Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We would be fools to turn over healthcare to this government

In an August 6th, 2009 article titled “Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon”, journalist Susan Donaldson James describes a horrifying event that occurred to Oregon resident Barbara Wagner.

“The 64-year-old Oregon woman, whose lung cancer had been in remission, learned the disease had returned and would likely kill her. Her last hope was a $4,000-a-month drug that her doctor prescribed for her, but the insurance company refused to pay. What the Oregon Health Plan did agree to cover, however, were drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost about $50. “

When I first wrote this article, I was under the impression that it was a private insurance company that rejected her service. But I was wrong: it was the state-run healthcare plan!

Why would the state-run do healthcare system do this to a person? Well, to put it quite frankly, in order to eliminate waste (and increase profits). “…Under [Wagner’s] insurance plan, she can the only receive ‘palliative’ or comfort care, because the drug does not meet the ‘five-year, 5 percent rule’ -- that is, a 5 percent survival rate after five years.”

Oregon is a state that has passed Doctor Assisted Suicide laws, called the “Death With Dignity Law”. Obviously intended originally to give terminally ill patients the ability to choose death on their own terms rather than languish in suffering for years, the law may appear on the surface to be a compassionate solution to one of the most difficult decisions a person can make.

But, in this case, instead of offering expensive care, the health plan offered a death pill instead.

I believe that it is the perfect example of how, given the option, the Federal Government will inevitably promote suicide or even euthanasia instead of “wasteful” care.

I have been researching euthanasia in Europe for a while now, and have published blogs on the topic in which I cite analysis showing how in some European states (principally Holland, although Switzerland also to a lesser degree) have begun to use euthanasia as part of their “health care” practice. No matter how well documented my sources are (even when government agency statistics are cited and links provided), I get responses from liberal friends who immediately dismiss the articles as “ridiculous lies”. Most simply refuse to read the articles. Others read parts, but then dismiss them outright.

When asked why they will not consider the articles, the response I get is: “You have a view, and you find whatever you can to support that view. Example: you hate socialism. Therefore, socialism kills the innocent.” So you just dismiss the concept from the start? “You’re absolutely right. When I hear that countries are killing their elderly, and we’re going to start doing the same, I just dismiss it.”

The next dismissal is predictable: “We would never have euthanasia in the United States.”

This was said in the context of my allegation that if we implemented single-payer healthcare in the United States, the government would inevitably head down this same morbid path, exactly as have the governments where they have socialized medicine: it is already happening.

Liberals scoff at concerns about section 1233 of the Healthcare Bill in the house currently (HR 3200), in which doctors are encouraged to discuss “end of life options”. In his article, “Undue Influence”, Washington Post writer Charles Lane explores a number of concerns people have about the government option, and openly questions whether or not the Federal Government’s plan would “force everyone over 65 to sign his…own death warrant.” Lane boldly states that his is “rubbish”.

“Federal law already bars Medicare from paying for services "the purpose of which is to cause, or assist in causing," suicide, euthanasia or mercy killing. Nothing in Section 1233 would change that.” May I point out that laws can be changed?

However, Lane adds that, having read section 1233, “it is not totally innocuous.”

“The 1997 ban on assisted-suicide support specifically allowed doctors to honor advance directives… Section 1233, however, addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones. Supporters protest that they're just trying to facilitate choice -- even if patients opt for expensive life-prolonging care. I think they protest too much: If it's all about obviating suffering, emotional or physical, what's it doing in a measure to ‘bend the curve’ on health-care costs?”

When we have examples like the current one, in which the “villainous” health care insurance companies not only refuse care, but suggest death instead, it is clear that the argument “it would never happen here” is moot, to say the least. There are those who are already testing the waters, right here.

So, how radical of an idea is it to suggest that, if state-run health care programs are already suggesting suicide instead of care, the Federal Government will someday do the same thing? Why are we to believe that only states will apply cost-saving analysis to care, but the Federal Government will not?

We are talking about the same US government that didn’t want to send the recommended number of troops to Iraq, in order to save money. The result? A prolonged war and unnecessary number of dead soldiers.

It’s the same government that didn’t properly equip all of the troops it sent—again, as a cost-saving measure. How many troops died unnecessarily due to these “frugal” policies?

It’s the same government that has had a “trust responsibility to provide health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, {and yet} the Indian Health Service is substantially underfunded and understaffed.” There is no shortage of documentation supporting the allegation that our federal government has seriously underserved our Native Americans.

To quote an article by Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota who recently wrote "How Will Universal Health Care Affect Native Americans?":

"Those Americans opposed to it compare it to Canada's or Britain's health care systems, which they say are nothing but socialized medicine. The Indian Health Care system, deemed a "historic failure" by Sebelius, has also been labeled as socialized medicine, and the fact that she would label it as a failure does not place much faith in an even larger universal health care system. It just seems that every time the federal government takes total control over anything, failure is almost assured. Watch out General Motors."

He ends his article: "If you think the government can solve all of our problems ask an Indian."

Why should we believe that a government that has allowed its troops and the Native Americans to “go without” will suddenly change its stripes when we hand over the entire health care industry?

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