Friday, July 17, 2009

Another administration, another health care debate


Some of you reader(s?) may have wondered why I haven't mentioned anything about the health care debate raging in Congress right now. First of all, it is hard to debate a health bill that changes every day. As soon as you argue one point, the language of the bill changes and the argument is moot, a lot of wasted hot air. Then there is my conflicted opinions about what I want from all this. My doctor brain wants to have universal care, to make sure everybody in this country has health insurance. My taxpayer brain wants to limit how much money I want to spend for other people's health care, especially people who have abused their bodies with alcohol or drugs or people who just refuse to buy insurance just to save money, like people who don't buy car insurance.

And this is where the debate usually bogs down. We want universal health care, which everybody is for. But we don't want to acknowledge that the price will be astronomical. So now we need price controls, which is where the lobbyists take over to protect their turf. It would be much easier to pass into law if we can say we want universal health care and screw the costs or control health care inflation but screw the people.

We can have a socialist system like the Europeans. But nobody seems to want to face the fact that they face far higher tax rates and they don't seem to mind health care rationing. Can anyone imagine telling an American that their 89 year old Alzheimer's grandmother is not allowed to have state paid dialysis three times a week, ICU bed with full code status, while under ventilatory support? They would trot out a 60 Minutes reporter and some media hired gun ethicist to say how cruel this system is to the most vulnerable. Rationing will never work in this country but that is where we are headed.

There are so many facets to this debate and each and every side has a valid point. So somebody will get screwed if and when this passes (most likely doctors and hospitals. No unions, no clout). I will talk more on this subject in the future.

2 comments:

  1. You infer that it would be undesirable for someone's 89 year old grandmother to be denied very expensive life-extending treatments. Although most people want to do all they can for their own loved ones, I'm afraid it is time for us to be adult enough as a country to face the fact that we all die at some point and it is not acceptable for society's needs to be sacrificed in order to extend the lives of octogenarians.

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  2. Actually my point is that this country should and will start rationing health care. But it will not be easy. There will always be some victims' rights group somewhere ready to publicize the heartless nature of denying the best care available because there is not enough resources to go to their cause.

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