STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The former speaker of the House went to the US Capitol yesterday and appeared alongside Senator Hillary Clinton. Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton were promoting plans for change on a subject where they used to be bitterly opposed--health care. Gingrich and Clinton are now working together on a bipartisan effort to reduce the amount of health-care paperwork.
And now for a perspective on health-care reform from way beyond the Beltway, here is cowboy poet and former large-animal veterinarian, Baxter Black, with help from his closest adviser.
I am blessed to have a brother with the ability to solve complex problems with the wisdom of Solomon. Something as simple as two brothers sharing what's left of the pie: One cuts it, the other gets first pick.
We were discussing the prickly issue of national health care. Doctors say socialized medicine reduces the quality of health care available to most, does not pay doctors adequately nor reward them for the responsibility they bear. On the other hand, those promoting socialized medicine believe good health care is a right for all, regardless of income, citizenship or personal responsibility. My brother's solution? If we nationalize the medical profession, we nationalize the legal profession. Good logic. The greatest enemy of doctors is lawyers.
Skyrocketing malpractice insurance is a direct result of doctors being sued by lawyers through the pawns in the middle--us. Each profession blames the other. But regardless of fault, the litigious atmosphere has tarnished the image of everyone. It's made the doctors become aloof from their patients. The patients seem greedy and the lawyers look like opportunists.
If we were to nationalize both these professions and the quality of health care would decline, as the doctors propose, I suspect the quality of legal care would increase. Granted, a lot fewer people would enter the legal profession, but the complaints they file on behalf of us would have more legitimacy. There would be no incentive for ambulance-chasing or frivolous litigation. Cases would be decided by tribunals of judges knowledgeable in medicine.
There would be a good side, though. We'd have to face reality. People who overeat could not blame their doctor or Ben & Jerry's. People who smoke could not blame their doctor or Philip Morris. People who engage in risky pursuits would have to take responsibility for their own actions. And after nationalizing the medical and legal professions, other occupations might follow, like politics. People would be appointed to office. Voting would be abolished. `Wait a minute,' you say, `who would be in charge?' Well, I guess we'd have to ask Fidel how that works.
INSKEEP: That's the latest policy prescription from cowboy poet and former large-animal veterinarian Baxter Black.
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