Since the Democrats last night offered anecdote-after-anecdote in order to justify the passage of Obamacare, I guess anecdotes are now completely fair entries into the debate. Let me offer two of them.
A friend of mine listened to the healthcare vote while driving home from a hospital, where he’d spent the day with his 80 year-old father.
His father is a robust man, fully in his wits, who only retired “for good” about six months ago. He had retired from his job as a line man and became bored after a few years of retirement (“how many times can I clean out the gutters and fix the boat engine?”) so he had become a part-time flag man -the guy who flags traffic as roads are repaired- for about a decade.
Over the winter my friend’s father went for a routine physical, during which (and through subsequent testing) it was discovered he had lymphoma, and lung cancer.
The two cancers were not connected -they were two separate events in his body- and so the lymphoma was addressed first. Mr. K. spent the winter going through chemo. This week, the lung cancer and one lobe of his lung was removed, and the doctors feel pretty confident that the pathology report will show additional tissue to be clean.
Mr K., as you might expect, is feeling pretty lousy right now, but he has hope. “In about six to eight weeks, you can do everything you ever did,” the doctors told him. Good news for a man who likes to stay busy.
As my friend was driving home last night, he couldn’t help but think back to the “healthcare townhall” President Obama held, where a woman talked about her 105 year old mother, who was in excellent health thanks to a pacemaker inserted when she was 100 years old by doctors who saw her “joy for life” and ignored her age. The woman wondered if Obamacare was going to be interested in giving her mother the sort of medical attention she currently enjoys, or will she simply be considered “too old,” when the bureaucrats who will now decide how public monies for health care are spent, consider her case.
Obama’s answer was unsurprising. He said many words -he always does- but not the words “your mom will get the exact same level of care she now enjoys.”
In fact, he ended his remarks with, “…maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”
Remembering this, my friend wondered: under Obamacare, would his father, at age 80, have been denied chemo and surgery, and simply offered palliative care as he was sent home to die, when he is a man who has the spirit and drive to enjoy many more years, with proper medical care?A man who worked hard all his life, paid his taxes, played by the rules and served his nation in the military should be able to hope for more, in his old age, than “take the painkiller,” shouldn’t he?
We spent last night at a birthday party, with the debate on in the background, and one SIL told me of a friend whose mother came to the US, from Europe, because she could not get vascular surgery in her country. Over 70, it turns out, was “too old” for such a waste of public money.
“But for goodness sake,” said my SIL, “Mom and Dad both had surgeries in their 70’s; that’s when a lot of people have vascular surgeries, stents, all kinds of procedures…”
Well…maybe not so many, any more.
Interesting Perspective from a UK physician who got out:
“In a private fee-for-service medical system, a dead patient is a revenue loss. In the National Health Service (UK), a dead patient was a cost savings.” -Harry Bailey MD 1930-2003, Sheffield (England) University Medical School 1950-1956; Harvard Medical School 1958-1981, US Navy Medical Corps 1982-1991.
The above quote is from my late father. He had a very unique perspective on the practice of medicine, especially as it relates to the various delivery systems. He was born and brought up in England and entered medical school there in 1950,
Another anecdote from Bookworm
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