“I think they ought to be hit over the head with a club.”
A reader of this blog was kind enough to send me a photocopy of a New York Times article on health care reform . . . published on May 10, 1962. It was reporting on a controversy surrounding the precursor to Medicare, the King-Anderson bill, then being debated in Congress.
The proposed law had sparked what the Times called a “revolt” among more than two hundred New Jersey doctors who signed a resolution opposing the bill. Observers noted a “movement that is spreading among New Jersey doctors in threatening to refuse to treat medical patients under the provisions of the King-Anderson bill.” The movement’s leader, Dr. J. Bruce Henriksen, was quoted as saying: “As far as I’m concerned as an individual, of course, I won’t practice under socialized medicine. I’ll quit. I’ll refuse to see all patients. Maybe they’ll put me in jail.”
Someone then asked former President Harry Truman what he thought about the New Jersey doctors’ revolt. Replied Truman: “I think they ought to be hit over the head with a club.”
What difference has forty-seven years of ever-expanding government control over health care made? Well, for one thing, not much opposition has surfaced among doctors opposed to ObamaCare. On the contrary, the American Medical Association has meekly indicated that it’s “committed to achieving health system reform this year” that “provides health insurance for all.”
As a result of this timidity, politicians haven’t needed to be as brutally frank about their tactics as Truman was in 1962. But you’d better believe that if any significant opposition among doctors were to emerge, the legal equivalent of that club would quickly be brandished. After all, doctors are acutely aware that government authorities control their licenses to practice, the prices they can charge for their services, the patients they can treat, the drugs they can prescribe, and the insurance companies they typically look to for income.
With power like that, who needs an old-fashioned caveman’s club?