It Can’t Happen Here — Right?

Back in the heady days of discussion over Obamacare (before it became the unmitigated success that we all now recognize), I remember arguing on numerous occasions that health care is not a right, but a commodity. There is a finite amount of it available at any moment (as opposed to the ability to think, speak, or worship), and something is going to act as a rationing mechanism, be it price, time, or government diktat. I prefer market-oriented solutions, as at least in theory, a dissatisfied patient/customer has the option of taking his business elsewhere. Harder to do with the Feds.

Folks on the other side of the argument were particularly outraged by one possible outcome — possibly because it was broached by Sarah Palin. Palin had the temerity to suggest that:

1) If the distribution of healthcare is a matter of life and death, and

2) If the government takes control of the distribution of same, then

3) At some point X, the government will decide who lives and dies.

She further had the gall to say that government agencies in that position would be “death panels”, a term that evoked a great deal of snickering from our intellectual and moral betters in the Ruling Class. Such snickering, of course, occurred despite the cautionary examples of Britain’s connection between the NHS and the Liverpool Care Pathway, and the euthanasia policies of the Netherlands (where refusal to prosecute doctors who euthanize patients acts as a sort of post facto death panel — “It’s OK; he needed killing.”).

As it turns out, our neighbors to the north are in on the game as well. At Slate, Adam Goldenberg explains that in Ontario, the final call on the provision or denial of health care goes not to the patient, the patient’s family (although they may be consulted — Hurrah!), or even necessarily the doctors. Ultimately, it can become the province (no pun intended) of the Consent and Capacity Board. The board is made up, we’re told, of “experts and wise community members.” (Apparently “Top men. Top. Men.” is too sexist.) Why do Ontarians find such a board necessary? Goldenberg replies:

In Canada, with our single-payer health care system, [a patient’s end-of-life] situation has a very public bottom line: Should taxpayers foot the bill for his family’s indefinite goodbye?

See? It’s not euthanasia — it’s responsible stewardship of the public fisc.

Yes, Palin’s argument is a slippery slope, and you may argue that things would never reach that point here in the States (an interesting sort of American exceptionalist argument, now that I think of it) — we’re not even single-payer.


A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to the ONT at Moron HQ.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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