Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almighty Obama, May I Live?

My grandma had a stroke the summer of 2006. The only thing that could save her was brain surgery, but she had no money, and her health care plan was Medicaid. The government did everything in their power to convince my dad to just let her die since the cost of the brain surgery would be high. My dad kept deferring to my grandma's living will which said my grandma wanted to be kept alive at all costs and no matter what quality of life any medical intervention would lead to. They did the brain surgery. If there had been any wiggle room in my grandma's will such as not wanting to live as a vegetable, the surgery would not have been done. It almost wasn't done as it was. The surgery saved my grandma and restored her to her previous health and brain function. She went on to live for 2.5 more years before she passed away. Was this expensive brain surgery worth the extra 2.5 years of life for my grandma? It certainly was for her and for her loved ones. But it wasn't worth it for Medicaid.

An expansion of Medicare and Medicaid into universal health care coverage promises to lead to these end of life decisions for everyone. The "death panels" you have heard about are simply what happened to my grandma being promised on everyone. If you are old and have severe medical problems, you would have to meet with government bureaucracy to discuss whether or not the price is worth the extra year or two of life the medical intervention will buy you. And the deeper our nation gets into debt, the more likely the answer will be that the medical intervention is not worth the cost to the government. And then this determination that your life is not worth the cost may begin to extend to the disabled, the chronically ill, and who knows who is next?

Obama has said that he is "God's partner(s) in matters of life and death". Do we really wish this of our government? Do we want to pay as a nation for abortion? To promote euthanasia and to pay for it? Do we want the government to tell us that they will not pay for another pregnancy and child because we have had enough? The real solution lies in my earlier post entitled "4 Health Care Solutions". Less government regulation of the current health insurance system would lead to more flexible and inexpensive health insurance options for all. For me, I would like to leave these matters up to God and the individual and keep the government out of it.

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