Of all the things I worry about a government-run health care system doing, killing my granny isn't one of them.
She's been dead for decades, but that's beside the point.
Fears that nationalized health care will lead to rationing of services and denial of life-sustaining treatment for the elderly are ludicrous.
Congress ultimately will be the health care decider if the government takes over, and Congress never says no to anybody, least of all a voting bloc as potent as senior citizens.
What we ought to be worried about is an explosion of services and treatments extended to every advocacy group that wheels a sob story before a congressional committee. Congress will have no will to contain costs at the expense of votes.
Universal government health care will work just like Social Security and Medicare.
Congress has known for decades that both programs are hurtling toward a cliff. Social Security has an unfunded liability of $100 trillion -- a number impossible to get your mind around.
By the time I'm eligible to get my spoonful of gravy in a dozen years or so, the program will require 25 percent of all tax dollars to stay afloat.
The outlook for Medicare is more dismal. The current version of government-run health care will, in another 40 years, devour nearly 100 percent of the federal budget, leaving nothing behind for the government to carry out its core functions of providing for the national defense, maintaining the avenues of commerce and running automobile companies.
And yet, Congress will do nothing to bring these programs to solvency. It won't cut benefits and it won't raise contributions, at least not on the general population. Former President George W. Bush started out trying to privatize Social Security, failed and settled for adding a new and hugely expensive drug benefit to Medicare.
No reason to think the same pattern won't be repeated with national health care. Those pushing a public option say with a straight face that innovation and combating waste will pay the bill.
But Medicare certainly hasn't been a leader in cost-cutting innovation.
It hasn't had to; it can ask the federal government to print more money when costs rise.
Cost-cutting initiatives in health care are driven by private employers working with insurance companies and hospitals. Look at Michigan, where such a Blue Cross collaboration saved $247 million and 1,800 lives by improving intensive care procedures.
Minimize the role of these private stakeholders in the system and the incentive for cost control is lost.
Congress doesn't have the discipline to demand and enforce best practices, limit unnecessary tests or deny claims and treatments.
If it ends up running health care, the biggest threat to Granny will be the free Viagra we'll be mainlining into Gramps.
Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The Detroit News. His column runs on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com or (313) 222-2064. Watch him Friday on "Am I Right?" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.