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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|ObamaCare or BieberCare? - Sunday, February 20, 2011
The House is about to take up a budget proposal that would block funding for ObamaCare. If you believe as I do that nationalized health care is unsafe as well as unnecessary, contact your representative now and make your views known.
At this critical time, it might be useful to update and bring together some of my columns on this topic. This is the fourth.
ObamaCare or BieberCare?
David C. Stolinsky, MD
Perhaps nationalized health care should be called BieberCare rather than ObamaCare. That font of wisdom, Justin Bieber, declared that the American health-care system is “evil” because people have to pay, while the system in his homeland of Canada is better because it is “free.”
Justin did not mention that our “evil” system produces the best cancer-survival statistics, as well as over 60% of the Nobel Prizes in Medicine. In contrast, Canada’s “free” system produces waiting times for surgery of over four months, while thousands of Canadians − and people from all over the world − come here for health care. How “evil” is that?
Having been raised by a single mother, Justin identifies government with the care-giving mother rather than the rule-giving father. It may be that the more children are raised by single mothers, the more citizens will see government as Big Mommy rather than Big Daddy. It may be that this is even more damaging to freedom. As kids mature, it is natural for them to rebel against the rule-giving father. But they continue to turn to the care-giving mother when they want care.
Liberals see no reason to oppose nationalized health care except greed. Fear of the government denying needed treatments to save money, as is happening in Britain? Destroying the health insurance with which most Americans are satisfied? No, conservatives couldn’t be worried about those very real possibilities. Their motives couldn’t possibly be decent. Conservatives tend to see liberals as mistaken, ill-informed, and foolish. But liberals tend to see conservatives as selfish, greedy, and − as Justin Bieber said − evil.
Clearly, health insurance is an important aid in obtaining optimum care. Those lacking insurance tend to have diseases diagnosed later, in less curable stages. But there are other factors to take into account:
● Lack of health insurance is not the same as lack of health care. I spent my professional life working in public hospitals, providing care to patients who were uninsured and often indigent. To equate lack of insurance with lack of care is to spit on the work of thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians, and others.
● Lack of health insurance is often temporary, when people are between jobs, or have moved to another state.
● Lack of health insurance is often voluntary, when young people decide to spend their money elsewhere, or when immigrants prefer to send their money back home to relatives.
● Lack of health insurance may be associated with unhealthful lifestyles, including poverty, poor diet, alcoholism, drug abuse, or criminality − all of which can contribute to poor health and premature death, but none of which are caused by lack of insurance. For example, the leading cause of death for black males aged 15-29 is homicide. ObamaCare cannot solve that problem.
Health insurance is only one aspect of health care, and health care is only one aspect of health − together with lifestyle and heredity. I get angry when I hear politicians claim that 40 million Americans lack health care, and even angrier when I hear politicians claim that they intend to provide everyone with health. Listen closely − some actually say it.
Besides, even if we accept that lack of health insurance causes deaths, we must also consider that single-payer insurance, which is President Obama’s goal, also causes deaths. Recently a government panel recommended that mammograms be routine only between the ages of 50 and 74. It also recommended against breast self-examination. The recommendations are already being implemented.
How many deaths will result if government-run health care makes the recommendations universal? How many women will die of breast cancer that could have been cured if it had been discovered earlier? And how many men will die of prostate cancer if PSA screening, especially of younger men, is discouraged?
The sad fact is that a great deal of money will be saved by Social Security and Medicare if people do die years before their time. How many deaths and how much suffering will result if we all are forced to take Dr. Obama’s prescription for hip replacements (“Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller”) or for pacemakers (“If we’ve got experts that are advising doctors across the board that it will save money”)?
When did placing money above prolonging lives and relieving suffering become a “liberal” position? Imagine the uproar if President Bush had said something like that. He would have been excoriated as a heartless beast and a “Nazi.” But when President Obama says it, it goes virtually unnoticed. If you need further proof of the bias of the mainstream media, there it is.
During my training, I saw a young man with brain cancer that caused him to fall into a coma. Both his pupils were dilated and did not constrict to light. Most patients like that will be dead in hours or days. He was cured. Another patient had an aggressive cancer that caused lumps which grew from day to day. Most patients like that will be dead in weeks. He was also cured.
No “algorithm,” no cookbook, could ever include patients like those. Politicians talk about groups, but doctors treat individuals. At least they do now. If the government forces doctors to use a cookbook, individuality is lost − and so are lives.
Our current system of health care is hardly ideal. But in our quest for the ideal, we risk destroying what is good. A reasonable person asks about the possible harmful effects of proposed changes. A reasonable person notes that America, which supposedly has a “broken” system of health care, also has the best cancer survival statistics in the world, while Britain, with “universal” health care, has much worse results. Why?
Perhaps these results are inevitable when physicians are replaced by paper shufflers and pencil pushers. Perhaps these results are inevitable when the people elect a president who, when a state senator, demonstrated his disregard for human life by voting three times against a “born alive” bill, which would have required medical care for babies born alive after “failed” abortions.
It ill behooves liberals to cry crocodile tears about the supposed future deaths that conservatives are prepared to ignore, when their idol, Barack Obama, has demonstrated that he ignores current deaths − and hardly anyone seems to care.
Are liberals “compassionate” just because they say they are? What about the estimated 800,000 jobs that will be lost under ObamaCare? How “compassionate” is that?
Are conservatives “heartless” just because liberals say they are? Conservatives speak up for the unborn, the newborn, the elderly, and the disabled. How “heartless” is that?
Under our current system, if you have no insurance, you can go to any emergency room. If your insurance won’t pay for a treatment, you can go to a public hospital. You can complain to your state insurance commissioner. But under a government-run system, where do you go if the single payer won’t pay?
President Obama demonstrated his lack of respect for young life by his votes against “born alive” bills, as well as by his statement that if one of his daughters became pregnant as a teenager, he would not want her “punished with a baby…or an STD.”
I have many faults, but at least I do not regard an unplanned baby as a “punishment” equivalent to syphilis or gonorrhea. In fact, my medical training − and my religious outlook − both prevent me from viewing disease as a punishment. So the thought that a baby is a punishment is even more foreign to my belief system.
What is more, Obama demonstrated his lack of respect for older or disabled life by his statements regarding hip replacements and pacemakers. This lack of respect is further shown by his notion of funding ObamaCare by “saving” $500 billion from Medicare, as well as by the seemingly coincidental recommendations of “experts” to restrict mammograms and PSAs.
Proponents of nationalized health care think people like that should make life-and-death decisions for us and our loved ones. They think health care should be “free.” They think the government should take care of us. Naiveté and unclear thinking are forgivable in a 16-year-old pop idol whose voice − and reasoning power − have yet to mature. Such thinking is unacceptable in adults − which we supposedly are.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.