imageMike Leavitt, the HHS Secretary whom you may remember as the guy who tried to redefine abortion as anything which interfered with a woman's natural cycle of getting pregnant as soon as they thought of semen and the guy who fought for the conscience clause rules, is back.

George Will interviewed this brave reformer, who in turn revealed that he should never, ever be anywhere near the decision making process for any creature more intelligent than a gecko. And that would have to be a really shitty gecko.

Suppose, says Leavitt, buying a car were like getting a knee operation. The dealer would say he does not know the final cumulative price, so just select a car and begin using it. Then a blizzard of bills would begin to arrive -- from the chassis manufacturer, the steering-wheel manufacturer, the seat and paint manufacturers. The dealership would charge for the time the car spent there, and a separate charge would cover the salesperson's time.

Leavitt says that until health-care recipients of common procedures can get, upfront, prices they can understand and compare, there will be little accountability or discipline in the system: "In the auto industry, if the steering-wheel maker charges an exorbitant price, the car company finds a more competitive supplier. In health care, if the medical equipment supplier charges an exorbitant price, none of the other medical participants care."

Here's the problem with this comparison, and I'll make it very, very clear for the esteemed Secretary:



A car's final sale price can be determined because every potential cost that goes into it can be assessed beforehand, and if costs on a particular unit go awry (something breaks, a part of the process goes wrong), that unit can either be fixed or discarded within certain cost parameters. On down the line, every actor involved in the process can be readily aware of the set costs of every part of the process which affects them upfront, and can make the conscious decision to engage in the process, negotiate lower prices, or leave the process altogether.

My grandmother's had two knee replacements, one on each leg. Each was a different surgery from each other, and each was also likely a different surgery from the other knee replacements done in the hospital that day. She has diabetes, blood clotting issues, heart trouble, asthma, so on and so forth. During her surgeries and during her recoveries, any number of specific adjustments were made to her care. She wasn't a car on an assembly line, to be pushed out as fast as was reasonable and able to be taken off the line and sent to the scrap heap if too much went wrong.

The last thing we should want from our healthcare system is to treat medical professionals like line workers. Putting this in the context of the precious babies that Leavitt so loves, how does it behoove our future hordes of non-aborted babies to have every birth treated as if it's no more special or precious than a Honda Civic?