Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The cruel charade of centralized health care

Centralized health care is cruelty masquerading as compassion, with social divisiveness being the inevitable result. As Ramesh Ponnuru's analysis of Dahlia Lithwick's distorted account of yesterday's arguments before the Supreme Court illustrates, the blind defenders of centralization will grasp at whatever straw necessary to make government control of people's lives look like charity. If the Court exercises judicial sanity, however, the monstrosity that is Obamacare will be eliminated from the national conversation before it becomes a destructive issue in what promises already to be a volatile presidential campaign this fall.

We need only to look at the British National Health Service (NHS) to see the dark road ahead if the government is given the green light to continue consolidating its power in that area so broadly defined as "health care." Across the pond, there is a battle brewing between the obese and the elderly.
Even the most sentimental champions of the NHS recognise its dark side. Given that its Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson has demanded a £20 billion efficiency saving if the NHS is to survive, and that demographic changes mean millions more elderly people will rely on its services (and space), the NHS can only do one thing: ration.

If rationing is acceptable, though, scapegoating is not. And too much evidence points to the elderly being the scapegoats in the battle to save the NHS. As the Telegraph reports today, elderly patients are being denied the best cancer care. The figures are alarming: lack of treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year among the over-75s.

Men and women are dying prematurely each year because their diseases are diagnosed later and less likely to be operated on.

Already the elderly are short-changed when it comes to nurses' time. Nurses in hospitals plead to being too busy to look after their charges decently, and so elderly patients frequently suffer dehydration, malnutrition and a lack of hygiene.

This treatment is cruel and unfair: age comes to us all, and is not the result of lifestyle choices. There are plenty of conditions, though, that are the direct result of bad habits, poor diet, and the wrong choices. These conditions range from obesity and diabetes to smoking-related diseases like emphesema. If a 20-stone, 30-something woman comes into hospital with a bad diabetic attack, does she deserve to be at the front of the queue or the back? She has chosen to stuff her face with Mars bars and Coke, and is now suffering the consequences of her choice. She cannot claim ignorance of the dangers of her diet: the Government has carpet-bombed us with health advice, from schools to GP practices. 
Class no longer regulates access to healthy living: everyone who can watch the telly, let alone read the magazines, knows that a high-fat diet will make you look bad and feel worse.

Does the obese 30-something lay claim to NHS services and a hospital bed when this means thousands of others will have to do without?

The septuagenarian who develops breast cancer has done nothing wrong – except grow old. The NHS has to consider that there are deserving cases and undeserving ones. Age should not be a barrier to optimum care; but bad habits should be.
It should come as no surprise that, in a government-run health system, the elderly are the ones most often neglected. The problem for the Brits, however, is that the debate is shifting away from who is neglected to who should be neglected when services have to be rationed. This is dangerous ground, warns Wesley J. Smith.
Here’s the moral of the story: Centralized health care turns us, snarling, against each other, grabbing for our own piece of the carcass, ready to exclude others to feed ourselves. As in this terribly uncharitable rant, it breeds hate and disdain for anyone who can be identified as the “other” supposedly taking more than their due. Take heed!
The cruelest irony of the cruel charade of centralized "health care" is that it both treats human beings as less than human and inevitably forces them to behave in like manner.