American Elephants


Is There a “Right” to Health Care? by The Elephant's Child
August 3, 2009, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Health Care, United Kingdom | Tags: , , ,

British author and physician Theodore Dalrymple had a brief and excellent essay in the Wall Street Journal asking “Is There a ‘Right’ to Health Care?” It is an interesting question at this particular time.

There are constant arguments for newly invented  rights coming from the left.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his State of the Union Message to Congress on January 11, 1944, said that the rights guaranteed to us by the Declaration and the Constitution were no longer enough.  He went on to propose a  “Second Bill of Rights” based on “Security and Prosperity.”

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation; to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; of every family to a decent home; to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; to a good education.

Mark Levin, from whose splendid Liberty and Tyranny I extracted this excerpt, says “This is Tyranny’s disguise.  These are not rights.  They are the Statist’s false promises of utopianism, which the Statist uses to justify all trespasses on the individual’s private property.  Liberty and private property go hand in hand.  By dominating one the Statist dominates both, for if the individual cannot keep or dispose of the value he creates by his own intellectual and/or physical labor, he exists to serve the state.  The ‘Second Bill of Rights’ and its legal and policy progeny require the individual to surrender control of his fate to the government.”

Hollywood dreams up its fantasies of world’s end with wrecked and vacant cities and perhaps inures us to the very real things that happen in this world of ours.  If we do not understand history we neither appreciate what we have,  nor grasp the possibilities of what could be.

If you do not look at the stories and pictures coming out of Iran and understand what it is like to live under tyranny, you are missing the point that is so clearly made.  Venezuela, under Caesar Chavez, is eliminating the right to free speech. Cuba, we are told,  has splendid health care, but it is only for cash-paying tourists.  Ordinary Cubans get dirty rooms and abysmal care. Tyranny doesn’t come lumbering in loudly announcing itself,  it creeps in gradually offering goodies if you will just allow those who are wiser and more important to control your life.

In Britain, Mr. Dalrymple says, the recognition of a “right” to health care has led to substandard care.

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it.  Inevitably, that “someone” is the government.  Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products.  It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself.  This is wrong:  There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating),. but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from?  Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination.  Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence.  He cannot think of one.

The rest of the essay is to be found here.  As a physician, Mr Dalrymple has long practiced in Britain, and his reflections on the British Health Care system (NHS) are worth a great deal of thought.



The Democrats Clarify What They Have in Mind for Your Health Care, In Their Own Words. by The Elephant's Child

(ht: Hot Air)



If We Adopt ObamaCare, Where Will the Canadians Get Their Health Care? Part I. by The Elephant's Child

Nepotism is alive and well in the Obama Administration.  One of President Barack Obama’s key advisers on medical policy is the brother of his exceedingly partisan chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.  Dr. Emanuel has written a paper on “The Perfect Storm of Overutilization” which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Emanuel thinks we use way too much medical resources.  He doesn’t even like fancy waiting rooms, he believes that physicians are too highly paid and he doesn’t like the Hippocratic Oath.  He doesn’t like American hospital rooms which offer more comfort, privacy and extra services than hospital rooms in other countries.  Back to big wards, I guess.

Dr. Emanuel calls for medical students to be trained “to move toward more socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” In order to reduce spending, doctors will have to be pressured to deny treatment.  The Canadians do not allow most cardiac treatment for patients 65 and older.  The Hippocratic Oath’s promise “to use my power to help the patient to the best of my ability and judgment” prompts doctors to use too many medical resources.

The legislation for influencing your doctor’s decisions was included in the stimulus package — The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  It sets a goal that every individual’s treatment will be recorded by computer, and your doctor will receive electronically delivered protocols on “appropriate” and “cost-effective” care.  No individual judgment here, just follow the program.  In Britain, they deny treatment for elderly people’s macular degeneration until they have gone blind in one eye.

Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor, has been named national coordinator of health information technology.  His writings, according to Betsy McCaughey, also favor limiting the amount of health care that patients can get.  He agrees that there may be longer waits and reduced availability of newer and more expensive treatments or devices.  “If electronic health records are to save money,” he wrote, doctors will have to take “advantage of embedded clinical decision support.” [euphemism alert!] Computers telling doctors what to do.

Age discrimination will be big under Obama Care.  We were all young once, so denying care to the elderly in order to give more to the young and fit is the goal.  This is a fundamental part of Britain’s National Health Service, and Canada’s Health Service.  Watch out if you have a lot of health problems too.

The President spoke last Monday on health care.  He was flanked by heads of several of the major health care lobbying groups.  He announced, grandly, a “watershed event:”

These groups are coming together to make an unprecedented commitment.  Over the next 10 years —from 2010 to 2019 — they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.

Uh huh.  The president of the American Hospital Association said that a deal with the White House had been “spun way away from the original intent.”  They promised to try to reduce spending gradually over 10 years, eventually trying to reach 1.5 percent. The agreement had been misrepresented.  There’s “frankly a lot of political spin” he said.

The most ethical Congress ever plans to ram Obama’s Health Care program through without any possibility of filibuster or dissension.  No consideration of unintended consequences.  No reading the bill.  No checking on the rules and regulations.  Economist Larry Kudlow says that it will be at least $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion more at least, and will bankrupt the nation.  Not that the country is not bankrupt already.  Every nationalized health care plan has cost far, far more than estimated.

What do you want to bet that the most ethical Congress ever has no intention of giving up their own very special health care plan to join the rest of the nation in socialized medicine?  This is billed as only a way to get those 45 million uninsured covered with health care policies.  Except that the 45 million number is a lie, and if the whole deal is to cover the uninsured, why the elaborate plan to force doctors and hospitals under threat of losing their licenses to follow the government’s computerized protocols?  Logan’s Run or it’s remake The Island have come to life.

Rasmussen reports that 70 percent of insured Americans rate their health insurance coverage as good or excellent.  Only 32 percent would pay higher taxes to provide health insurance for all.   54 percent say they’re not willing to pay more in taxes.

When Canadians or British citizens need medical care that they cannot get in their own system, they come here for the things that their own country denies them.  So where do we go when we are denied?

Stay tuned for Part II.




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