Dr. Pierce is one of four distinguished physicians on speaking tours across the country as part of the "Choose Freedom — Stop ObamaCare" campaign of The John Birch Society. He was interviewed for The New American by Senior Editor William F. Jasper.
The New American: The British National Health Service (NHS), the Canadian Health Service, RomneyCare in Massachusetts -— all of these continue to be held up as models that we should be emulating. What does your experience and study tell you about these systems?
Dr. Pierce: The major media here have been glorifying the Canadian and British health systems for decades and covering up their well-known deficiencies and notorious horror stories. There are many medical and economic studies exposing the problems with those systems: horrendous waiting lists, huge cost overruns, corruption, unavailability of common procedures and tests we take for granted, doctors leaving for foreign countries or leaving the profession, rationing by bureaucrats, scandalous conditions in hospitals, etc. But in addition to scholarly studies, anyone with access to the Internet can quickly do a Google search and come up with many published British and Canadian news stories showing the deplorable state of their healthcare systems. They're not anything we should copy. But that's not what you hear from the Big Media here; they've been telling us story after story about this person and that person in Canada and Britain who had an operation or treatment for "free," whereas, their counterparts here in the United States would have been hit with an enormous, crushing bill.
President Obama's appointee to head Medicare and Medicaid, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an ecstatic proponent of British socialized medicine. The British NHS is a "global treasure," he says. He even says he's "romantic about it" and "loves it." So that's where he'd like to lead us.
Essentially, there are three different kinds of delivery systems for healthcare or medical care. The oldest — and in my opinion the best — is fee-for-service. The doctor makes medical decisions and he's compensated by how well these decisions satisfy the patients. That's the doctor-patient relationship. The second system is insurance medicine, which includes managed care, HMOs, and the PPOs, and all sorts of those alphabet soups. In this system, the practitioner — the physician — is sometimes the part-owner, and he is more and more occupied with making financial decisions and following insurance formulas than actually practicing medicine. And the third system is the government or socialized setup. The caregiver, who is more and more not a doctor, has to make politically correct decisions and comply with mountains of ever-changing regulations and mandates in order to stay in business. So good care is being pushed out. And the British and Canadian practices show us that death may be the result of waiting for so-called free care.
From my study and experience, the third option — government medical care — is far and away the worst option. You end up with the worst care and the highest costs, though the costs are often hidden; you don't pay them up front, you pay them in the form of skyrocketing taxes and/or government deficits (borrowing). From my standpoint this is upside down economics. Any kind of government care is divorced from reality. It's simply unrealistic. And it's costly, inefficient, and wasteful just because it is government medicine. That's the nature of the beast.
The New American: One of the things that has tilted many supporters toward ObamaCare is the spiraling cost of American medicine and healthcare. But how much of those skyrocketing costs are the result of previous federal mandates, taxes, and regulations?
Dr. Pierce: I think government is responsible for almost all of it. It's the main reason that healthcare costs have been going up and up. The government has stepped in with first-dollar coverage, so to speak. This medical care stuff is not insurance — it's not health insurance, which is risk-related. An insurance product is supposed to be shared-risk/actuarially sound, where the premium bears some relationship to the use and to the group experience. The trouble is medicine doesn't do that now because that's considered "discriminatory." And so it's not health insurance, it's prepaid medical care. There are two kinds of so-called health insurance: one is defined benefit, and the other is defined premium, with the "defined" being contractual. Socialized medicine gives you a defined premium; you have so much to pay, but there's no connection between that and the benefit. The government steps in and says you pay this much and you can have all you want. So it creates infinite demand for very finite resources. It works as a reverse incentive, actually. If the consumer (patient) doesn't use it, he loses it. I heard that a lot when I was in corporate practice. "It's mine and if I don't use it, I'll lose it."
The New American: The American Medical Association (AMA), the most well-known medical organization, endorses ObamaCare. What do you say to people who argue that it's AMA-approved?
Dr. Pierce: The AMA's endorsement of ObamaCare further discredited an already thoroughly discredited organization. It has become totally politicized. It speaks for a political agenda instead of good medical care. Members of the medical and healthcare professions, as well as members of the general public who wish to be well informed on health-related developments and policies, are better served by looking to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) for reliable information and sound, principled leadership. In addition to AAPS, other doctor groups have come out against ObamaCare: Physicians Against ObamaCare, National Doctors Tea Party, Docs4PatientCare, Physicians for Reform, and others.
The New American: Are you positive about the prospects for repealing ObamaCare?
Dr. Pierce: There's no question in my mind that we can repeal it, if we educate, motivate, and mobilize a significant number of our fellow citizens to take correct and timely action. Congress can and will repeal it, if they feel the heat from us in the form of letters, e-mails, town-hall meetings, as well as in the form of ballots — in both the primaries and the coming midterm election in November. We really have no alternative, we must repeal ObamaCare before its tentacles can sprout and reach into every nook and cranny of every American's life.
There is another route, in addition to congressional repeal of ObamaCare: state nullification. That may prove, ultimately, to be the winning solution. It is encouraging to see many state legislators awaking to their moral and constitutional obligations to use their office as intended by the Founders, as a vital check and balance against usurpation of power by the politicians in Washington, D.C. I know you have been writing a lot about this in The New American, and The John Birch Society has been a major force in resurrecting this important constitutional principle. It is encouraging to see so many newer patriot groups, Tea Party groups, etc., embracing this idea and working with their state legislators to roll back the power of the federal government, not only in healthcare, but in other areas as well. We obviously have a long way to go, but I think we can take great encouragement from these developments.
Dr. Pierce will be speaking in October in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Those who may be interested in attending his speeches may obtain details about the events at the Choose Freedom — Stop ObamaCare campaign website.
You can follow the Choose Freedom — Stop ObamaCare campaign and keep up with related issues on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChooseFreedom.StopObamaCare.