How The Government-Business Marriage Threatens Lives

The late Milton Friedman wrote the following on licensure:

In the arguments that seek to persuade legislatures to enact such licensure provisions, the justification is always said to be the necessity of protecting the public interest. However, the pressure on the legislature to license an occupation rarely comes from the members of the public who have been mulcted or in other ways abused by members of the occupation. On the contrary, the pressure invariably comes from members of the occupation itself.

Friedman was most critical of medical licensure. A legal fight by the Institute For Justice makes Friedman’s words prophetic. IJ is representing medical providers such as Dr. Mark Baumel:

To improve Virginia’s dismal screening rate, Baumel wanted to offer patients “virtual colonoscopy” — a procedure that President Obama chose over traditional colonoscopy as part of his first comprehensive exam as commander in chief. In virtual colonoscopy, a CT scanner takes multiple cross-sectional X-rays, which are combined by a computer to form a three-dimensional image of the patient’s colon and surrounding abdominal cavity. A radiologist then checks the image for suspicious precancerous growths, or polyps. For 80 percent to 85 percent of patients, where no polyps are found, that is it: With no sedation or invasive procedure, patients are free to resume their normal activities.

Sounds innovative, and potentially life-saving, as more patients are likely get screened. But not so fast:

But Virginians are prevented from obtaining this innovative service. Unlike Delaware, the Old Dominion prohibits purchasing a CT scanner without first obtaining a certificate of need. And in 2009, Virginia’s Department of Health denied Baumel a certificate of need after existing health care facilities intervened and opposed his application. Consequently, at this time, no one in Virginia can obtain a virtual colonoscopy with the opportunity for same-day polyp removal.

Thanks to an unholy alliance between business and government, lives are at risk. So much for the “public interest.”

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