A distorted argument was made against Obamacare during its Congressional debate that somewhere in its voluminous pages were plans for the creation of death panels for the elderly. The argument went that if grandma is too sick or decrepit, then she should be written off by a triage process to control costs. The argument was bogus. There are no death panels. Besides, insurance companies regularly determine what health care they will or will not pay in their own efforts to control costs.
It is in that context that California Rep. David Dreier resurrected the concept of death panels without mentioning them directly. During the debate for the House of Representatives’ 33rd vote to repeal Obamacare, Dreier said:
“While I don’t think that someone who is diagnosed with a massive tumor should the next day be able to have millions and millions and millions of dollars of health care provided, I do believe there can be a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions.”
If someone comes down with a massive tumor, “millions and millions and millions of dollars” are not going to be spent the next day. It will take weeks, months or even years, depending on medicine’s ability to treat it and the survival of the patient. If $3 million has to be spent to save a life and bring someone back to full health, who is going to argue against that?
It is not the immediate medical attention given to grave illnesses that are the problem with soaring health costs. It is the lack of preventive medicine for people who do not have insurance. At that point, a tumor can be found before it becomes massive and expensive. The other extraordinary costs in health care are attempts to prolong life when someone only has a few months to live or is going to live for years in an invalid state with no recognition of the world.
A person’s will expressed through a medical directive, their family and doctor is the only death panel that should matter. If there is hope for recovery, spending millions should not be questioned. When a person is ready to die, Jack Kevorkian showed how it could be done with dignity.
No one but Dreier is seriously proposing that all major medical problems like a massive tumor should be viewed first with cost considerations instead of a person’s health. This is not reform. It is an argument to make health care more about dollars than keeping people alive.