By mcoppock | May 31, 2010
It’s not just the beast of a bill that defines ObamaCare, it’s also a general approach to destroying the individual rights of medical practitioners and customers. Consider a recent case in Idaho, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor:
As I’ve long suspected, “health care reform” has emboldened the Justice Department to take a more active role in enforcing government price controls against physicians. Today the Antitrust Division, joined by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, forced a a group of Boise orthopedists to accept price controls for worker’s compensation and HMO contracts as part of a settlement accusing the doctors of “price fixing”:
According to the complaint, the conspiring orthopedists engaged in two antitrust conspiracies, which took place from 2006 to 2008. In the first conspiracy, through a series of meetings and other communications, the orthopedists agreed not to treat most patients covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
This is just the beginning, I’m guessing, and the Justice Department’s first shot across the bow of the nation’s physicians. As the Monitor identifies, the FTC usually brings such complaints, which means they’re civil and administrative. The Justice Department bringing them means that charges can bring criminal consequences. Also:
The second reason this is a landmark case is that the Justice Department has unambiguously stated that refusal to accept government price controls is a form of illegal “price fixing.”
The Monitor goes on to discuss some of the ramifications of the case, and it’s worth a read, although the article does inappropriately defend the notion of “anticompetitive activity.” What that anti-concept means is that people can’t really compete to win, but rather that the market works “best” when all competitors are essentially in an effective stalemate. That notion has been rebutted many times, and so I won’t do that here.
What’s most important about this case is that it proposes that physicians have no right to associate freely and to utilize those associations to give them enhanced bargaining power against the force of government. It’s really inevitable, of course: once government force is injected into a market, ever more force is necessary to maintain government’s control as the market responds.
In this case, doctors chose as a group to refuse to perform services for the government-mandated prices. That is, they exercised their only remaining aspect of their individual rights: to simply refuse to act in the face of government force. This means that now, under the guise of “antitrust,” those doctors are being forced to provide services for whatever price the government chooses to pay.
Look for more of this kind of thing as medical professional continue to respond to the use of force against them. Sooner rather than later, should ObamaCare survive, we’ll see all healthcare workers simply become mandatory state employees as the only way that government can enforce the bill’s provisions. Ultimately, ObamaCare will be shown to be what it’s really been from the beginning: a mere (and very calculated) step toward the nationalization of the healthcare industry.
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