit the Israeli government’s control for the success of the nation’s healthcare experience:
“The national government exerts direct operational control over a large proportion of total health care expenditures, through a range of mechanisms, including caps on hospital revenue and national contracts with salaried physicians. The Ministry of Finance has been able to persuade the national government to agree to relatively small increases in the health care budget because the system has performed well, with a very high level of public satisfaction.
While Governor Romney will, no doubt, be called upon in the coming hours and days to explain his generous words for this government controlled medical system, I can already anticipate what we might expect to hear.
The Governor will tell us that it is up to each nation to decide what works best for its people and that, when it comes to the United States, socialized health care— or the use of significant government regulation and controls in medicine —is simply not the way to go.
But his answer will not speak to why he chose to highlight and praise the Israeli system just as it won’t tell us why such a system cannot succeed in the United States. His answer will also not explain why government mandates and government required basic coverage minimums are praiseworthy when it comes to our Israeli friends but are to be vilified by Mitt Romney and his supporters when they are included in the Affordable Care Act.
Mitt Romney won’t answer these questions because that is simply not the way the GOP candidate for President rolls.
But I think we know the answer. Had Barack Obama been the architect of the successful Israeli medical system, Romney would be defining the program as the beginning of Israel’s descent into Western European style socialism and decay.
Still, is it really asking too much that Mitt Romney take a position and stick with it—even if he doesn’t actually believe in the position he determines to be the most politically expedient?
Either he’s for the Massachusetts health care program he signed into law that would become the model for the Affordable Care Act or he’s against it. Either he supports and praises the Israeli socialist healthcare system wherein the government controls, mandates, and regulates the nation’s healthcare delivery or he’s against socialized medicine as the very symbol of the devil’s work in the world.
All I would ask of Governor Romney is this—just pick one already, will you Mitt?
You’re giving me whiplash, bro.
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