U.S. Medical Care Has Become China-Care

Politicians love to brag about their great plans for U.S. medical care.

No doubt you heard campaign promises about medical care from all 27 or so President-wannabes who tried to earn the Democrat nomination.

Recently, the Democrat race has essentially become a two-man contest. So expect to hear a lot more of Bernie Sanders promising “Medicare for all.” And Joe Biden saying he can “fix Obamacare.” Things along those lines…

Even President Trump talks about improving medical care delivery in the U.S. “A big, beautiful medical system,” or such.

Meanwhile, the Chinese virus now dominates the news, and medical care has vaulted to the top of many people’s concerns.

Still, whatever politicians say about U.S. medical care, here’s what they do NOT tell you — none of them. Basically, any plan to increase coverage and/or reduce health care costs all but requires more U.S. dependency on China.

In the U.S., medical care has in large part become “China-Care.”

Here’s what I mean…

Back in the days of your grandparents and great-grandparents, if you were injured or came down sick, you paid for a doctor visit out of your own pocket.

Same thing with hospital stays. People checked in and paid like it was a hotel.

Things started to change during World War II, when the U.S. government capped wages for workers in many industries. The idea was to prevent companies from getting into a bidding war for skilled labor and driving up costs to produce weapons and war supplies.

Since they couldn’t offer higher wages, many employers offered their workers “health care coverage” as a benefit. People seemed to like that, and post-war those benefits stayed in the employment contracts.

Over time, more and more businesses adopted the idea of offering health care benefits. Large companies had bargaining power with insurance companies, hospitals, doctor groups and the like.

So companies used their clout to argue for lower prices. After all, they still had to make a profit, so they couldn’t be spending all their money on employees’ health care.

This is the historical root of the modern U.S. health care “system.” Then in the 1960s, the U.S. government stepped in to… umm… help.

President Lyndon Johnson had an ambitious idea for a so-called “Great Society.” I was young, but I remember the era.

Johnson proposed a program called “Medicare,” under which elderly people — retirees who were out of the workforce — would have their medical bills paid. Rich or poor, everyone over age 65 was covered. The government would pay, meaning taxpayers.

Medicare was a novel idea in the U.S., although Johnson had cribbed it from Great Britain and its post-war National Health Service idea. And Britain cribbed it from the Soviet Union.

At the outset in the 1960s, Medicare was controversial. Doctors were wary of taking government money. Early on, even the American Medical Association opposed Medicare.

But after a while, Medicare became — and is now part of — the American political firmament. It’s untouchable. And it’s hard to envision life in the U.S. without Medicare looking after everyone over age 65.

Over the years, every now and again a new major new federal program came alone. Things like Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs) in 1997, for “children” up to age 25. Or Obamacare back in 2010, which required everyone to buy health insurance.

One federal program after another. Plus, many states adopted health care programs. And it all just added to the health care industry’s complexity, as well as placing stress on controlling costs.

And as a result…

Well, everyone associated with the health care industry — insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies, you name it — did what just about every other U.S. industry has done to deliver the “everyday low prices” that Americans demand.

They turned to China.

Previously (Feb. 20) I discussed how much of the former U.S. medical and pharmaceutical industry has left the country and migrated to China.

Indeed, the U.S. pioneered development of penicillin during World War II, and created an entire industry from scratch. The immense effort was equal to a “Medical Manhattan Project,” and it worked. The U.S. came out of World War II with a globe-spanning pharmaceutical industry.

But in recent decades, China has recreated almost all that pharmaceutical industry, producing the same drugs under license, if not piracy. China offers both name-brand and generic drugs — along with components, down to the basic molecules — at low prices.

As a result, many American drug manufacturers have closed their doors; or at least closed their U.S. doors.

For example, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. relies almost entirely on China for over 150 commonly used drugs.

Your antibiotics? Almost 97% come from China, according to the FDA.

Sure, the pills may have been pressed and packaged elsewhere, like India or Ireland. But the “active ingredients” that make them medicine were delivered from Chinese factories.

And the list goes on…

Your blood pressure meds? China, mostly.

Your diabetes pills? China.

Heart meds? Mostly from China.

Statin drugs to control cholesterol? China.

Other health-related items aren’t immune, either. China is the source of almost all the world’s manufactured ascorbic acid, which is just a fancy way to say vitamin C.

(Maybe instead of pills you should eat a nice Florida or California orange!)

Then there are the products used to administer those drugs. When you get a flu shot, not only is the vaccine likely from China, but so is the hypodermic needle and plastic injection vial.

Here’s the bottom line: U.S. medical care absolutely requires Chinese medicine and medical products.

We cannot deliver “health care” in the U.S. absent literal cargo ships and air transports full of Chinese products. Thus, all political promises of more “health care” — issuing from and paid for by the government or not — depend on the U.S. trade relationship with China.

Remember this when Senator Bernie says he wants “Medicare for all.” He means “China-Care for all.”

Bernie wants to lower the Medicare coverage age from the current 65 to 55, then 45, then 35, then 25. At that point, Medicare will meet CHIPS, and all Americans will be covered, cradle to grave.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden brags about his role in delivering Obamacare back in 2010. And it’ll only get better under his future presidency, he promises.

The Democrats’ health care promise focuses on a national-scale level of coverage, no matter what the flaws and screw-ups were with the original package.

When you boil it down, the fundamental “health care” idea from the Democrat side is that, sooner or later, America will be one vast Army base, so to speak. If you are ill or injured, you pop into the clinic for daily sick call, and government docs will fix you up… and even pay the bill. Sounds great!

But they don’t bother to say that much of that “better medical care” — pills and other medical products — will be Chinese…

There’s your “China-Care.”

So where do we go from here?

If the nation is really going all-in for more government-paid medical care, we may as well be smart about it.

First, keep in mind that federal money — taxpayer funds or public debt — will pay for the future, sea-to-sea medical care of the United States of America. So the rules at least ought to be “Buy American!”

That is… No federal prescription drug coverage for anything that’s not manufactured in the U.S., all the way down to the basic precursors.

It means U.S. sources, made with U.S. labor, in U.S. factories subject to routine FDA inspections.

Of course, all the pharmaceutical companies that relocated factories to China will have to bring production back home. Too bad.

It means that Big Pharma might have to report lower earnings to Wall Street; take the hit of a few of those precious “pennies per share” to pay for new capital investment back here in the U.S. Darn!

It means that U.S. workers will have to pour new concrete, erect new steel, install new wiring, hook-up new machinery and work in pharmaceutical plants at good wages. Aw, shucks…

And U.S. universities will have to train a new generation of chemists and engineers to work in an industry that has been roadkill for a couple of decades. Hmm… Fewer gender studies majors and more chemists. Goodness; how will the country get along with fewer gender studies majors?

So the next time Bernie Sanders passes through town promising “Medicare for All,” or Joe Biden brags about his program to pay your doctor with someone else’s money, maybe someone should ask about the China angle, and how to arrive at health care that’s actually “Made In U.S.A.”.

And perhaps ask President Trump, too… He seems to like the idea of reinvesting in America.

On that note, I rest my case.

That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.

Best wishes,

Byron King

Byron King
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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Byron King

A Harvard-trained geologist and former aide to the United States Chief of Naval Operations, Byron King is our resident gold and mining expert, and we are proud to have him on board as the managing editor of Whiskey & Gunpowder.

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