04.30.2010 0

Too Hot Not to Note: Guess What Greece Has To Jettison?

  • On: 05/18/2010 00:12:58
  • In: Uncategorized
  • ALG Editor’s Note: As noted in the following featured editorial from Investor’s Business Daily, the board brings attention to a little-noticed bailout precondition that Greece had to accept — the repeal of government-run health care:


    Guess What Greece Has To Jettison?

    Policy Failure: Greece was told that if it wanted a bailout, it needed to consider privatizing its government health care system. So tell us again why the U.S. is following Europe’s welfare state model.

    The requirement, part of a deal arranged by the IMF, the European Union and the European Central bank, is a tacit admission that national health care programs are unsustainable. Along with transportation and energy, the bailout group, according to the New York Times, wants the Greek government to remove “the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors.”

    This is not some cranky or politically motivated demand. It is a condition based on the ugly reality of government medicine. The Times reports that economists — not right-wingers opposed to health care who want to blow up Times Square — say liberalizing “the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.”

    Of course most of the media have been largely silent about the health care privatization measure for Greece, as it conflicts with their universal, single-payer health care narrative.

    The public health system in the Hellenic Republic is operated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, where centralized decisions and rules are made.

    It provides free or low-cost treatment through what is essentially a single-payer system established in 1983 when the Socialist Party was in power. Family members and retirees are also covered. Like the systems in Britain and Canada, it has agonizingly long waiting lists.

    It should be no surprise that in Greece, health care spending as a percentage of the economy is relatively steep. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data, it’s higher than that in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan. Despite all the spending, Greece could never cover 100% of its citizens, reaching only about 83% for primary care.

    Today, the patient most in need of a room in the intensive-care ward is Greece itself — what with government debt nearing 120% of GDP and the deficit at 13% of GDP.

    The mere possibility of government spending cuts sent striking workers and public employees into the streets. Groups upset with the budget cuts have protested, rioted, looted and killed.

    On May 5, three died in a bank fire fueled by a Molotov cocktail during a riot against the austerity measures that have been intended to save the government from bankruptcy and, as well, secure aid from other nations.

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