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Times Are Tough. Seniors Must Pay.

May 14, 2009

E.J. Manning

sick and elderlyYou’ve probably heard all about the Medicare panic that resurfaces every few years. Finally, government has quickly slipped in a measure to better control health care measures. President Obama and our lawmakers, under the cover of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted law that, among other things, fundamentally changes America’s health care system.

Interestingly, these health care changes have little to do with the sworn purpose of the Recovery Act, which was to help solve America’s current financial crisis. By burying health care changes in the Recovery Act and by fast-tracking the legislation to President Obama’s desk for a signature, lawmakers were able to sidestep the public outcry which derailed President Clinton’s failed effort in 1994 to increase federal control over health care. America wanted change and now we have it.

sick and elderly 2Previously, Medicare was bound to pay for medical care that is considered safe and effective based on set standards. The Recovery Act changes this reality and imposes a cost effectiveness standard set by a new bureaucracy, the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Is the idea of change in health care just fear-mongering, a slippery slope or something else? Tom Daschle, now in the wings and out of the running for cabinet posting reflects what is likely the current attitude towards the value of Americans and life itself outside the personal sphere of Congress. “Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.” If that were the case, Teddy Kennedy would probably already be entombed.

euthanasia soylent green styleWhile Daschle’s statement is not an open policy promoting euthanasia ‘a la Soylent Green’, a strictly utilitarian view of life in a nation that has been so prosperous on the backs of the American workforce that is now retired is reprehensible. Continually rewriting the rules that America must live by for the advantage of a few is little better. Somehow, 12 per cent of the American population is now breaking the nation’s back. Never mind that as of this year, 54 per cent of working America is paying for everyone else, including the burgeoning government debt that lawmakers are ringing up. Seniors are easy fodder and easy to silence.

According to the philosophy of utilitarianism, human beings are to be looked at in terms of how useful they are to society. Youth is valued and seen as useful, productive and pliable, while the old and terminally ill are marginalized. The basic qualities of health care changes in the Recovery Act clearly favor the young and healthy over the old and less healthy. The national politic has descended into a giant flesh factory of political and social convenience.

medicare asteroidGovernment has known about the bankruptcy deal breaker of Medicare for decades. Like the banking debacle, the federal government acknowledges the tragedy and continues to massage figures and statistics without detailing any kind of reasonable approach. Medicare bankruptcy is simply an asteroid on a collision course with the nation because good health care is deemed to be the best that the world has to offer. Could the Democrats be onto something this time? One might reach that conclusion IF evidence showed that our national government cared anything about a budget whatever. Clearly that isn’t the case.

Escalating health care costs have prompted a variety of results in Europe, including health care rationing in England and legalization of euthanasia in other nations. The elderly are being singled out. In the case of America, a new bureaucracy has been given broad and vague enforcement powers to insure that doctors comply with the new federal cost containment controls, whatever those might be. America now has its own health care slippery slope and the beginnings of a new world of governmental control.

Cost containment through Medicare is commendable, but focusing on 12 per cent of the population is hardly the breaking point for national health care. A 21 percent portion of the national population known as the disabled remain verbally unscathed by politics, yet are certainly due to be impacted by changes in Medicare. Old folks are the focus. Undoubtedly, the nation could save millions by denying oxygen to those that have smoked themselves into a personal health care crisis. Perhaps we should. Who is going to make the choice? Now, we have a yet another government agency that must be funded that will eventually make those choices for us without apology.

The federal government cares about health care because they are living by old rules and are making the payments on old policies and human expectations of a prosperous nation. Perhaps we are no longer that nation.  Still, the government has made itself the financial guarantor for the health of millions of ‘spoiled pampered Americans’ with the idea of securing some voting power. Government isn’t entirely comfortable with the reality it faces today. Like everyone else, we like bringing home the bacon, but don’t always want to pay the bills. We want to ignore the little white legal statements that come with the bills. Americans are expected to live by those white slips of paper. When government is inconvenienced, it just changes the law.

The reality is that government lawmakers and administrators are no different than other human beings, but the government has a distinct advantage. The government holds the cards. For example, the government already tells corporate health care how much it will pay for services for the elderly and disabled, so what is the problem with the system? Simply put: ineffective government administration and the unbridled lust for power. ~ E. Manning

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