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March 02, 2009

More Demonizing

You have to love the lefto-sphere. This is exactly the mind set Obama is feeding with the constant "us vs. them" rhetoric (which completely contradicts his do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do yammering about unity and rejecting stale, divisive partisanship). Sadly Lame dishonestly summarizes a VDH column about the rising costs of health care:

The best way to manage increasing health care costs is simply to stop treating old people completely because no matter what you do, sooner or later, they all die.

What did VDH actually say? Not that we should stop treating old people and let them die, but that when Obama complains about the (intolerably) high costs of health care, he's overlooking two things:

The cost of health care is spiraling out of control, and not just because the proverbial evil “they” (fill in the blank: pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, medical corporations, trial lawyers, etc.) charge too much. Such profit-mongering entities may well gouge us, owing to a lack of competition, fear of lawsuits, or government mandates and interference. Yet the larger culprit is, of course, we the people. The cost of our health care is soaring because, to be frank, that health care is usually very good, and it does things routinely that almost no one else in the world contemplates — such as providing 83-year-olds with heart-valve replacements, 78-year-olds with hip and knee replacements, and those who drink, smoke, and are chronically obese with drugs and weekly doctor visits.

Saying we're getting a good return on investment for rising health care costs (with good reason) is a far cry from saying we should let old people die.

The friend who sent that to me (a Democrat who voted for Obama, by the way) had this to say about that comedy clip I posted earlier today:

People have completely lost touch with reality in our society — and we’re exporting that point of view around the globe, since it exists now all over the first world.

I loved his Conan interview and his rant about the way people complain about the experience of taking flights here or there...how we are furious if the on-board internet service is not working or if we have to circle and airport waiting to land and then end up late. “You’re flying in a chair in the air!,” he finally bursts out. It’s just great stuff. And TRUE.

She's right. And that's why we can talk, though we disagree about the ultimate conclusions a lot of the time: our basic values aren't that far apart and neither of us (though we're both passionate about what we believe) is so wedded to a political party that we won't entertain a point of view that pokes fun at human foibles which know no party affiliation. Of course, I'm not perfect. I get my Hanes Ultrasheers in a wad on a regular basis. But I can admit when someone of the opposing party makes a good point:

If we wish to get health-care costs under control, then we should at least be honest with the American people and admit that we are all paying a collective fortune largely for three reasons: (1) to keep functioning into their 60s those who drank, smoked, and ate too much and in a past era would have passed on at 60; (2) to give us all an extra three to five years of mobility and functionality after we reach 75; (3) to fit us up with IVs, feeding tubes, and respirators so that in our last six months of life we can die in a rest home or among machines and specialists in a hospital rather than in our own home with a few morphine tablets for pain and a bowl of soup with a straw on the nightstand.

...Again, health care is expensive because Americans, with some good reason, have decided that the ancient tragic view — we all age and break down, and pay for the sins of our 20s and 30s in our 50s and 60s — can at last be replaced by the therapeutic promise of vigor and health into our 80s.

What could be done? President Obama could try some honesty. Thus he might say, “We are spending hundreds of billions to keep us healthy, vital, and alive in ways unimaginable a few years ago. To keep our part of the bargain, we must then encourage the aging to remain active and working — and delay retirement. If we are living to 80 rather than 65, then surely we can start receiving Social Security benefits at 67 rather than at 62. What we save in postponed payouts can go to the greater cost of keeping us alive to 80.”

IOW, there's no free lunch. Every choice we make involves tradeoffs.

My grandparents were all dead by the time they were 65. My Dad will be 80 this year and is in excellent health. My Mom is 77.

As a little girl I recall watching one Granddad die of cancer at home and the other struggle with massive strokes that made him shake with frustration when the former research chemist couldn't even perform basic tasks like lifting a spoon to his own lips. Or simply making himself understood when his Grandaughter visited.

My Grandparents were mostly dead by the time I was 5. My parents spoke at my youngest son's wedding and now have a great-Grandson.

Is health care expensive?

Damned straight. And it's worth every precious day I get with my loved ones.

Posted by Cassandra at March 2, 2009 08:01 PM

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Comments

"IOW, there's no free lunch. Every choice we make involves tradeoffs."
Game, set, match!

This gentleman has a couple of ideas on the question of health care that I find to be sensible.

