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The Forgotten Question in the Health Care Debate

Do you deserve to die?
Do your friends and family?

Rationed care. Image

The Forgotten Question in the Health Care Debate

Michael Collins

Scenario 1: You've just been diagnosed with a cancer of the lymphatic system. You're told that it requires a procedure within the next two weeks. Unfortunately, you were laid off from your corporate job 11 months, 30 days ago. You are on your last day of COBRA. Your company retirement and savings are all gone. You can't afford the $1,200 a month premium needed to continue your coverage. Without the operation, you will die. Do you deserve to die?

Scenario 2: Your spouse has a long history of illness. Then you discover she has a virulent infection that, if untreated, threatens to disable her to the point where she's immobile and requires 'round the clock medical care. You work for yourself. While you have catastrophic health insurance, it doesn't cover the needed treatment nor does it provide for nursing care. Does your wife deserve to experience this untreated sickness and suffering until her premature death?

Do you or your family members deserve to die simply because the rulers of this country can't get their act together to provide universal health care?

Do your friends and neighbors deserve the same fate?

What's the meaning of a nation based on a common bond when other citizens, those we don't know and will never meet, face the same grim end to their lives?

Others Determine Our Suffering and Death

We hear talk about health care rationing but one theme is missing from that dialog. Some of you who are the subjects of rationing will certainly suffer and some will clearly die well before your time as a result of health care denied.

Public health care rationing is a term that needs to be changed. Rationing is a conscious choice. Policy makers, legislators, and those who hold this view are saying that it is necessary to deliberately deny citizens health care because there "isn't enough money." These people need to be honest and stop hiding behind abstract terms. It's not rationing. It is mandated suffering and death guaranteed by those who support the current system or future systems that deny care for those in need.

Health care rationing is based on the assumption that we don't have enough dollars to provide for open access to health care by all citizens. But wait! Didn't we have enough dollars just recently to give $4 trillion to failed Wall Street financial institutions? That's now part of our deficit. We will have to pay it back. Yet we're told that we don't have enough dollars for a truly comprehensive universal health care system. We're also told that the health care system that we do end up with cannot, under any circumstances, add to the national debt.

Let's see now, we can't afford to ease suffering and save lives across the board and whatever we do short of that can't incur any debt. But we've just seen a bipartisan commitment of $4 trillion (plus another $8.6 trillion set aside) to bailout banks and save bank executive jobs but we can't do the same to save your life or that of your friends, family and fellow citizens.

Here's another example of distorted thinking and priorities. It is a conscious choice.

The proposed defense budget for 2010 is $664 billion dollars. A large portion will be spent on the Iraq and Afghan wars "defending" us by creating even more enemies than we ever had in that part of the world. But it's a matter of priorities. In order to defend us, the rulers require that we sacrifice our well being and lives at home to pay for that defense.

The Culture of Rationed Death

This is what's called a crisis in values.

The culture of rationed death prevails over the fundamental decency and humanity of caring for the sick.

Those aligned against universal health care consciously choose to impose their culture of death on the entirety of the population.

Who speaks for those of us who will end up without health care?

Which major figures on either side of the debate address universal health care as a life or death issue?

Who among the advocates of rationing are without health insurance?

Who among them are unable to afford or obtain their own critical care or the same for their loved ones?

Who among them will step forward and tell those denied medical care:

"You deserve to die."


Special thanks to Kathlyn Stone for her very helpful comments.

This article may be reproduced in part or whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

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