Monday, August 31, 2009

Myths or Facts?

Much of the talk about healthcare reform recently has been about the so-called “myths.” The democrats say that the republicans have made them up just to try and start trouble. The republicans do seem to bring written proof from the proposed bills, but that does not stop the President from claiming they are ‘myths.’ (This could be a result of him not having read the proposed bills himself, but let’s not go there now.) I would like to address two of these ‘myths’: the ‘Death Panels,’ and the coverage for illegal aliens.

The President keeps saying that he has no idea where this idea of the ‘death panels’ has come from. The idea might have come from taking a peek just north of us, or across the Atlantic and witnessing the rationing of care that goes on in those countries with socialized medicine. Where older people find it extremely difficult to get procedures done, which are offered more readily to younger people. This can be called ‘death panels,’ for the older people who have been denied that certain procedure, might have really needed it, and only did not get it because the government has decided it is not worth it for older individuals to receive such care.

But, this is not the only place where the idea might have come from. The idea might have come from the President himself. During one of the first of the ‘town hall’ meetings the President has been hosting, the topic of end-of-life care was discussed. (For those of who are interested, this was the one that was aired on ABC on June 24th.) The topic was introduced by a physician from the Mayo clinic in Rochester who said this “I'm Dr. Michael Jenson at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I see too many patients who have terminal illnesses or no hope of recovery who receive weeks or months of intensive care unit treatment, only to prolong their death. I find this approach very distressing and the waste of money is appalling. We just can't afford to provide all treatments to all people.”

This frightening introduction was followed by a woman who spoke about her mother, who was told that she was too old, and that it would not be worth it to do a certain procedure on her. But the woman and her mother felt that she really wanted it, and that after meeting with the physician, the physician decided that the lady had such a strong spirit, that he would go along with the surgery. The woman was 100 at the time of the surgery and she is now 105.

President Obama responded by saying this “I don't think that we can make judgments based on peoples' spirit. That would be a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that say that we are going to provide good, quality care for all people.” How about we make judgments on what the patient and physician feel they want to do? The patient wanted to try the surgery, and the physician felt that he wanted to do it. The President responds by saying that he is not sure if under his system this woman would have been able to get the care. That there would have to be guidelines that deicide specifically who gets care and who does not. I ask you, is this not a ‘death panel?’ If, like Obama said, the panel would have decided if this lady would have been able to get her surgery or not, (and if not, let her die,) then the panel would be exactly what they are being called.

The president said, don’t worry no one is going to pull the plug on Grandma. Now, that is probably true, at first. But mainly because Grandma would not have even been plugged-in, to start with.

The next ‘myth’ I would like to address is the coverage of illegal immigrants. The President has denied this claim, but I am not sure how. Let us remember that the root of this healthcare reform is, as the late Ted Kennedy said, that all people have a natural right to healthcare. If this is truly what the call for reform is based on, then how can we deny a natural right to someone just because they have not filled out their papers yet? Just like we can not kill an illegal immigrant, it would be wrong to deny one of healthcare coverage (if healthcare is a natural right.) So, since this is the premise the democrats are working with, I do not see it feasible for them to not feel it necessary for illegal immigrants to be covered as well. Which is why I would be shocked if they did not make sure to include it in their bill (as many democrats have said they intended to.)

If the call for reform was more along the lines of, ‘as a whole our country is in good shape. Thus, it would be such a shame if we would have people who needed healthcare but could not receive it. Let us work out a system in which we could get healthcare to people who need it.’ Not based on them being entitled to it, but based on the fact that it we have devised a system that would give them the privilege of receiving healthcare in an economically sound way. If this was the case then, non-Americans who are not members of our society would not fall into the category of people, the Americans who are struggling, who we are seeking to help out. Help being the key word. For the reform would be based on physicians willing to generously give treatment to those who were not able to afford it.

This is sort of what Obama was claiming during the campaign when he said that as the richest country in the world, it is unacceptable that we have people without healthcare coverage. Well, I am not sure he can still make this argument. We are in debt, and the debt is growing. So, based on his own words, I think it would be a fair claim to say that until we fix the debt, any system that would increase debt, or hurt the economy is out of the window. The CBO has reported that all of the proposals so far have only shown increases in the national debt possibly reaching a trillion dollars.

So, if a system is proposed that would not cost any money and raise our debt, then maybe we can talk. When a system is suggested that is based on the generosity of physicians who are willing to participate, maybe we can have further discussions. When a system is thought of, that accepts the idea that being treated is a privilege and not a right, some progress is being made. But until then do not get fooled when Obama brushes aside republican attacks as ‘myths.’ For the only true myth is that a system that will not ‘damage our healthcare system or ruin us financially’ is being proposed.

Bumper Sticker of the Week: 'Annoy a liberal: Work hard and be happy.'


  1. By richest is meant the population.

    Interesting way to quote things that help paint a negative picture and then to summarize Obama's response rather than to also give that in a quote. What was left out in your interpretation and summarization of the response?

  2. I quoted his response, and I think I responded to it in a very fair way. You can find the transcript online, just google for the speech I was talking about.