Fred Barnes: The Health-Care Wars Are Only Beginning





[Mr. Barnes is executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a commentator on Fox News Channel.]

On Dec. 7, 1941, an announcement was made during the football game between the hometown Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. All the generals and admirals at Griffith Stadium were instructed to report to their duty stations. Little did they know their lives would be changed forever and America would be at war, or on war footing, for the next half-century. Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

America will be in a constant health-care war if ObamaCare is enacted. Passage wouldn't end the health-care debate. Rather, it would perpetuate ObamaCare as the dominant issue for decades to come, reshape politics, create an annual funding crisis in Congress, and generate a spate of angry lawsuits. Yet few in Washington seem aware of what lies ahead.

We only have to look at Great Britain to get a glimpse of the future. The National Health Service—socialized medicine—was created in 1946 and touted as the envy of the world. It's been a contentious issue ever since. Its cost and coverage are perennial subjects of debate. The press, especially England's most popular newspaper, The Daily Mail, feasts on reports of long waiting periods, dirty hospitals, botched care and denied access to treatments.

A Conservative member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, last year in an interview on Fox News denounced the NHS as a "60-year mistake," declaring he "wouldn't wish it on anybody." As prime minister, Margaret Thatcher bravely cut NHS spending in the 1980s, but current Tory leaders regard criticism of the NHS as too risky. "The Conservative Party stands four square behind the NHS," its leader, David Cameron, said in response to Mr. Hannan....

Enacting ObamaCare would be only the beginning. The controversy surrounding its passage and how it might work would preoccupy the president, Congress and millions of average Americans for the foreseeable future—and then some.


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