Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reform Rx – Death Deliberations

Death panel phobia is sweeping the country in the latest right wing fear ‘n smear campaign. We have a top Republican, Senator Grassely, who we are supposed trust as a contributor to a bipartisan solution, talking about the government possibly “pulling the plug on Grandma”.

There is positive and rational end of life planning counseling in the house proposed plan and in no plan are there any euthanasia clauses. The bill language, which may likely and unfortunately be withdrawn now, actually aims to do the opposite of what the fear mongers exhort with whispers to screams. It seeks to clarify individual wishes and protect individual choices with the effect of not to passing on such matters to government decision making. It is a classic conservative/libertarian individual freedom protection. That is why when one looks at the initial placement of this concept in the bill it actually has Republican origins!

Experience by others with health care review and “Medical Councils” in other industrialized countries do the exact opposite of what the fear mongers purport. Real experiences show better access to services result from medical reviews and that access to care rights are recognized and protected.

Once again unrecognized in this faux Fox generated debate is the fact that we already have death deciders in this country. They are indeed faceless, bureaucratic, and rule arbitrarily without emotion or compassion. They are organized around your wallet in the form of what insurance card you are or are not fortunate to carry and the amount of medical care you can afford. Look at the real evidence noted in a key Commonwealth Fund report:

Preventable mortality: The U.S. fell to last place among 19 industrialized nations on mortality amenable to health care—deaths that might have been prevented with timely and effective care. Although the U.S. rate improved by 4 percent between 1997–1998 and 2002–2003 (from 115 to 110 deaths per 100,000), rates improved by 16 percent on average in other nations, leaving the U.S. further behind.

Our existing death deciders do exactly what the fear mongers seem to be screaming about. Helpless people without fair consideration are being denied care and allowed to die. Now the right wing wants you to believe this will be your mother or even in wilder erroneous examples, Physicist Stephen Hawking or Senator Edward Kennedy who must have been writing legislation for years of a suicidal nature! In reality it the poor, homeless, and pre-existing condition victims of modest income that get death sentences imposed by affordability of care, denial of access, and health insurance transgressions.

It is unfortunate that the rational truths that answer the lies being generated by the right wing receive little attention. Even more regrettable is that these boastful chest thumpers proclaiming that we have the best care in the world do not believe in this country’s creative ability to design an affordable and fair superior health care system free of the tyranny of private health care profits.

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