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Healthcare Controversies and Reform Battles

Failed health bureaucrats deserve privatization
By Charles D Frohman, M.Ed.
Posted on 4/5/2021 10:55 AM

The failure of our federal health bureaucrats to follow the science during the past year's Covid hysteria brings up a large free market reform first suggested by the iconic economist Milton Friedman:  PRIVATIZE the FDA.

It's a feature in the May, 2021 edition of the well-regarded Reason Magazine.   Another economist, Veronique de Rugy - with whom I worked at the Cato Institute - wrote in 2014 to privatize it.   She writes:

"A private alternative is based on the idea that we should treat people like adults, often better suited to know what is best for them than bureaucrats in Washington. The bureaucrats who work at the FDA are mostly well-meaning people — some may even be totally benevolent — but they work in an environment that suffers from the same perverse incentives that produced the VA scandal, the CDC scandal, and a raft of other potentially deadly government failures."

An Independent Institute scholar a couple years later added, in her column to replace the FDA:

"Competitive private rating agencies would not only be less expensive; they also would outperform their slow government counterpart, which has no competition. The agency itself faces no penalties for putting its seal of approval on products that turn out to be dangerous. Individuals in the agency, however, may lose their jobs if they approve unsafe products. This means that FDA personnel face an incentive to be too cautious. Many safe products may be delayed or never make it to market at all. The FDA faces no strong incentives to improve it methods. Since it is funded by taxpayer dollars, the FDA won’t lose revenue or customers for doing a poor job. It may even gain revenue if Congress tries to address the problems by increasing appropriations!"

She gives as an example of a private alternative:

"...Consider, however, that independent rating agencies are used today for a variety of products and services, from food and medication to charities. Take tuna, for example. In response to consumer concern about dolphins and other sea life, tuna producers voluntarily sought out independent firms to certify that their products were doing no harm. Firms that passed the test were allowed to place the rating agency’s logo on their products. Concerned consumers could then buy the products found safe for dolphins. This prompted other manufacturers to follow suit."

Let's not let government's Covid failure go to waste.  With half the population frustrated over this failure, now's the time for good Americans to advocate for a privatized FDA.

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