Diary

Huckabee Takes Health Not Health Care Message to Vegas

Huckabee made in appearance at the American Medical Group Association’s Annual convention in Vegas and he took his health care message there:

As the opening keynote speaker, Institute for Healthcare Improvement President and Chief Executive Officer Donald Berwick said that anyone who claims the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world is not looking at the facts. But at a luncheon the next day, Mike Huckabee disagreed, and pointed out how the latest medical advances are more likely to originate in this country than anywhere else.

“I would argue we have the best health care on the face of the earth,” Huckabee said, explaining that the U.S. is facing a health crisis brought on by poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise, and the current intervention-based methods of healthcare delivery can’t fix that. He compared the state of the nation’s health to a football game where 22 people in desperate need of rest are being cheered on by 70,000 people in desperate need of exercise.

He noted how, if the U.S. could lower its healthcare bill from 17% of its gross domestic product down to 11%, it would save $800 billion a year. “That’s enough for another bailout,” Huckabee said.

“Giving people unlimited and unfettered access will only accelerate bankruptcy of the system,” Huckabee explained, while noting that deep-fried Twinkies on a stick are sold for $3 at the Arkansas State Fair. “Spending more money on the same system is not reform. As Margaret Thatcher said, ‘At some point, you run out of other people’s money.’ ”

Huckabee wasn’t speaking as a conservative advocate of social Darwinism, but as someone who once weighed more than 300 pounds and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at age 46 in 2003. He then turned his lifestyle around by losing 110 pounds, running in four marathons and getting healthy enough so that he no longer takes medication.

Huckabee said physicians and patients should be rewarded for better health. If smokers can take smoking breaks, nonsmoking employees should get time to take a walk, he said. Employees who follow unhealthy lifestyles are rewarded by getting sick days off, he said, while healthy workers then have to toil harder to compensate.

Huckabee has been clear that he doesn’t want the government to become “The Sugar Sheriff or the Grease Police” but if we don’t address the lifestyle issues that are driving health care costs in some way, I don’t see how you fix the problem.