A truly bad health care plan

It’s never a pretty spectacle, that eleventh-hour rush to move legislation through the Assembly and the Senate to the governor’s desk. Voters may seriously wonder how much deliberation, farsightedness and even wisdom went into the hasty process.

Now the politicians are aiming at our health care. It’s time for Californians to worry.

State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, the Santa Monica Democrat, and other advocates of single-payer, universal health care — the euphemism commonly applied to socialized medicine — saw this frenetic season as their chance to put the Capitol’s stamp on it. And so it was done.

Californians who still believe in their right to shop for personalized medical care may take some solace. Gov. Schwarzenegger probably won’t sign something so horrendously revolutionary as this.

Last month he told the Commonwealth Club: “I don’t believe that government should be getting in there and should start running a health care system that is kind of done and worked on by government.” That’s pretty clear — we think.

Never mind that he’s also proposing to intrude government into pharmaceutical costs, a departure from such free-market thinking. What Kuehl and her confederates are seeking is such a wholesale disruption of life in the Golden State that the governor’s basic prudence should keep us safe for now — we hope.

For his part, Phil Angelides, the governor’s Democrat opponent, has said he opposes the Kuehl plan. Oh, he favors a government system, but he prefers a piecemeal buildup to it. It takes time to create a health care system in the image of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gradualism of this kind, Angelides doesn’t seem to understand, really isn’t the path of least resistance his camp imagines. Doctors, medical clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, indeed patients themselves, all must plan their decisions by the political shifts in the wind. Just anticipating the step-by-step arrival of a state-run health care system will cause havoc.

Do expect private medical practitioners — and not a few of them — to pull up stakes and move to friendlier states. Do expect patients to feel more misery as they’re herded into queues for state-directed treatments.

What animates the politicians who placed this on the governor’s desk is worth some sort of psychological probe, the idea being so counter to experience. Beyond the ongoing search for new constituents seems to be some kind of yearning for the supposedly superior plans known to Britain and Canada.

But those systems don’t work, as a host of empirical studies has long since shown. For starters, needed surgery regularly comes at the end of a long wait — a marathon that endangers lives. And capital needed for medical innovation either dries up or flees to places where it’s appreciated.

The governor needs to say no. Now. And firmly.

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