- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Deroy Murdock’s Op-Ed “What you see is what we’ll get” (E-Edition, Opinion, Saturday) misses the mark on the issue of governmental administration of health care.

It is interesting how Mr. Murdock treats health care as just another business to be analyzed and criticized without any concern for the underlying public benefits that clearly distinguish this industry. He points out certain fraud-prevention issues that require further work and pricing models that apparently warrant inspection and potentially an adjustment.

However, he also points out the high claim rejection rate, which would indicate that the Medicaid system has in place checks and balances to prevent improper or excessive payments. Mr. Murdock concludes that government is incompetent and cannot be trusted to administer taxpayer dollars in any proposed health care reform. I find several problems with this.

First, pointing out that criminals perpetrate fraud on the system is not a justification for abandoning the system. When administering a $452 billion budget for more than 100 million Americans, there is always a trade-off between fraud prevention and efficient administration. If every dollar must be investigated before it is paid, the cost of the system itself would cause its collapse. Mr. Murdock’s specific example does not address a systemwide analysis of fraud losses versus the cost of fraud prevention, which would be necessary to understand the issue better.

Perhaps more important, if fraud were a justification for keeping institutions out of a certain sector, I shudder to think that every mega-company would be forced to shut down under Mr. Murdock’s analysis. Should private companies be forced to stay out of the energy, accounting, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries because of the examples set by Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom and ImClone Systems? Obviously not. Then, Mr. Murdock’s fraud examples do not support a wholesale abandonment of the governmental option.

As a student at the University of California at Berkeley and as an American, I believe that government-administered, universal health care will provide the greatest good for the largest number of Americans.

Focusing on Mr. Murdock’s issue of fraud prevention, I believe that the cat-and-mouse game between computerized checks and balances, human ingenuity and loss tolerances, on the one hand; and unscrupulous fraudsters, on the other hand, will be won by the government. Admittedly, some dollars will be lost, but if that were not always the case, there would be no FBI, state troopers or local law enforcement.

Advocating the avoidance of government-administered universal health care because it will not be 100 percent fraud-proof misses the mark. It would deprive the under-represented and most needy segments of our society of basic medical care that is a fundamental right everyone should enjoy in a civilized society.


Public health major

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, Calif.

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