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Op-ed: Slide toward socialized medicine began with Medicare

Published November 23, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I was raised in a medical home in Hollywood. No, not Obama's government-subsidized "medical home." My mother was a nurse, my father a surgeon.

On July 30, 1965, my father said, "Today is the first day of the end of quality delivery of medicine in America." Medicare had passed. He and Ronald Reagan called it "socialized medicine," and it catapulted Reagan's political career.

My parents fought against Medicare and Medicaid, and before that against Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), through the American Medical Association's vigorous campaigns.

However, when LBJ lassoed taxpayers with his Great Society, the AMA saw opportunity and adapted by developing a royalty-rich coding system (the CPT code) through which it gets paid millions when health care professionals bill us.

Thereafter the AMA reversed its stand, defending Medicare, opposing cutbacks and supporting government-subsidized prescription drugs. Although the AMA only represents about 15 percent of American doctors, it was the only doctors' association invited to the Obama negotiating table.

To keep skin in the game (its CPT code), it endorsed the Affordable Care Act, which has denied insurance coverage to over 5 million Americans.

The Republican Party has consistently opposed socialized medicine. However, it was only with the help of moderate Republicans, who swear by compromise and "reaching across the aisle," that the stage was set for the ACA. Inch by inch, Republicans have compromised to the left, embracing socialistic policies.

Let's take a walk down memory lane: Republican President Nixon's signing of the 1973 HMO Act and the Republican-sponsored 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act (EMTALA) that has been driving up costs and turning emergency rooms into doctor's offices for decades.

Even with a GOP majority in both houses, government continued to expand. Republicans passed the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) increasing premiums 300 percent, requiring insurance companies to provide coverage to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and fooling patients into believing it offered "privacy" protection.

Instead, by its own admission, HIPAA gave health care providers carte blanche to share private records with millions of entities, ending the notion of privacy.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch sponsored CHIP, the 1997 Children's Health Insurance Program, expanding government to those not qualified for Medicaid. Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert sponsored 2003's Medicare Part D, a $1 trillion prescription drug program.

Republican Sen. Bob Bennett sponsored the 2007 Healthy Americans Act. Its key provisions were added to the ACA, including the failed exchange and school-based clinic grants.

This historical exposé documents why true conservatives in the Republican Party are fed up with their RINO (Republicans In Name Only) counterparts, who side with Democrats, calling conservatives "ideologues" and blaming them for the government shutdown.

To set this record straight: Sen. Mike Lee and I were opponents in the 2010 campaign to retire Sen. Bennett. I wholeheartedly support Lee's strategy to ask the Democrats to cross over to our side for a change. They were given multiple opportunities, but they refused to compromise.

For the first time in recent memory, voters elected a core group of Republicans who behave and vote like Republicans after they're elected. While not popular with media or far-left liberal pundits, their approach is refreshing and might just be the antidote to today's socialist creep.

Sen. Hatch recently declared that the tea party (that helped re-elect him) and Sen. Lee need "rehabilitation."

I have news for Sen. Hatch: It's not conservatives who need rehabilitation, it's the go-along-to-get-along Washington, D.C., culture that has fueled our country's insatiable appetite for socialized medicine and government expansion.

Never forget that in 1965 Medicare was called socialized medicine. Margaret Thatcher nailed it in 1976: "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. ... They then start to nationalize everything, to control everything ... They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people." If Obamacare stands, government control of your health care and loss of choices will only get worse.

Cherilyn Bacon Eagar is the Utah coordinator for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which has recently filed a lawsuit against the IRS challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate.