“G17, you may step up to window 9 for a cursory look into whether we will facilitate your claim concerning your medical condition. We do hope your two hour wait was pleasant.” These were my thoughts while I stood in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles waiting to renew my license. What if I was waiting for an urgent health check up for my child, only to find out when I reached window 9, that Washington had lost my child’s records?
Each of us has had to deal with a break down of the system at the Department of Motor Vehicles or another government agency, yet generally it is not a mistake that involves the well being and health of an individual. Yet, is there a greater argument in this debate that must be addressed? Is the health of the individual at stake or is the very health of our Nation in jeopardy?
Pondering the discussion on health care, I began reading all that could be found in order to better grasp the debate. I spoke with friends, insurance agents and health practitioners to get some real life perspective in what can at times be an emotional and very personal discussion. The following are some of the responses from the people who would be affected by the Obama plan.
“If health care is a right, it is a subset of the right to life. The right to life has never encompassed all the means of sustaining life before. For example, just because the government could not lawfully starve you, that did not mean that it had a duty to feed you.
I think there are plenty of better defenders of capitalism out there than any argument I could muster (see, e.g. Milton Freedman, Ludwigvon Mises, Friedrich Hayek), but there are two primary reasons I oppose government-run medicine:
First, there are very few things that government does well. Making war, taxing people, confiscating property, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people (not necessarily the right people, mind you): these are things government does tolerably well. And, because these are the things it does tolerably well, these are the things it will do more of when it gets more deeply involved in health care.
Second, every “right” (benefit) that one person has means another person bears a burden. All resources are limited, so, if everyone is going to have basic health care, some people are not going to have premium health care. Unlike economics, where one can get rich without making another poor, in the socialized world we always trade excellence in a few things for adequacy in most things.
Also, what kind of people are going to want to become doctors in the new regime? Already many good doctors are leaving because of the HMO and PPO mess. People who make good doctors are people of great compassion and desire to help mankind, not people who want to make bureaucrats happy. But guess who will thrive in the new system but the one who pleases the bureaucratic overseers by giving low-cost, high “efficiency” (and therefore mediocre) care.
Of course, in regard to Madison, he lived when they were still leeching people, so I doubt he ever envisioned the federal government subsidizing leeches.” (Interview with Dan Dewit)
“This whole health care thing is CRAZY and here’s another point: Herb, Matt and I are a healthy family! Out of my monthly paycheck: $691 for a PPO and over $1000 if I wanted HMO!!!!! This is madness and SO unfair!!!! Instead of rewarding us for good health and giving us a break, premiums are based on age. Is that discrimination??? Land of the free, HUH?? So what are we to do???” wrote an irate friend.
Another woman shared this, “My husband’s company laid him off. He ran a small plumbing company on the side and began working solely for himself. Our family had medical coverage through our small business under Health Net and my husband had coverage through his employer, also under Health Net. When he was laid off, we immediately called to put him on the small business plan. Health Net said that they needed a letter from Health Net showing continuous coverage. It took weeks for this letter to be mailed. When the letter was finally obtained, the insurance company said they needed the two months of back payment to cover my husband, even though it was the insurance company’s delay that caused the gap in payments.”
These are only a few stories in thousands, that represent the broken system in the private sector, but can a broken government do any better?
The health practitioner I spoke with said that something must be done, yet he wasn’t sure what was best and more specifically, he didn’t think the government could be counted on to fix the problem.
And a health insurance agent, selling insurance to small business owners and individuals, during the time of the election, ran into these responses. One gentleman stated, “I was interested in purchasing insurance, but now I am just going to wait until Obama provides it.” Others would respond to the term “affordable health insurance” with the idea that it was free. When they called for a quote, many times because their employers had to cut back and health insurance was the first item to eliminate in order to keep the company afloat, they were shocked by the cost of insuring their family. The agent stated that most often the desire for insurance was relegated to down the road. He discovered that the choice between making a monthly payment on an insurance premium versus the ski boat payment was really where that final decision was made.
This is a complex issue not one easily fixed, nor can it be ignored. Yet having the government step in to save the day, will not ultimately save lives, nor money, but will jeopardize the health of our country and lay the burden on the backs of future generations. Although the health debate affects real people, there must be a look at the philosophical, ethical and moral reasons that the government should not get involved as Supreme Giver of Health Insurance.
The following is the philosophy found on the Democratic Party’s website in regard to health care
The American people understand that good health is the foundation of individual achievement and economic prosperity. Ensuring quality, affordable health care for every single American is essential to children’s education, workers’ productivity and businesses’ competitiveness. We believe that covering all is not just a moral imperative, but is necessary to making our health system workable and affordable. Doing so would end cost-shifting from the uninsured, promote prevention and wellness, stop insurance discrimination, help eliminate health care disparities, and achieve savings through competition, choice, innovation, and higher quality care.
Health care reform must also provide adequate incentives for innovation to ensure that Americans have access to evidence-based and cost-effective health care. Research should be based on science, not ideology. For the millions of Americans and their families suffering from debilitating physical and emotional effects of disease, time is a precious commodity, and it is running out.
Even in the first sentence, there is a fallacious statement. Is good health the foundation of individual achievement and economic prosperity? There have been many examples through out history, who have in poor and failing health achieved greatness and/or economic prosperity. In American history alone, we have examples in the following individuals. Helen Keller was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Teddy Roosevelt was a weak and asthmatic child who grew up to be one of the most robust and ambitious United States presidents ever. Of Franklin Delanore Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor Roosevelt thought FDR’s polio was “a turning point” that “proved a blessing in disguise; for it gave him strength and courage he had not had before”. Not only did Abraham Lincoln suffer from serious bouts of depression, but he also tried to give advice to others he knew were suffering. Lincoln’s depressions, whether they lasted for hours, days, weeks, or months always came to an end. Knowing this, he could encourage others.
