The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

The thoughts expressed here are my personal thoughts and sometimes reflect my political views. As a private citizen I have every right to express these views.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Government Death Care

Obamacare is coming! Obamacare is coming! And we're all supposed to be thrilled now that our healthcare decisions will be made as much by government bureaucrats as by our doctors. Of course we still don't know exactly how the full implementation of Obamacare will affect us as individuals since the bureaucrats have yet to complete writing all the rules that must be followed by hospitals,  medical professionals, the insurance industry, government agencies at all levels, and by you and me. As the then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, famously said during the rushed legislative process that brought us Obamacare: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”


In other words, Ms. Pelosi and the President, and all the others who actively supported this legislation, really had no idea how Obamacare would be implemented. They just wanted it passed because they inexplicably believe the government can run things better than the free market. I say "inexplicably" because government-run healthcare is certainly nothing new and we should be able to learn something about it by examining how it's been implemented elsewhere. And most of these implementations are pretty scary.

One of the goals of government healthcare is to control costs, which can lead to interesting decisions regarding the care of the chronically ill and the elderly. As the costs related to such care increase, the system develops controls and incentives to lower these costs. In the United Kingdom, for example, National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are given large monetary rewards for referring patients to facilities that treat those whom they believe to be dying. This "treatment" consists of withdrawing drugs, fluids and food, and administering powerful pain relievers. This is, of course, simply a form of euthanasia poorly disguised as healthcare. As one might expect, the program has led to lots of referrals -- Hey! The money's good -- and has even led doctors to refer patients who really aren't at all close to death.

In the UK, one of these facilities, the Liverpool Care Pathway, is at the center of a scandal relating to its treatment of the patients under its care. It seems the Pathway is really a pathway to a quick death, even for those who aren't dying. Read this article from The Telegraph to get the full story. This is just the sort of thing we can expect here as government control of healthcare expands over time.

I have an acquaintance, a senior citizen who suffers from a chronic condition, who is a strong supporter of Obamacare. His condition, although incurable, can be treated with expensive medications and occasional surgeries. I wonder how long it will take some bureaucrat to conclude that any money spent to extend the life of this "old man" could be better spent elsewhere. As I told him some time ago, "By supporting Obamacare, you just might have signed your own death warrant." He just laughed.


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