On Health Care, Hispanics Reject Government Meddling

On Health Care, Hispanics Reject Government Meddling
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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Speak to a Cuban immigrant about health care in his or her native land and you will hear of experiences with chronically under-stocked, rat-infested medical facilities equipped with dilapidated wooden benches in their waiting rooms.  Talk to a Cuban surgeon about preparing for an operation and he will tell you about traveling scores of miles to either barter, trade, or steal the equipment necessary to perform the most elemental of procedures.  A promising, young Cuban citizen wishing to become a physician must first pledge his allegiance to the Communist party and prepare to spend the first few years of his professional career in a distant third world country as part of Cuba's rent-a-doc program.

In Venezuela, the situation is "dire."  For them, going to a hospital for treatment means bringing your own food and medical supplies.  In fact, things are so bad that the government has stopped publishing public health statistics.  Despite this, the World Health Organization estimates that in 2016 there were 7,800 cases of tuberculosis, up from 6,000 cases in 2014, and in 2017, there were 414,000 cases of malaria compared to 36,000 cases in 2009.  This, in a country with the richest supply of oil in the Latin America.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Americans far removed from the realities of government health care wonder why Hispanics would walk away from the promises of universal health care offered to them.  The answer is quite simple.  Hispanics have seen this all before.

In Miami Dade, the Hispanic vote increased for President Trump from 333,999 in 2016 to 529,160 votes in 2020.  In the meantime, while Clinton picked up 624,146 votes in 2016, Biden's grab decreased to 613,086 votes.  The pattern seemed to reverse a trend amongst Miami's aging Hispanic community where now-grandparents and great grandparents adamantly oppose anything giving the appearance of socialism while the younger generations, especially amongst Cubans, are more comfortable with the idea of centralized government power.

What happened?  First, the scope of government intervention became too broad and too real this election cycle, as Hispanics recognized they were simply not in a position to trust the government on practically anything, let alone their health.  Second, the influx of Venezuelans into South Florida infused fresh reinforcements to the messages delivered by the older generations of Cuban immigrants.  For many young Hispanics, the warnings were no longer coming from mom and dad, but rather, they were delivered by their friends in school, their workmates, and their neighbors, many of who were their same age.

The bottom line is that the experiences with government run health care are too broad and too damning to allow Americans to blindly give up control of this most precious commodity. Americans, be they Hispanics, whites, black or purple trust their doctors and the medical team treating them, but they don't trust their government agents.  The sooner policymakers understand this, the faster we can begin work on finding real solutions to the challenges affecting our health care system. 

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida.  He served in the Florida House of Representatives.  He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist PagesThe Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons.  He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.

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