Editor's Choice

Death by government health care

The world waits in breathless suspense for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Obama readies contingency plans for implementation of all or part of his signature legislative achievement should the Supreme Court validate Obamacare or invalidate only parts of it. If the Supreme Court throws out the whole act, then Obama will run against the Supreme Court in November.

Republicans in the House ready a plan to repeal the whole thing and start over.

Before all this becomes the total focus of our attention, let’s step back and consider the first question that should be asked: is Government involvement in your health a good thing?

Obviously everyone would like someone else to pay for their health care, that’s the promise politicians make. Then comes the “implementation” with gargantuan bureaucracies, reams of forms, and unreadable and unworkable regulations. Soon followed by fraud, investigations, commissions, new legal mandates and “protections”, and an even bigger and more expensive bureaucracy.

Just as in government education, where half of many K-12 school districts’ employees are not teachers, in government health care the cost of government “implementation” will exceed the cost of the care. But cost is not the only, or even the chief, concern. Your health is unique to you and no two people are alike.

But the essence of government is treating everyone the same. This contradiction will mandate unnecessary testing, misdiagnoses, restrictive methodologies, limited drugs, and one size fits all treatment. Add aggressive tort lawyers and the consequent outrageous cost of doctor’s liability insurance to the restrictions of government imposed programs and “health care” becomes more about rules than health and more about covering your backside than care.

The yearning for the traditional doctor-patient relationship which recognizes the unique individual patient’s hereditary background, diet, exercise, and health challenges as the context for the doctor’s professional judgement will not be suppressed by government dictate.

Both doctors and patients are in revolt.

Already, many doctors are refusing to see Medicare or Medicaid patients and doctors who already see these patients are refusing to take on any new cases just as the number of enrollees in these programs is soaring.

Also soaring is the number of doctors reverting to cash for service, denying all insurance programs, public or private. What started with cosmetic surgeons is fast spreading to other specialties as more patients are willing to pay for quality, individual care.

Even this clash over the quality of care, and who defines it, is not the most pressing concern. Just as the private market rations health care by price, government health care programs ration health care by mandate.

In the 2008 campaign, Obama stated that elderly, terminally ill people ought to “take a pain pill and go home” and the crowds cheered. When Sarah Palin characterized the provisions in Obamacare that carried out this campaign promise as “death panels”, she was roundly booed.

But, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is often held up by liberals as the model for how American government health care should be run. The NHS runs a very effective death panel with the benign name of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

Patrick Pullicino is a consulting neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent. In a recent speech to the Royal Society of Medicine in London, Professor Pullicino accused the NHS of killing off 130,000 elderly (LCP) patients every year to free up hospital beds.

Professor Pullicino detailed how this “care pathway” became euthanasia by government mandate, “treatment” includes withdrawal of water and nourishment, resulting in death. Pullicino told of an instance when he intervened in the case of a 71 year old man who was admitted with pneumonia and suffering from epilepsy, he was put on the LCP to die by an attending physician applying government rules. Dr. Pullicino treated the man’s seizures, treated the pneumonia, and the now healthy patient was discharged to his family four weeks later.

It is certain that budget pressures under Obamacare will result in regulations governing end of life care just as has happened in Britain.

Today in our country, medical directives included in an individual’s will and trust documents can specify what life extending measures should be taken, or not taken, under end of life circumstances. This patient directed approach contrasts with the government mandate approach written into Obamacare, would you prefer that you or the government determine when you die?

The best outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare would be to start over with the basic question of what role, if any, government should play in this most personal and private aspect of our lives.

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