To listen to Glenn Beck and other right-wing pundits, President Obama’s proposals for health care reform are the first step in turning America into Cuba or Venezuela.

But the truth is that the health-care system favored by conservatives is only marginally less government-run than the public option and must-buy health insurance favored by progressives.

All medical practitioners — physicians, surgeons, dentists, nurses, etc. — must be licensed by state and local governments, and approved by the federal government if they are to receive reimbursement for their services from Medicare.

All hospitals and clinics must also be government licensed, with additional licenses for teaching hospitals.

All degrees awarded by medical schools are only valid if they’re issued by medical schools approved by state-sanctioned medical boards.

Doctors may only prescribe pharmaceuticals or medical devices approved by the FDA — that is if they’re not on lists of substances prohibited by law from being prescribed at all, and providing them gets one a visit from the DEA.

Flu epidemics exist or not by a decision made by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also approves or disapproves of the vaccines to treat them.

An entire department of the Federal government is devoted to regulating “Health and Human Services.”

Finally, fifteen percent of the U.S. population — those 65 or older or declared disabled — are already enrolled in fully-socialized “public option” government health insurance through Medicare and Medicaid — and as high as a third of the U.S. population have at times been eligible for 100% U.S.-government-run health care provided through the Veterans Administration.

So Fox News and right-wing radio pundits ranting that President Obama and the Democratic Party want to bring socialized medicine to America is not only hypocritical and ignorant of history. It’s just obliviously silly.

I’m 56 years old, and I have never drawn a breath when my health care wasn’t fully regulated by — often paid for by, and sometimes directly operated by — the government, at one level or another.

It’s undeniable that expanding government health insurance to those under 65 who aren’t veterans or disabled — and forcing healthy people to buy healthcare policies to lower premiums for those with preexisting illnesses — is indeed moving in the direction of universal single-payer health care.

But to argue that President Obama and the Democrats want to bring us socialized medicine ignores the obvious.

We’ve had socialized medicine for generations.

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