As recently as the 1920s, America had what was considered by the rest of the world to be its best healthcare system. The cost of American healthcare was also the lowest among nations considered to be "modern." This was the result of what was known as the Lodge System. Most Americans, regardless of ethnic or religious stripe were members of some fraternal order.
The "lodge" was a community within each community which supported its members in hard times, but more (perhaps most) importantly, it was also the source of healthcare. The lodge contracted with a local physician to provide medical care for members and their families with average terms ranging from $1 per month in rural areas to $2 per month in cities. When a member or family member became ill, the lodge's physician came to their home and provided medical services at little or no additional charge other than the cost of medicine.
THE MONOPOLY IS GRANTED CONTROL OF MEDICINE IN AMERICA
Until 1929, the free market determined the cost of healthcare, not insurance companies, government, or medical monopolies, and it worked. With a handful of donation dollars, however, this all changed with one act of Congress. A small lobbying group from Chicago known as the AMA (American Medical Association) lobbied the federal legislature to outlaw lodge practice, which Congress did, though this was outside of its constitutional authority or purview.
Medical costs doubled within the next half-decade. The AMA then lobbied to control licensing not only of those who could legally practice medicine, but also which universities and colleges were allowed to teach the subject. Medical costs again quickly doubled.
The first casualties of the monopoly control of medicine were the black medical schools, which were thriving in the 1930s. But it would be more than a generation before black doctors were again licensed to practice medicine by the privately operated AMA monopoly.
Licensing became ever more restrictive to reduce the competition and drive up the earnings of the monopoly's members. New licensees barely met the attrition rate of doctors retiring or quitting the practice of medicine, even as the baby-boom doubled the nation's population. The cost of medical care, as a result, again multiplied.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Government absorbed the public's medical care with Medicaid and Medicare. Costs again skyrocketed, never to be fair or affordable again, until the two market disruptions of monopoly and government were one day removed.
The outcome of monopoly is always the same--the commodity controlled becomes far more expensive. The outcome of government intervention is always the same--the service being provided becomes inefficient, fraught with fraud, and ultimately a bureaucratic nightmare, increasing the cost of that being controlled.
America now has the most expensive medical care in the world---by far---yet ranks behind all of its peer nations and 32nd in terms of quality of care.
As in most cases, all that is needed is for government to return to Rule of Law, and remove the disruptions it caused by exceeding its constitutional boundaries.
FREE THE MARKET
1. Any student granted a degree in medicine by a college or university has the right and privilege to practice that craft under the United States Constitution. Any further restrictions are the purview of the States, not Washington. What constitutes "medicine" should be up to the colleges, universities--and consumers--not a government-sanctioned private monopoly. The shortage of medical practitioners would come to an end quickly, while concurrently creating a myriad of alternative treatments that are banned or outlawed by the monopoly--though effective. RESULT- Medical costs would plummet through competition.
CHANGE OR ELIMINATE THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN MEDICINE
2. Government has no constitutional role in the practice of medicine, but in the interim (as the market rights itself from control of the monopoly and government) it could act as the "lodge," contracting with practitioners for a monthly fee, while allotting groups of patients unable to afford the high cost of monopoly care--but on a fixed basis--as in the practice of old, which worked. The doctor receives the monthly stipend for caring for his allotted citizens, but nothing additional is paid when care is required. Extraordinary costs and care would be the purview of the States, based on what the local populations and legislatures are willing to absorb.
By forcing government to return to constitutional bounds and ending the reign of America's medical monopoly--healthcare could quickly return to what it was less than a century ago--the very best in the world, at the very lowest of costs.
A RETURN TO RULE OF LAW and A RETURN TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION will truly make America great again, regardless of who is running it.
Howell W. Woltz
Howell is the Author of "The Way Back to America: 10 steps to return the United States to constitutional government."
*** Have you read Howell's new #1 international bestseller, "Justice Restored: 10 steps to end mass incarceration in America"? It is also available now on Amazon or in a bookstore near you.
Laws and penalties can only be meted out at the federal level through the passage of legislation, voted upon by elected by members of Congress. There is no other mechanism within constitutional authority for placing restraints upon the freedoms of the American public, or of imposing a penalty for exercising activities so restrained. Under Section 8, Article I, Congress is restricted to the punishment of but two human behaviors:
Clause 6. To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
Clause 10. To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
The only other crime which federal government was authorized to punish is treason, but that falls under the purview of the Supreme Court of the United States (Clause 1, Article 3), not Congress. While Congress was also delegated the authority to regulate commerce, it was not granted the power to criminalize or punish it.
Instead of following this constitutional delegation of powers, however, our Representatives have not only outlawed 14,000 human behaviors outside of granted authority (4,000 “crimes” under Title 18, and 10,000 civil regulations to which the criminal penalty of prison has been assigned) it has delegated lawmaking authority to dozens of agencies not authorized by or found in the United States Constitution. These agencies of questionable origin and authority have now criminalized, sua sponte, in excess of 300,000 additional human behaviors, none of which were previously against the law (Source: American Legislative Exchange article, pasted below). No dictator, tyrant, or “evil empire” in human history has ever generated so many ways to send its citizens to prison. The ‘land of the free’ now has 314,000 statutes with prison as penalty, resulting in the highest level of mass incarceration the world has ever seen.
These are the steps that must be taken to stop unconstitutional legislation:
1. Only legislation passed by Congress has force of law. Any legislation or rule by agencies or any entity other than the Congress of the United States, is null, void, and unenforceable.
2. Before voting for any legislation, each Representative should be required to go on record as having fully read the entirety of the proposed law or regulation. This would act to limit the length of legislation and restrain those outside of Congress who currently write many, if not most, of our nation’s laws, criminal statutes, and regulations, from overburdening our elected Representatives and passing unjust laws.
3. Require that no law be passed that does not require criminal intent on the part of the accused to be proven by government, beyond a reasonable doubt, before a penalty can be imposed. The principle of mens rea must be restored to rule of law.
4. Legislation by the Executive Branch is also unlawful. There is no provision in Article 2 of the United States Constitution for “executive orders,” and no such authority was ever so granted to the Executive Branch by ‘We the People.’ All Executive Orders must be declared advisory in nature, and legislation passed to preclude such unlawful attempts to legislate by the Executive and further attempts to be cause for impeachment.
5. Put an end to seizure of private assets by police or government until a citizen has a) been charged and proven guilty of a crime and b) a relation between those assets and the crime has been established beyond a reasonable doubt.
6. To end the current situation of “government for sale,” I would ultimately suggest that Congress follow the advice of Austrian Economist, Frederick von Hayek, who once said, “Pass one law. Make every statute written or advantage granted, apply equally to all. Only then will the legislature be unable to grant favors to one group, at the expense of, or detriment to, others.” Our government will no longer be for sale to the highest bidder if this sage advice were followed.
Back to rule of law. We need to devolve back to our ultimately law of the land….The United States Constitution. Viva la Devolucion!
Howell W. Woltz
Author, “The Way Back to America: a 10-step plan to restore the United States to constitutional government,”(2015) and "Justice Restored: 10 steps to end mass incarceration in America (2016)
Born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and Caledonian University in Scotland, Howell now lives in Warsaw, Poland with his wife, Dr. Magdalena Iwaniec-Woltz. Howell is the European Correspondent for The Richardson Post and Chairman of The International Centre for Justice.