Friday, May 1, 2009

President Obama admitted he wants the government to decide what health care Americans receive. “There’s always going to be an asymmetry of information between patient and provider,” he said. “And part of what I think government can do effectively is to be an honest broker in assessing and evaluating treatment options.”

Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. President. Our health is not a commodity to be brokered. Even if not all doctors boast perfect bedside manners, Americans still trust their judgment, their medical training and their ability to interact directly with individual patients in clinical settings far more than they trust government statisticians matching approved treatments to reported illnesses based on lifeless charts.

In an interview published by the New York Times on Tuesday, Mr. Obama continued by saying the need for honest brokers “certainly [is] true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, where the taxpayers are footing the bill and we have an obligation to get those costs under control.” Some would say that is exactly the problem with government-run health care: Considerations of cost come before care, and sometimes rules before reason.

It’s a scary picture the president paints. He stated that “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.” For them, he said, “I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels.”

The time to really worry about your health is when a government bureaucrat, not your personal doctor, tells you what treatment you can have. Yet that’s exactly the scenario endorsed by Mr. Obama. This position clearly leads to health care rationing. Nobody in the government or in any “political channels” should tell individuals how to make decisions about “the end of their lives.” The only conversations happening should be personal, not democratic. It’s not up to government to pull the plug.

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