Over the past 25 plus years, the Federalist Society has helped establish a conservative legal establishment that has successfully pushed back against the liberal ideas entrenched in law schools and government. Tonight in New York City, the Benjamin Rush Society will host its inaugural under the leadership of Sally C. Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. Pipes recently discussed her project with National Review’s John J. Miller:

MILLER: Why do medical students need to think about public policy? Isn’t that just time spent away from lessons on treating cancer and fixing ingrown toenails?

PIPES: Medical students need to think about public policy because the reforms that are coming to health care under the Obama administration all involve a greater role for government, which will take away their ability to practice the type of medicine in which they’ve been trained. Current legislation threatens to set up a public-insurance plan to compete with private insurers within a national insurance exchange. Mandates will drive up costs of private insurance. I believe that the government plan will be priced lower than the private plans. Therefore, the private insurers will be “crowded out” and we’ll be left with a single-payer, government-run system.

MILLER: Your debate on April 7 will ask: Should universal health care be the responsibility of the federal government? Well?

PIPES: I am on the “no” side of the argument. I grew up in Canada under a single-payer, government-run system where there is no private insurance. It’s been a disaster. In order to control costs, the government sets a global budget for health care. Canada spends about 10 percent of GDP on health care, while the United States spends about 16 percent, which is said to be too much.

As a result, in Canada, the demand for care greatly exceeds the supply. A few facts: The average wait between seeing a primary-care doctor and getting treatment by a specialist is four months; 750,000 Canadians are on a waiting list for some medical procedure; 3.2 million Canadians are waiting to get a primary-care doctor. These numbers are enormous when you consider that Canada has a population of 33 million — about the size of California.