The Democratic Party talks a good talk, that tickles the deaf ears and brings false light to the eyes of it’s constituents. But their utopia can never be obtained through a universal health care plan. Good health is not a right, Constitutionally or otherwise, and it can not be mandated or legislated. Though we all hope and pray for good health for our families, friends and loved ones, we should not believe the lie that the Democratic Party is the giver of such promises. The ideological statement posed by this Party of Change ignores those who have gone before in spite of great challenges to health and wellness, who have achieved greatness on their own, without the benefit of the Government giving them “benefits”.
Another important question is this: “Will Dr. Obama, M.D. and his colleagues swear the Hippocratic Oath when they take over the Health Care of our Nation?” As I read through the original Greek oath, I was astounded to find that already this new administration does not hold to this ancient oath.
- I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant. (Modern version: I SWEAR in the presence of the Almighty and before my family, my teachers and my peers that according to my ability and judgment I will keep this Oath and Stipulation)
- To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else. I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. (Modern: TO RECKON all who have taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents and in the same spirit and dedication to impart a knowledge of the art of medicine to others. I will continue with diligence to keep abreast of advances in medicine. I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations, so long as the treatment of others is not compromised thereby, and I will seek the counsel of particularly skilled physicians where indicated for the benefit of my patient.
Is the Obama Administration able to fulfill this dictate, seeking the counsel of skilled physicians for the benefit of the patient, as opposed to the benefit of their political agenda? Can the government truly take care of every American citizen, from the halls of Washington D.C., assess their needs physically and mentally and thereby render a treatment that will keep them from harm and injustice? Absolutely not!
- I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.
Both Obama and Hilary Clinton supported in separate interviews Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Law. Hilary Clinton stated that Oregon was “breaking new ground and providing valuable information as to what does and doesn’t work when it comes to end-of-life questions, I think, is very beneficial.” When Obama was asked this question, “A couple of other issues of interest to Oregonians involve initiatives passed by the voters that have come into conflict with the federal government: physician-assisted suicide and medical marijuana. Do you support those two concepts?” He answered: “I am in favor of palliative medicine in circumstances where someone is terminally ill. … I’m mindful of the legitimate interests of states to prevent a slide from palliative treatments into euthanasia. On the other hand, I think that the people of Oregon did a service for the country in recognizing that as the population gets older we’ve got to think about issues of end-of-life care. …” http://www.deathwithdignity.org/
- Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. (Modern: I WILL FOLLOW that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.)
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills,income support, and caring adoption programs.
- In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art. (Modern: WITH PURITY, HOLINESS AND BENEFICENCE I will pass my life and practice my art. Except for the prudent correction of an imminent danger, I will neither treat any patient nor carry out any research on any human being without the valid informed consent of the subject or the appropriate legal protector thereof, understanding that research must have as its purpose the furtherance of the health of that individual. Into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or corruption and further from the seduction of any patient. I WILL FOLLOW that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.)
Our very Constitution has foundational ties to the principles and writings of ancient Greek society, yet even in this, the Administration strays far from these ideologies that helped to make our Nation great and that have been pivotal in the medical community for thousands of years.
- I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.
Should the government create an office in which men and women, who are not involved in the medical field and therefore untrained at “using the knife” be given authority in the name of Government Health Care to make decisions that only a doctor should make with his patients?
- Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
No government remains perfectly just and moral when it views itself as the righter of perceived wrongs as its societal ideology. The administration views justice as “wealth distribution” and in this case “health distribution”. Those who have must be willing to give up their premium health care so those who don’t have may partake in some lesser form of health care. There is intentional injustice at the expense of the “haves”.
- What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about. (Modern: WHATEVER IN CONNECTION with my professional practice or not in connection with it I may see or hear in the lives of my patients which ought not be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, reckoning that all such should be kept secret.)
The administration hopes to “improve the economy and deploy electronic health records for every clinician and hospital in the U.S.” . If the government has access to one’s private medical records, does this not infringe on the individual’s protection under the Fourth Amendment? Do we as American citizens want the government to have access to our most private records?
- If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.
(Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_classical.html and also http://members.tripod.com/nktiuro/hippocra.htm
As I read this ancient document, I realized that our government is in no position to be taking on the role of Health Care Reform. The reform that must take place runs deeper than many are willing to admit. This is not just a Republican or Democratic issue, but a deeply moral and personal issue. If we in America can not hold to our own Constitution, how then can we hold to the ethical ideals put forth by “the civilization of the ancient Greeks that has been immensely influential on language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts”? The Hippocratic Oath merely highlights how far we have fallen from great moral and ethical truths that have been held for thousands of years. When an government begins to correct perceived wrongs, appeasing the voters, but refuses to engage the greater issues of morality because to do so would mean to explore areas of foundational truths that many choose to ignore or not believe as true for today; then that society will follow the way of every other great civilization and will no longer be a beacon of morality and goodness, but a “has been of history”.
The founding fathers would be astounded at how far America has come in terms of the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. They would stand in awe at the great progress that the people of the United States have made in the arenas of science, education, art and literature. They would be delighted that leeching is no longer the medical care of choice prescribed by physicians. Yet I believe there would be grave concern because of the direction that this progressive government has taken and the callous disregard for the moral and the foundational truths that birthed this Republic. The health of our Nation is at stake, but not because we are debating health care reform, but because we are not debating the health crisis that is at the very heart of our country: morality and truth’s demise.