A Medical Freedom Island in a Nanny State Sea

Today, if government doesn’t regulate something, you can be sure someone will ask why not. From heating pads to home improvement to health care, the demand for government regulations has given politicians and bureaucrats the excuse to take more and more power and control away from citizens – all for citizens’ own good, of course.

But if people are looking for safety and security from government, they need to look again. Government regulations have laid a dead hand on entrepreneurship and innovation. This has made many people worse, not better off.

But now imagine a place where people could contract with other people free from government regulations. Would they still be safe and secure? Yes, private regulations already exist in the U.S., even in the health care sector. In fact, a new report shows where entrepreneurs and innovators could set up islands of health care freedom right here in the U.S.  

Regulations are the rules that govern an activity. When people talk about regulation, they usually mean government regulation. But government isn’t the only organization that makes rules. It is possible for private individuals to create rules of conduct to govern their activities without the coercive force of government.

Private regulations already help people stay safe and secure. Private regulation refers to voluntary agreements and contracts between people, and is the product of market decision-making, not government coercion. For example, if a corporation, or even a government, wants to let people know they will be financially secure if they buy their debt, that corporation or government goes to private bond rating agencies like Standard and Poors. Private companies like Consumers Reports also create a sense of security with its tests and certification of products.

Voluntary, private regulations are not foreign to the health care sector either. Private licensing organizations already work to make people more safe and secure. Two private organizations: the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which makes credentials in 26 different areas of specialization available to nurses, show government is not required to ensure patient safety.

The health care sector is ripe with opportunity for even more voluntary contracts between patients and health care providers. That’s because government has often not made us safer and more secure. In fact, government has made many people worse off. Nobel Prize winning economists such as Milton Friedman have pointed out how government bureaus such as the FDA have increased the costs and delayed the introduction of new drugs and in doing so have harmed the health of Americans.

For example, although clinical evidence shows aspirin helps prevent heart attacks, the FDA doesn’t allows manufacturers to tell people about this. As a result, people may miss out on this cost-effective preventative measure and even worse, may die needlessly.

In another example, the National Organ Transplant Act made it illegal to pay for bone marrow donations. Technical advances in the way bone marrow is donated makes the process as simple as a blood donation. Nevertheless a group of cancer patients had to take the government to court to force it to make paid bone marrow donations legal.

Human suffering and death don’t appear in the cost sheets of government central planners but do in families who have lost loved ones. Pain, suffering and needless death are the real prices we pay when government regulations prevent doctors and patients from working together to find the best solution for the patient.

But what if there was a place where patients and doctors could work together to give patients the best type of health care available. Could one be created right her in the U.S?

A new Liberty Brief called Medical Freedom Zones published by the Wyoming Liberty Group describes just how an island of health care freedom could be created in the U.S. on Indian reservation land.

“The legal precedent to set up a zone for health care freedom on tribal land already exists,” said Regina Meena, Legislative Affairs Analyst at the Wyoming Liberty Group. “We show how to apply an existing tool in a new way.”

Both the gaming and payday lending industries on reservations are examples of how businesses can deliver the services consumers are looking for free from most bureaucratic interference. Medical Freedom Zones shows how to apply a similar approach in the health care sector.

The report discusses how an Indian reservation offers greater protections to innovative business because the U.S. Supreme Court shields tribal authority on reservation lands. Health care professionals would be able to set up private businesses and enjoy greater protection from federal government meddling when they contract with a tribal nation. When Indians and non-Indians enter into voluntary, clearly documented contracts, the Supreme Court has upheld tribal sovereignty against most federal and state government interference.

The opportunity to create an island of medical freedom in a nanny state sea exists right here right now. A system of private rules and regulations, agreed upon voluntarily by people who freely choose to participate in that market would provide the safety, security and cost-effective innovation Americans are desperately looking for. Medical freedom zones can bring the entrepreneurial spirit back to health care in America.

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