by Phil Kerpen
The United States is in the process of destroying its health care system via lockdown; ordering that all but emergency medical treatments and procedures cease in the name of preserving health system capacity, we have emptied out hospitals to gird for a wave of COVID patients that never came.
Now hospitals are laying off and furloughing by the tens of thousands – and liberal opportunists see this, somehow, as a market failure that would justify government directly seizing control of the medical system through a Medicare-for-all plan. Liberals look at the virus response in Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom and think – somehow – that's what we need here. But we don't have to look to the catastrophic failures of systems abroad as a cautionary tale, because here in America the two biggest failures in our coronavirus response were failures of centralized government control.
The slow start in the American health response was caused by a failed testing rollout, due to incompetent bureaucracy that prohibited private sector testing in favor of a CDC test that didn't work and was contaminated by live virus. When it did finally did work there were severe capacity constraints – a problem caused not by too little centralized government control but by too much.
As government loosened its grip and allowed private labs to conduct testing, capacity scaled up dramatically. This is a lesson we could have learned from South Korea's experience, where their widely praised testing program was developed not by their national health system but by private companies that were promised fast regulatory approval.
The second major policy failure was the decision that crippled our health system capacity and likely significantly increases deaths from all causes. It was a directive from Medicare – the very program liberals now seek to expand to everyone to the exclusion of all choice and competition.
On March 18, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) "announced that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak."
With few if any exceptions, every health system in America implemented the directive, emptying out hospitals and doctors' offices and crippling health system capacity everywhere the anticipated wave of coronavirus patients failed to materialize. The Mayo Clinic, for instance, is furloughing 30,000 employees.
Emulating the fully government-controlled National Health Service in Great Britain, Medicare made the call that denied cancer patients care they need, ended more transplant surgeries, and sent a panic through the country that caused heart attack and stroke victims to tragically die at home under the mistaken impression that the empty hospitals were too busy to help them.
In the face of this Medicare-caused catastrophe, liberals have floated the new argument that in a fully government-run system, hospitals wouldn't suffer crippling revenue loss from canceling nearly all of their non-COVID medical services – because they would have direct taxpayer funding.
As if disconnecting revenue from the provision of actual medical care is...
by Jon Decker
In America we are accustomed to technology improving. Yet strangely, one technological problem innovation hasn’t solved is television blackouts — in fact, they are becoming more frequent.
In 2010, there were only 8 television blackouts. By 2019, that number had risen to 276. This increase is due to more frequent disagreements between Multichannel Video Program Distributors (cable, satellite and telco operators) and broadcasters over ever-growing fees that broadcast is demanding on the retransmission of content — fees that they were not entitled to until 1992.
As Dr. George S. Ford with the Phoenix Center noted:
Ever since the 1992 Cable Act allowed broadcasters to charge multichannel video distribution providers (MVPDs) for retransmission rights of their signals, broadcasters have demanded (and received) increasingly high retransmission fees. Between 2006 and 2019, retransmission fees rose from $215 million to $11.7 billion. Today, MVPDs pay about $11 per subscriber/month for over-the-air broadcast signals, raising consumers’ bills. The fee was $0 before the 1992 Cable Act.
This has been less of an issue for direct-broadcast satellite like Dish and DirecTV (now owned by AT&T) than cable because under a law called STELAR they have been licensed to negotiate with network outlets from other markets if they cannot reach an agreement with local affiliates. That license is set to expire June 1.
If this dispute is not resolved quickly, that shapes up as a date hundreds of thousands of consumers could soon lose local television coverage – and at a time where the fallback option of buying and installing an antenna is even less practical than usual. ...
By Phil Kerpen
Not even a global pandemic can keep us from another battle in the long, bitter, and ever more disconnected from reality net neutrality wars. The FCC just closed yet another comment period in this seemingly never-ending saga, and the usual let-wing groups used it to beat their usual drums.
But as millions of Americans bunker in their homes typing away on laptops, smartphones, and tablets while watching their smart TVs in between their streaming video calls, we should take stock in the marvelous fact that the Internet is holding up just fine while an enormous surge of formerly offline activities move online.
For two glorious years the left achieved their goal of reducing the Internet to a regulated public utility – and nothing they said would happen did. There was no nirvana for users or rebirth of political freedom. There was a deficit of investment and a boom in paperwork and bureaucratic nonsense and that's about it.
Then it was repealed by President Trump's pick for FCC chairman, Ajit Pai – in the face of a hyperbolic pitched political mobilization exercise in which the media and left wing groups claimed the world would end without the Obama net neutrality regulations that had existed for all of two years. The hyberbolic mania reached new levels of extremism – up to and including death threats leveled at the young children of members of Congress and Chairman Pai and a bomb threat called into the FCC on the day of the vote.
Of course nothing the angry net neutrality obsessives alleged would happen came to pass. Instead, we saw an incredible increase in network capacity, speed, and resilience as ISPs felt confident that their network investment would not be divested from them in the fever dream of the Marxist leaders of the net neutrality movement, like Free Press founder Robert McChesney.
Now, many of us sit in our homes waiting for the virus lockdown to lift, surrounded by children doing their school work and recreation on their computers and tablets while we take video call after video call ourselves.
It is hard to think of any greater enhancement to public safety, quality of life, and simple sanity during a period of prolonged home confinement than having reliable, fast, high quality network connectivity. The current pro-investment, pro-market policy has produced that outcome.
Europe – which has taken a more heavy handed regulatory approach than the Pai FCC – is having a different experience, with many countries throttling video traffic to prevent networks from breaking down.
Even Tom Wheeler, the former titular FCC chairman who adopted the Obama net neutrality order at the direction of the White House, has been forced to acknowledge the stunning outperformance of U.S. broadband networks compared to Europe. "Credit is due to the nation’s broadband providers. The fact we can work from home is the result of hundreds of billions of investment dollars and construction and operational skill," he said.
What he didn't mention is that the...