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Romania's 20-Year Nightmare: Unraveling Socialized Health Care

There is no better way to visualize the eventual disaster that a nationalized health care system can generate than to watch The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. This movie was inspired by the heartbreaking true story of Constantin Nica, a real retired Romanian engineer who had the misfortune of growing old in a country that still maintained a nightmarish government health care bureaucracy twenty years after its last Communist dictator was gunned down by his own people.

The movie's script follows the fictional Mr. Lazarescu as a Romanian government ambulance shuttles him from one government-owned hospital to the next. At the first three hospitals, although the doctors determine that he does need surgery, the government bureaucracy refuses to take him in because he is too old and does not have enough money to give baksheesh to the hospital personnel. Mr. Lazarescu stubbornly refuses to give up, but at the fourth hospital, the evil bureaucrats win -- he dies after a delayed and botched surgery. (The real Mr. Nica was in fact dumped by an ambulance onto a park bench and left there to die.) Mr. Lazarescu's real enemy was not his illness, but the uncaring and authoritarian attitude so deeply ingrained in bureaucratic practice. The whole movie is so realistic that even The New York Times -- a strong supporter of government-run health care -- had to admit that the movie "absorbs you into its world".[v]

I strongly suggest our conservative movement use The Death of Mr. Lazarescu as an instrument of election campaigning. Let’s show this movie all over the country, at conservative conventions, at major campaign meetings. It might be an expensive proposition, but it would cost infinitely less than fixing the long-term damage that could be caused by another four years of Democratic Party efforts to "socialize" the United States. This movie perfectly illustrates the long-range effect of having a country run by bureaucrats, not by "we the people."

American filmmaker Michael Moore glorified British nationalized health care in his 2007 documentary Sicko, which premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and received a 15-minute standing ovation from 2,000 people. In February 2012, however, British prime minister David Cameron announced that his government would reprivatize the country's nationalized health care system. For over 40 years the people of Great Britain have, over and over, watched their own The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. It worked there. It should work here.

[i] "Romania: Health Care System in Transition," European Observatory on Health Care System, 2000, p.4.

[ii] Helen Womak, "RUssia's next president needs to tackle health care reforms," The Lancet, Volume 371, Issue 9614, pages 711-714, March 1, 2008.

[iii] Ross Kaminsky, “What Will Obama’s Plans Cost the Nation?” Human Events, March 17, 2008, p. 1.

[iv] Helen Womack, "Russia's next president needs to tackle health care reforms," The Lancet, Volume 371, Issue 9614, Pages 711-714, March 1, 2008.

[v] Stephen Holden, " The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," The New York Times, January 2, 2008.