After my post yesterday on the mandate in Obamacare for end of life counseling for seniors, (I "Twittered" the link) a few people responded with remarks along the line of - Why shouldn't we counsel the elderly? and You should be more worried about people that can't go see a doctor! and even accusing me of a lack of empathy for the poverty-stricken because I'm opposed to Obamacare.
I want to address first the fact that people don't have access to doctors. For the most part, everyone has access to medical services. In case of an emergency, no hospital will refuse to see you. For routine matters, lower income children have access to SCHIP; there is also Medicaid. For seniors, Medicare. I'm not saying all these are perfect plans and no one, not even Republicans on The Hill, are suggesting that some health care reform doesn't need to be achieved. But there is access.
The whole rush to reform health care "right now!" is partly based on the fallacy that 46 million people can't afford health insurance. This is not true. Some of those people choose to be uninsured; some are young and invincible and choose to spend the money on other things. Others are eligible for Medicaid and have never enrolled. Some of those 46 million are illegals. When you filter out those people, you get down to about 8 million who cannot afford health insurance.
This is the only place that liberal "lack of empathy" argument might hold water - I'm not sure we need to sacrifice the coverage the rest of the nation has for those 8 million. What about empathy for the rest of the nation? Talk about empathy, have empathy for the guy with the broken arm who has to wait 12 hours (if he's lucky) to have it set, or empathize with the child who needs an MRI but has to wait six months to get it. That's what health care is like in countries who have plans such as the one Obamacare will lead us to.
As far as mandatory counseling for the elderly - I stand by what I said yesterday. That's way too much government involvement in one's personal medical decisions. The family and the patient and patient's doctor should make those decisions. Period.
I have an 84 year old mother who I can guarantee you would NOT be enthusiastic about talking about her personal medical decisions to some Obamacare "representative".
Even if that mandatory counseling comes down to being administered by your own personal physician, it's still government interference. If a patient feels the need for those services, make them available, but not mandatory.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has a piece in today's Wall Street Journal on how to make this health care reform bi-partisan which is the only way it will succeed. In it he refers to health care as a "basic human need" which is the correct terminology. Health care is not a "right" and not something that must be funded and provided by the government. Obamacare would fare better if it would drop the public option and concentrate on the actual reform measures.
Jindal also points out that Obama would fare better if he would speak honestly to the American people about the measures in the bill rather than with falsehoods, such as "you will be able to keep your coverage." That's a lie, as I wrote yesterday.
It's not accurate to accuse those who stand up against Obamacare as lacking empathy; there are plenty of other reasons to stand up against it. Obama said yesterday that those who were blocking his plans were only trying to score political points, or playing the politics of the moment. Those claims and the lack of empathy claims ring of desperation to me. The plan as it is written is going down in flames and those who want health care reform would do well to slow down and regroup.