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Cal Thomas: Health care ‘reform’ alarming

Assuming a rock-solid 40 Republicans stand against the health care reform bill now being debated in the Senate, it will take just one Democrat or independent to derail this monstrosity, which along with its House companion may be the most disastrous piece of legislation ever to be this close to enactment by Congress.

So many lies have been told about the Senate and House bills that correcting them all might take more pages than the 2,000-plus pages that make the Senate version. Most people haven’t read them, but those who have are sounding the alarm. Dr. Stephen E. Fraser, of Indianapolis, wrote a letter expressing his objections to the House bill to Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat.

Fraser’s critique reads like an indictment for violating many constitutional principles, including invasion of privacy and the power of life and death without due process that under other circumstances would raise the hackles of the ACLU. Even though the Senate bill has differences from the House measure, both bills have much in common and in conference the hard left in the House will push for the adoption of most of their measures.

Among the outrages cited by Fraser about the House bill are these: “A government committee will decide what treatments/benefits you get (p. 123); The Health Choices commissioner will choose your health care benefits for you … you will have no choice (p. 42); health care will be provided to all non-U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise (p. 50, section 152); government will have real-time access to individuals’ finances and a ‘National ID Health card’ will be issued. (p. 58).”

There’s more, unfortunately. The government will specify benefit levels for plans. That means “rationing of health care” (p.85, line 7); “government will mandate linguistic appropriate services … translation: illegal aliens (p. 91, lines 4-7); the government will use groups (i.e. ACORN & AmeriCorps) to sign up individuals for the government health care plan (p. 95, lines 8-18).”

Fraser has dozens of other examples of government taking over the most personal and intimate decisions any family or individual can make, including “end of life” and even marriage counseling.

All of this adds up to the federal government deciding your worth and whether it will pay for surgery or medication based on whether you cost more than you contribute to the government.

On page 429, lines 13 to 25, there is a provision that allows government to “specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order.” One can imagine a knock at the door and the doctor making the house call is named Jack Kevorkian.

Is this alarmist? Is this the ranting of the uncaring far right that wants to maintain the unhealthy status quo? No, it is a warning that health care in America is poised to become like England’s National Health Service. According to a report released in August by Britain’s Patients Association and highlighted in London’s Daily Telegraph, “1 million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain.”

The Patients Association claims that over the past six years hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with “neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel” treatment.

The charity described a horrifying number of incidents involving the elderly who were left in pain, in soiled clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly canceled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.

Voting against the Senate bill (and thus effectively killing the House bill) demands something we don’t see much of in Washington these days: courage and conviction. Without courage and conviction by one or more Democratic senators, we will inevitably become like the NHS where, according to the Patients Association report, “patients are more likely to go hungry than prisoners” and the standard of care in some wards would “shame a third world country.”

There are more preferable plans than the Senate and House bills. They would preserve our high-quality health care while fixing what is wrong.

The Senate bill must be defeated so those other plans can be seriously considered. If they aren’t, we will come to regret the haste with which the Senate (and House) plans are being rushed through.

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


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