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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tom Reese SJ on health care reform

- Dr. McCoy (Spock in the background)

There's a kind of funny yet disturbing post by Thomas Reese SJ about health care reform at the Georgetown blog - Depressing Health Care Debate. Here's the part I especially liked ....

"The problem [with health care reform] is that voters prefer lies to truth. Doctors still believe that they should be treated like gods with offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Hospitals want to continue business as usual but just be given more money. Patients want a doctor with Welby's charm and McCoy's technology. Oh, yes, and it is to be cheap with no government regulations or insurance forms .... Is depression covered by this plan? Where is my happy pill? "

I'm interested in the health care debate in part because most of the jobs I've had have been working in hospitals, non-professionally, in the surgery. I just sort of fell into working at the hospital when I graduated from college, was starting to lose my vision, and could find no jobs in my major. It was so nice to work there - I got to wear scrubs :), I literally run around the surgery all day (and in my last job all night on the graveyard shift), and I saw stuff and participated in stuff, sometime of a hair-raising sort, that made me wonder about the nature of the human person, about the meaning of life and of death.

Anyway, I hope Fr. Reese is being too pessimistic and that universal health care will soon be not just a hope but a reality.


Blogger SusieQ said...

I am interested in the health care debate, too. It appears the debate is over though. It appears to be out of the hands of ordinary folks now and in the hands of a select number of politicians and bureaucrats. That scares me.

I am a senior citizen. What I hear coming out of the mouth of our very own president are words that lead me to conclude that we can look forward to cuts to Medicare services as part of the plan to reform health care in this country. The writing is beginning to appear on the wall.

I am wondering what will happen to me if I need a hip replaced when I hit 80 years old. Will some bureaucrat in Washington deny me the procedure due to my age and tell me to suck it up and take a pain pill instead? Our president said as much recently regarding a nearly identical scenario.

I am very concerned that the cuts to the cost of health care the government is looking to make will come at the expense of the elderly and the disabled. The disabled...that's you, Crystal, with the loss of your eyesight.

Most health care cost takes place after a person reaches the age when the body begins to show wear and tear and needs medical attention. This takes place some time in the fifties. It is about this time that high blood pressure and heart problems show up.

In the bill which the House is grappling with is a provision for end of life counseling of the elderly. Based on my own experience, most of the elderly have already set up their health directives. It seems to me that there is another purpose for this end of life counseling. I am afraid the real purpose is to encourage the elderly to forego a particular treatment that comes at a cost to society even though the treatment could extend their lives or make their lives more tolerable. I am afraid the elderly will be encouraged to think it their moral duty to the rest of society to check out early and save society those last few bucks. Government funded assisted suicide is right around the corner if that is the case. What comes to mind is George Orwell's 1984 and those beautiful, set to music, suicide ceremonies that were conducted.

When Terri Shiavo was in all the news, I will never forget what Maxine Waters said in that regard. She said, "We can't keep everyone alive forever." The thing is people are not asking to be kept alive forever. But people don't want their lives snuffed out prematurely either.

Lastly, I want health care reform. I want it to cost less. I want good, affordable health care to be available to everyone. But I do not want to see our current system dismantled and government run system put in its place. What you do not normally get from government is good service for one thing, precisely because the profit motive is absent.

I have more to say on this subject, but this is enough for tonight.

9:10 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi SusieQ,

I haven't been paying as much attention as I should to what they've been saying about the reform details. Hopefully they do not plan to reduce the benefits that people get from Medicare .... that'ss what I have too because that's the government health care insurance for those who are disabled like me (legally blind).

They have universal health care in many other countries and manage to do it without putting their seniors on a block of ice and shoving them out to sea .... We, all of us, will be seniors some day (if we're lucky :) and I'm betting that fact hasn't escaped the politicians.

I think Terri Shiavo didn't die because her health insurance wouldn't pay the bill - if I remember correctly, she died because her husband, who was her legal guardian, wanted her to die :(

10:13 PM  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...

The notion that the "end of life counseling for the elderly" is meant to discourage the elderly from seeking treatment is a Republican scare tactic that has been thorougly debunked.

See this for example.

One of the statistics people are always citing in favour of healthcare reform is the fact that people in countries with universal healthcare live longer than Americans. If life expectancy is going to be taken as an indicator of the success of a healthcare program, it would be counterproductive to deny care to the elderly.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I am trying very hard (under your tutelage)to be more "Christian." But SusieQ is just falling for right wing propaganda. Nothing she fears has any basis in fact. Jack

9:39 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for the link. The bloggers I know in Canada and the UK do seem bappy enough with their health care plan.

11:11 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Yes, I think this is one of the many scare tactics of the republicans to keep reform from happening.

11:12 AM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

My impression is that everyone here thinks the health care bill is simply hunky-dory in every respect and above criticism. I don't think this. I think that a big complex bill containing over 1000 pages consisting of legal language that is hard to understand, a bill that can dramatically change life in our society if enacted into law in some form deserves and demands our attention, our scrutiny, and our discussion. It is nonsense to try to write off as "Republican scare tactics" every attempt to call into question some aspect of this bill. Why aren't you concerned? Why aren't you entertaining questions yourself?

The majority in Congress want to pay for this health care bill with additional taxes and a 10% cut to Medicare funding over the next decade ($500 billion) while at the same time enrollment is expected to increase by 30% due to the baby boomers. This will necessitate rationing of health care to the Medicare recipients who are primarily the elderly. With this as a backdrop, mandatory end of life counseling which is provided in the bill and includes the use of things like scripts, videos, and brochures takes on a coercive quality. If an insurance company were try this, all hell would break loose. This particular part of the bill states that the patient's views will be considered in the decision making, but not that the patient will have the final say.

Betsy McCaughey, a Democrat, writes about this issue and others related to health care. Here is a link to one of her articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently. Assault on Seniors Do yourself a favor and read it. Also check out her bio at Wikipedia.

What a pity that my concerns, as I have expressed them here, about the health care bill before the House make it very hard for Jack to be "Christian." I'll keep Jack in my prayers.

8:14 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I'll look at the link. I don't think it's odd that you are concerned. It is a scary thing to make such a big change in our society.

My impression is that everyone here thinks the health care bill is simply hunky-dory in every respect and above criticism.

Not me - I don't know the details of the bill at all. I just am in favor of universal health care.

It is my bad that I haven't looked into the details yet. It's just that as it now stands, so many people do not have any health care at all, so I'm hoping that any kind of universal care will be an improvement.

Why will medicare be rationed? Will we that have it not just have to pay a larger percentage of our bills?

The end of life counseling does sound a bit creepy. Hopefully that won't remain in the bill.

Even under the present system, patients don't always have the final say about their treatment - my mom, who had private insurance, was not allowed to have some kinds of treatment for her lung cancer because she was deemed to old for it to pay off ... she wasn't allowed to participate in drug or treatment trials, and no one wanted to do surgery on her, so all she had was chemo, which didn't work.

9:25 PM  

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