BTW, does anyone think that,

”The best way to manage increasing health care costs is simply to stop treating old people completely because no matter what you do, sooner or later, they all die.”
will not be the norm when nameless, faceless bureaucrats within the Gub'ment are given the power to decide what treatments will be provided and under what circumstances? And finally, which persons meet the mandated Federal criterion for the care in question? Just think Zero Tolerance coupled with an exploding debt burden and ever more taxation and then try to convince me otherwise.

Posted by: bt_Soylent-Green_hun at March 3, 2009 07:41 AM

The thing is that we're most definitely looking at health care cuts for the elderly in the next few years. We're at simply unsustainable levels and the Baby Boomers have not really hit the level of necessary nursing yet.

We've been dealing with my MIL and her issues for the past several years as she steadily descends into dementia. Both the laws governing care of people whose bodies have (and in my MIL's case it's completely artificially) outlived their minds and the money it costs to care for someone in such a situation are crazy. By "crazy", I do not mean we should be resorting to putting the elderly on an ice floe (although believe me, the thought has crossed my mind with my MIL, who has never been what one would call a "kind" or "productive" member of society), I simply mean that the costs are staggering and the legalities are completely tangled and out of date and impossible.

Families need to step up, but the problem is that as the first generation to promote smaller families, we'll find that an awful lot of elderly do not have people who can take care of them. Which leaves it to society.

Which means that you take my MIL's nursing facility bill of 6,000$ monthly (plus her medical expenses which came in at nearly half a million for a heart valve replacement)and hand them off to the taxpayers.

Or, you come up with guidelines for denial of procedures to people. But as much as I'm ready for my MIL to move on to the next step, I would NEVER wish that on ANY family.

The trade-offs our society will have to make, though... I don't think most people understand just what is awaiting us here.

Posted by: airforcewife at March 3, 2009 08:00 AM

To keep our part of the bargain, we must then encourage the aging to remain active and working — and delay retirement.

Doin' my bit to help -- although simple economics was the only encouragement I needed.

And finally, which persons meet the mandated Federal criterion for the care in question?

Congresscritters may wind up being the most long-lived of Americans, in that case. Congress exempts itself from most of the onerosity it inflicts on us hoi-polloi (for our own good, natch) and usually manages to give itself a hefty salary increase to assuage its collective conscience when its actions force Others to bite the financial bullet...

Posted by: BillT at March 3, 2009 08:01 AM

I should also add that in the same time that my MIL has been needing full time nursing care, my Grandfather (who died at 93) got sick, spent one year being cared for by our family at home, then died after a week in the hospital and being transported home.

In the last year or so he also struggled with dementia, triggered by oxygen issues during surgery to replace his hip.

In any case, the tax burden for Pop wasn't anywhere near as bad as the taxpayer burden for my MIL because we were able to care for him at home. His personality was such that the tangled legalities and more distasteful things that come along with home-care were possible.

This, I believe, is the best case scenario. It is also not the most common scenario I have found as I have dealt with elder care lawyers, social workers, and other nursing facility personnel.

Posted by: airforcewife at March 3, 2009 08:04 AM

I find that most people I know don't complain about the cost of health care, itself, but the fact that their insurance doesn't pay for EVERYTHING. Then they kvetch about the high cost of their insurance. They just want someone else to pay the cost. Hmmm, does this sound familiar?

Posted by: Leslie at March 3, 2009 08:18 AM

"To keep our part of the bargain, we must then encourage the aging to remain active and working — and delay retirement.

Doin' my bit to help -- although simple economics was the only encouragement I needed."

I'm with ya there Bill. Given my druthers, I'd prefer to bop till I drop having experienced the alternative up close and personal. All I need is a cross-terrain Segway. One with 33" mudders for a little over the river and through the woods mobility. =8^}
Congresscritters may wind up being the most long-lived of Americans, in that case. Congress exempts itself from most of the onerosity it inflicts on us hoi-polloi (for our own good, natch) and usually manages to give itself a hefty salary increase to assuage its collective conscience when its actions force Others to bite the financial bullet..."
I was on the cusp of tossing words to that effect into my initial comment, but I've been struggling to contain my inner Neanderthal and the resulting rants that slip out since, oh, maybe this past November.

Posted by: bt_Soylent-Green_hun at March 3, 2009 08:29 AM

...I've been struggling to contain my inner Neanderthal...

*sigh*

You're further up the hill than I am.

I'm still trying to stuff Pithecanthropus back behind my gall bladder...

