38 degrees vs medical care

There is an organisation called 38 degrees that runs petitions for left wing political causes. They have written a blog post about a proposed US-UK trade deal:

The NHS as we know it is at risk. A group of lobbyists have published a plan for a US -UK trade deal. [1] They want to let American healthcare companies make money off UK patients when we’re sick, vulnerable and in need of care. [2]

They quote from a report by the Cato Institute. The relevant section on p. 228 reads:

With that in mind, what might a realistic U.S.-U.K. FTA look like? First of all, full and fast trade liberalization should be the goal, with exceptions limited to the most sensitive products. Tariffs on all U.S.-U.K. trade should be zero or close to it soon after the agreement enters into force.

On services, there are opportunities for innovations, but also some sensitivities. Both sides have strong financial services sectors, which could thrive when subjected to greater competition. It is proposed that mutual recognition exist across all financial sectors (including banking, investment banking, dealing, broking, fund management, custody, derivatives dealing, clearing, financial infrastructure, and, where possible insurance and reinsurance) from day one. Given the experiences after the 2007–2008 financial crisis, we believe the two regimes are generally already synchronized and seek to achieve the same outcomes.

As for other services areas, health services are an area where both sides would benefit from openness to foreign competition, although we recognize any changes to existing regulations will be extremely controversial. Perhaps, then, for other areas the initial focus should be on other fields such as education or legal services, where negotiators can test the waters and see what is possible. That said, we would envisage a swift, time-tabled implementation of recogni- tion across all areas within 5 years.

Let’s consider what the quote from 38 degrees means first. They don’t want American healthcare companies to make money off NHS patients. Are they just opposed to American healthcare companies? Does the fact that a company is American make it bad? Or is it the case that 38 degrees don’t want anybody making money by providing healthcare to sick patients? If so, shouldn’t nurses and doctors be forced to work for free so they don’t make money by caring for patients? And what about the NHS’s suppliers? They make money by selling stuff to the NHS. Should they be forced to make no profit from such sales? And if nobody is allowed to make any money by caring for sick people, then how are the people who do so going to put food on the table?

What does the Cato document mean? Tariffs are taxes imposed on goods imported from another country. In other words, if you import something and there is a tariff the government is forcing you to pay more for it. The second paragraph talks about the US and UK government having similar goals when it comes to regulating finance and basically sez they should deliberately try to match policy so companies can operate more easily in both countries. So I think we can expect that they have something similar in mind for healthcare companies, although they are kinda vague about it. An American healthcare company would be able to operate more easily in the UK. Likewise UK healthcare companies like BUPA would be able to operate more easily in the US. This is not some enormous change, it’s just allowing people who want to buy healthcare services to do so more easily from more companies.

The Cato report doesn’t mention the NHS, but it’s a bit difficult to see how the NHS could get worse if the people running it have the option of buying healthcare goods and services from the US for their patients. An American company might make some items more cheaply, or make something that isn’t made by a UK company. Should the NHS pay more for the same good from a different source just to avoid buying from the US? That would mean less patients could be treated for the same amount of money so more people would suffer. So 38 degrees is advocating a policy that would lead to more people suffering.

The 38 degrees blogpost is typical of the intellectual level of discussion of healthcare in the UK. Their position is that you shouldn’t be allowed to take any responsibility or make any choices for your own healthcare or for anything else. You are a drone who has a right to standard issue government services and no right to anything else.

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

One Response to 38 degrees vs medical care

  1. From the perspective of the economy (as in the buyers as sellers, the producers and customers), a tariff is like adding potholes to a road. the point of the road is to make transportation cheaper, then the tariff does the opposite. Why bother with roads then, if the government is going to add tariff collectors to them to undo the cost savings of the road? if you undo the benefits of the road, you just end up with the costs of the road *and* the costs of the tariff collectors. (this point is from Bastiat).

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