Bernie Sanders Picks the Wrong Enemy

Last Friday, Bernie Sanders tweeted an attack on the Mayo Clinic:

Sanders’s tweet links to a post by a college English teacher on a left-wing web site–the ultimate in health care expertise, if you are a liberal. This is the background:

Mayo has, over the last three years, closed or reduced services to small towns, including Springfield, Lamberton, Fairmont, LeRoy and La Crescent in Minnesota, and Waukon in northeastern Iowa. Mayo has also reduced services in Albert Lea, including a labor and delivery unit, and moved them to the hospital in Austin.

At the same time, Mayo is opening its first hospital outside the United States in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, one of the wealthiest nations on the globe.

The English teacher explains:

“I just think the optics look so bad for them, when they extend their global brand as the disparities continue to widen between rural and urban America,” Hajdik said in a PB interview.

Mayo has established a hospital in the Emirates because it draws a large number of patients from the Emirates and other parts of the Middle East. For similar reasons, Mayo has set up branches in Arizona and Florida, where many Minnesotans who are long-time Mayo patients retire to escape confiscatory taxation. No doubt profits earned in such locations help the clinic to provide first-rate services to hundreds of thousands:

“Mayo Clinic is proud to serve over 500,000 patients in the health system,” said spokesman Karl W. Oestreich. “We remain committed to providing high-quality services to all of our patients, whether here in Minnesota or abroad, and continue to work to find creative solutions for serving rural communities in the future.”

Mayo’s doctors have saved countless lives, as compared with Bernie Sanders, who has saved…none. But what is Bernie’s point? Rural America has indeed seen a contraction of medical services, hospital closings, and so on, and this is a concern in many rural communities. But is “Medicare for all” the solution? No. There are plenty of people in small towns on Medicare. There are plenty more who have private insurance or are on Medicaid. The problem isn’t a lack of insurance, the problem is a lack of people. As agriculture has gotten progressively more efficient, fewer people are needed to work on farms, and many have moved to urban areas. “Medicare for all” would do nothing to address the issue of declining rural health services, which is caused by a lack of demand, not by a lack of insurance.

Of course, full-scale socialized medicine could “solve” the problem by simply establishing hundreds of thousands of money-losing clinics and hospitals in small towns across America. All that is needed, on that scenario, is taxpayers willing to foot the bill. History tells us, however, that socialized medical systems, like the National Health Service in Great Britain, do not spend vast amounts of taxpayer money on low-demand services. Rather, they ruthlessly ration access to health care to keep costs down. The idea that under a far-left regime the government would pay to establish low-demand clinics or hospitals in Springfield, Lamberton, Fairmont, LeRoy, La Crescent and Waukon–I’ve never heard of three of those towns–is delusional.

Bernie’s attack on the Mayo Clinic isn’t smart politics, either. I don’t think Sanders is a serious contender for the Democratic nomination, but if he were, attacking the Mayo Clinic is a sure-fire way to concede Minnesota to Donald Trump, who almost carried the state in 2016. In the 21st Century, Minnesota’s struggling economy has added a perceptible number of net jobs in only two sectors, health care and education. The Mayo Clinic is a rare bright spot in the state’s economy, and, remarkably, is now the state’s number one employer. So, way to go, Bernie: You are now officially an even weaker presidential contender than Hillary Clinton.

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