Sunday, July 11, 2010

Send in the Clowns

Along with the reading of the Declaration of Independence, 5k race and fire works  the Huntington Beach 4th of July parade is a staple of the day's celebration. Every year the Shriners dazzle children of all ages with their miniature motorcycles and cars and bright carnival costumes that evoke an exotic Arabian past.

The fun of the 4th perhaps obscures the Shriners mission to provide medical care to seriously ill children without means. This missions is similar to the Pentagon's charge to provide short-term and long-term medical care to serving military personnel and veterans. Unlike the Shriners which is a fairly efficient private organization dedicated to a specific purpose, the Pentagon has taken it upon itself to be the healthcare system for the military.

The government's Veterans Administration system made more sense with the massive mobilization of World War Two and the Cold War. Healthcare was a lot cheaper mostly because high technology had not yet come to dominate the field. Now that MRIs and laser surgery are routine healthcare is routinely expensive and increasingly so. The recent passage of President Obama's ruinous health care legislation that seeks to wrestle control of nearly a sixth of the economy is exactly the wrong way to go.

The privatization of the military's healthcare needs, at least the out patient and long term care needs, could have provided a model of an efficient and effective healthcare delivery system. The U.S., for now, has the best medical care in the world so why not get the Pentagon out of the business and foster a relationship with the civilian system that is the envy of the world? A voucher system could go a long way toward accomplishing what the Shriners do everyday for children and we all agree that our veterans are worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Shriners & their silly hats & fun cars!