One of the more interesting aspects of this current uproar over the Obama administration’s “health care reform” has been the labeling. Take the phrase – “death panels.” Who brought that up. Oh, that crazy Sarah Palin. Sometimes you just have to wonder about her, doncha?
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Of course such a system is downright evil And on hearing this, the first system I thought of that enforces such policies is the health insurance industry. I thought of a few outrageous examples: The movie The Rainmaker, Nataline Sarkisyan, and Ryan Stockdale.
First, let’s review a bit of what Sarah Palin had to say?
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.
Human rights and human dignity? Here’s at least two examples in which human dignity and by all means, human rights were, uh, thoroughly trampled that I promptly recalled.
First up, the case of Ryan Stockdale. Ryan is from Middleton. His four children all suffer from a rare medical condition wherein a few years ago Ty the TV carpenter and his crew built a home that would accommodate the necessary medical (sterile) environment for the children. There was a point where Ryan began suffering from cluster headaches with excruciating pain. The family was on COBRA, making every attempt to have the cost of a procedure that might provide relief covered by the insurer.
MS Administrative Services Inc., the company that runs Omnipure’s insurance plan, has denied the Stockdales’ request four times as “experimental/investigational.” That means it lacks the studies and other proof needed to show it works. The latest request marks the first time Omnipure itself will make a decision.
And here that classification of “experimental/investigational” – is a classic means in maintaining of human dignity. As a result of the refusal of MS Administrative Services to cover the surgery, a couple of local radio stations began fundraising. As it turned out, “Treasure Valley residents donated more than $80,000 for Ryan Stockdale’s surgery after his health insurer said it could not pay for the experimental procedure.”
The surgery was performed in San Francisco; Ryan is home and doing better. He is, undoubtedly, very fortunate.
Now – Nataline Sarkisyan.
Here we have what could be considered an ‘above and beyond classification’ in maintaining human dignity with the additional assurance it’s all for the sake of “our members” and we’ve done more than we were required.
Nataline was a 17 year-old who had leukemia and in need of a liver transplant. Such a liver became available with physicians at the ready to operate. The procedure was denied. There was tremendous outcry and by the time the insurance company, Cigna, relented – Nataline died.
“In this case, rather than going through our standard method of appeal, we went directly to not one, but two independent experts in the field who agreed that the procedure in question, given the patient’s particular circumstances, would not have been an effective or appropriate treatment,” the pair wrote in the memo.
Cordani and Kang insisted that the company’s commitment “is to assure that our members receive the highest quality health care.“
As Dr. Giuseppe Del Priore wrote in the L.A. Times, January 3, 2008 not long after Nataline’s death:
Cigna HealthCare’s refusal to cover leukemia patient Nataline Sarkisyan’s liver transplant until it was too late is out of the insurance playbook. My patients suffer similar fates every day.
As an interesting aside, Wendell Potter (the health industry whistle-blower), recently on with Bill Moyers as well as few other programs, was a senior executive with Cigna at the time of Cigna’s refusal to cover Nataline’s liver transplant.
Salon has more on tying in the so-called ‘death panels’ to those who truly relegate such “panels” – the health industry.
The Rainmaker: The movie’s plot line is somewhat similar to Nataline’s case above.
Witness (reading): Great Benefit, July 7, 1996. Re: 7849909886.
Dear Mrs. Black.
On seven prior occasions this company has denied your claim in writing. We now deny it for the eighth and final time. You must be stupid stupid stupid.
Evert Luftkin, Vice President, Claims Department.
As I watch news clips on cable news TV, MSNBC shows, Democracy Now!, I’m simply appalled at the deliberate ignorance of those who are attending these town hall meetings with the intent of nothing short of disruption. Those “most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors” Sarah Palin hold up are some of the same seniors receiving Medicare and yet are adamant they will in NO WAY live under socialism. No ‘Big Gov’t’ in their lives, thank you very much.
What has happened to the so-called ‘Greatest Generation?’ Are there really some of them out there so very ignorant or stupid enough (or both), who really don’t know that Medicare is administered by the Dept of Health & Human Services – a federal agency – with Kathleen Sibelius as Secretary? Do they seriously NOT know that the Medicare program is a FEDERAL program?
This is going to be a wearisome and long August and my patience is truly skidding across thin ice.