In a telephone call to clergymen, also broadcast over the internet, Obama dismissed the concerns of opponents of his health agenda as “fabrications.” Dissenters were making up allegations about death panels, government funding of abortions, and a government takeover of medicine, he said, because they want to “discourage people from meeting…a core ethical and moral obligation…that we look out for one another…that I am my brother’s keeper” (Commentary by Star Parker 8/25/09).
“Forgive me if sermons about morality are a little hard to swallow from a man who supports partial birth abortion,” Parker writes.
She also notes that reform proposals would outlaw the voluntary Christian sharing communities through which 100,000 Americans take care of their own medical expenses, independently of government and insurance companies.
In contrast, government compelling taxpayer A to pay provider B for care of patient C is not the same thing as “looking out for one another.”
There are in fact core moral issues involved in “health care reform”: a radical change in the physician’s code of ethics. The New Ethics transforms the physician from a healer, who places his individual patient’s welfare first, to a tool of the state, sacrificing individuals for the good of the collective.
Rationer-in-chief Ezekiel Emanuel describes his ethics as “communitarian.” He blames the Oath of Hippocrates for the “overuse” of medical care, regardless of cost of the effect on others, and he favors the “complete lives” concept for allocating scarce resources. Those resources (including people’s earnings) are assumed to belong to the collective, to be appropriated and redistributed as the rulers think best.
The existence of “disparities” or of profits is taken as evidence of immorality. Disparities of concern are those based on “invidious” discrimination, as by race or gender. Allocation by age can be just and rational. See: Persad G, Wertheimer A, Emanuel EJ. Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions. (Lancet 2009;373:423-431).
Disparities have not been eliminated by nationalized health systems; quite the contrary. Thirty years into the British National Health Service (NHS), an official task force (the Black Report) found little evidence that access to care was any more equal than when the NHS began. Almost 20 years later, a second task force (the Acheson Report) found that access had become even less equal. There is also pervasive inequality in Canada, with differences in per capita spending as great as seven-fold between urban and rural areas ( John Goodman, Cato Policy Analysis 1/27/05).
One of the features of the NHS that has persuaded the British of its social justice is “the difficulty and unpleasantness it throws in the way of patients, rich and poor alike,” writes Theodore Dalrymple. “For equality has the connotation not only of justice but of hardship and suffering” (Wall St J 8/8/09).
Additionally, the differences in health between the rich and poor in Britain are not only among the greatest in the western world, but they are as great as they were in 1948, “when health care was de facto nationalized precisely to bring about equalization,” Dalrymple continues.
The whole population has been pauperized in the name of an inalienable right to health care—in the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe, writes Dalrymple in an earlier article (Wall St J 7/29/09).
“Morality is always the justification,” writes Mark Steyn. “Inaugurating Britain’s National Health Service on July 5th 1948, the Health Minister Nye Bevan crowed, ‘We now have the moral leadership of the world.’”
Roy Romanow, the Canadian politician who headed the most recent of numerous inquiries into problems with the Canadian system, defends the state’s monopoly on medical care by saying that “Canadians view medicare as a moral enterprise, not a business venture.” But Steyn asks, “What’s so moral about relieving the citizen of responsibility for his own health care?”
If the man who died of a ruptured appendix, after being turned away from a Quebec clinic for not having an insurance card (see Myth 17) had entered a business venture, they would’ve greet him with: “You’ve got stomach pains? Boy, have we hit the jackpot! Let’s get you some big-ticket pills and sign you up for surgery!” Steyn suggests. “But because it’s a moral enterprise they sent him away with a flea in his ear.”
But if disparities cannot be eliminated, profit surely can be. Government has consistently succeeded, if profit elimination was its purpose.
- “Grandma: Meet Public Health Care”
- “The Medical Professionalism Project and Its Physician Charter: New Ethics for a Political Agenda,” by Jerome C. Arnett, Jr., M.D., Medical Sentinel, summer 2002.
- “Medical Reform and the Events Leading to the Holocaust: a Comparison,” presented by Anna Scherzer, M.D., AAPS annual meeting, 1993.
- “The Pervasive Duty to Rescue,” by Donald J. Kochan.