Much of the press coverage of the Democrats' health care legislation, now fiercely embattled in Congress, focuses on the public option, the actual long-term costs and tax increases, and the amendment barring funding for abortions. But the cold heart of Obamacare is its overpowering of the doctor-patient relationship – eventually resulting in the premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly.
To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments each year of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure will be punished by losing part of their own incomes....
Moreover, President Barack Obama has made clear that eventually he desires a U.S. equivalent of the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a commission that decides which drugs and procedures for patients are within the national budget for health care. The current baseline expenditure for each Briton, according to Michael Tanner, is $44,305 per year.
In this country, bureaucrats keeping tabs on patients – without actually seeing them and their condition – will mean, as Tanner notes, that "every time a doctor decides on a treatment, he or she would have to ask: 'Does the government think I'm doing this too much? Will I be penalized if I order this test?'
President Obama and his supporters in Congress insist that clinical studies prove how many needless and expensive tests and procedures are so often performed. But these are collective statistics. Individual patients are left out….
"Clinical studies routinely exclude patients with more than one medical condition and often the elderly or people on multiple medications. Conclusions about what works and what doesn't work change much too quickly for policy-makers to dictate clinical practice." Everyone, regardless of political party, should keep in mind: "If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government-mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly, federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions," Groopman and Hartzband wrote.
If congressional Democrats succeed in passing their health care "reform" measure to send to the White House for President Obama's signature, then they and he are determining your health decisions….
We do not elect the president and Congress to decide how short our lives will be. That decision is way above their pay grades…
by NAT HENTOFF
Syndicated columnist in The Orange County Register