Posted by: BillT at March 3, 2009 08:47 AM

My fortune 100 company convinced me to retire early (60) because the new-hires were paid far less than I. They schlepped me off to the railroad retirement system, COBRA, and the tax deductible, for them, costs of continuing medical coverage until elegible for Medicare. I pay $4000 a year for coverage I barely use. My employer continues paying their share until medicare.

The point being, I am charged for well-patient doctor visits. Insurance will only cover diagnosed illnesses and certain prescribed treatments. Fortunately my wife and I are healthy. The question regarding where our approximately #10,000 a year in medical coverage we don't use goes is easily answered. It goes to the smokers, drinkers, obese, exercise intolerant, abortion clinics, homeless, illegals, those who choose to not carry coverage because of their young age, octomom, and last, but not least, those who cannot afford the cost until an emergency hits.

Welcome to the world of socialism. I am caught in the Catch 22 situation of too old and high paid to work and actuarily too young to die. My quality of life will depend(s) on some faceless bureaucrat in the bowels of some institution who will decide my fate like Caesar giving the thumbs up or down, usually down, to me the erstwhile gladiator feeling the cold breath of death on the back of my neck awaiting the decision with breathless anticipation. The lion is standing next to me gazing upward with a toothpick in his/her mouth.

I am not feeling the love or the respect of those in charge of the Soylent Green conveyor belt.

Posted by: vet66 at March 3, 2009 10:11 AM

And meanwhile, back at the ranch, the the First Lady shares her proven methods with I One! for providing quality health care for the masses. Well, sort of, kind of, eventually, elsewhere...

Hmmm, I wonder. Does this private insurance coverage make my health issues look big?

Posted by: bt_Soylent-Green_hun at March 3, 2009 10:18 AM

Whoops! Was that demonic of me to draw attention to MichelleCare?

Posted by: bt_Soylent-Green_hun at March 3, 2009 10:27 AM

Imus was discussing Rush and the Michael Steele Apology this morning with Mary Matalin and Imus made a good point President Obama, he doesn't know what to do about Iraq or Afghanistan. I agree, especially after I read about the letter he sent the Russians.

http://youhavetobethistalltogoonthisride.blogspot.com/2009/03/imus-mary-matalin-discuss-republican.html

If you get the chance check my blog roll for Cinie's World she is an outstanding blogger. She is like a laser in regards to what the Obama Administration is doing, including focusing on Rush Limbaugh. Villainous Company is already in my blog roll.

My husband is an Army Veteran 27 years in the Army. His brother is a Col in the Army still on active duty. I am paying close attention to the decisions being made about Iraq & Afghanistan my brother in law, has been to both. I was listening to Col Jack Jacobs (Ret) he brought up the 17,000 new troops for Afghanistan. What is their Mission what are they for? I have heard it is to bolster Afghan's confidence in us? Really, isn't that the State Department's Job...where is Madame Secretary? Shouldn't she be getting her burqua packed? Col Jacobs is on my blog roll also. Adding 17,000 troops without clear cut goals and a mission, leaves us open to mission creep...even non military people can understand this.

Posted by: Ree at March 3, 2009 10:48 AM

I got my graduate degree at a medical school. I worked for > 12 years for Baxter Healthcare Corporation (intravaneous solutions, artificial kidneys, etc., etc.). I have a short answer to this:

"The reason why health care costs so much these days is because we get a lot more of it."

A kid born 2 months premature these days will go home after costing, what, $500,000? Or more? 10 years ago that kid would have cost a few hundred, because it would have died. Quickly. And that write large and over and over is why healthcare costs go up.

Posted by: RonF at March 3, 2009 12:57 PM

"The reason why health care costs so much these days is because we get a lot more of it."
True dat!

As Leslie pointed out, there is also a disconnect between the patient('s wallet) and the doctor('s bill). Which I suspect, were it not so, might induce a more judicious use of medical resources, if not a change in lifestyle, on the part of the patient/consumer.

Then there is the litigious nature of the bid'ness of medicine resulting in elevated malpractice insurance premiums, over-wrought CYA diagnosis procedures and the time-sliced assembly line doctor-patient interaction required to cover the cost of doing bid'ness.

Nor will I mention the 800lb health care gorilla, that being IMO, the over-medicated piece of the puzzle.

Posted by: bt_soylent-green_hun at March 3, 2009 04:00 PM

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