First we'll talk about rationing. But government-run health care will open the door for more than bureaucratic control over who gets the pace-makers and the Alzheimer's drugs.
Rationing will be necessary
Obama's vision of a reformed health care system necessarily includes rationing. He has half-acknowledged the need for a decision-making board --
Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It’s not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that’s part of what I suspect you’ll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.He dodged the question during the ABC ObamaDay marathon. But, as in the UK, there will of necessity be a group that will make the judgments on whose lives and well-being are worth investing in.
Imagining your own or a loved one's fate in the hands of bureaucrats and "experts" is horrifying. Read this WSJ article about NICE, the UK board that decides who is and who is not worthy of particular drugs and treatments. They've made some very bad medical decisions because their decisions are based on cost and "there is a limited pot of money." Examples: rationing of medicine to treat macular degeneration, which causes blindness, to one in five, and for only one eye, because "When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients." The board ruled to refuse treatment of early Alzheimer's with Aricept though the drug is most effective when taken at the onset of dementia. The article gives more examples of the board going against best medical practice.
Controlling a lot more than "health"
The control of our medical system can have effects that extend even further than our own pathetic little lives and deaths.
Every area of life can be made to fit under the umbrella of a government-controlled medical system. If it isn't about our physical health, it's about our environment, which impacts our health, or about preventive medicine. And nothing is more open-ended than the concept of "mental health."
All of the following are related to physical or mental health: abortion, disabilities, Down syndrome, overpopulation, poverty, welfare, immigration, gay marriage, sex education, public schools, ADD, end of life issues, global warming, pollution, nutrition, farming, technology, manufacturing, automobiles, smoking, guns, stem cells, cloning, vaccines, prenatal screening, genetics research. You can probably think of dozens more.
A talk show caller speculated that the government might decide that it's in our interest to mandate the search-and-destroy prenatal testing that pro-life women now opt-out of, because it will be more cost-effective than letting flawed children be born and live expensive, low-quality lives. Or that post-delivery tube-tying the hospitals so generously offer new mothers might not be so optional. That extra baby might be harmful to someone's mental health -- the child's, the sibling's, the mother's or father's, the annoyed neighbor's, or the harrassed teacher's. Or the child might just be a liablility to the environment, which is critical to the health of all of us.
If that last example strikes you as crazy, and I hope it is, how about something more mundane, like the government requiring a rowdy seven year-old boy to take Ritalin against his parents' will. Or nutrition police raiding little Destiny's Jonas Brothers lunch box of anything "unhealthy." Or a ban on war-zone smoking or used children's books and clothing.
Government-run medicine has so much potential for control that it almost makes Cap & Trade redundant. (That light bulb, furnace, or wood stove that is so bad for The Planet could be banned as being "unhealthy," because what's good for The Planet is good for us.) It's a blank check for our liberty.
More thoughts along these lines from the Motor City.
Linked by Michelle Malkin (buzzworthy)
Cross-posted in the Green Room.
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