Topic category: Healthy Living & Health Care Issues
Dead People Walking...
After reading Bob’s Article, and viewing the included videos several times, I realized that we all may be "Dead People Walking" if this criminal act is allowed to stand.
The salient points of one of the videos reduce to the bulleted points below. I realize that the health care bill is incredibly large, not well written and contains thousands of inaccuracies and faulty budgetary and health care projections. My goal here is not to enumerate every one of those but to “cherry pick” a few of the most onerous. I do this to make a point. To wit:• Health care will be rationed. Single folks limited to $5000, and couples to $10,000.
• A government committee will determine levels of care – not your physician.
• A Health Care Commissioner chooses the appropriate health care option.
• A Health Care Exchange will be established and will be government controlled.
• Should anyone choose not to enroll in a health care plan, he or she will be taxed an additional 2.5%.
• The government health care minions will have access to all personal health care and financial records. [Illegal search and seizure anyone?]
• All care will be rationed, especially in those areas that are expensive to treat, i.e. cancer.
• All health care provided will be subjected to outcome measures that are defined by the government, not your doctor.
• Special needs patients will receive government determined care, for government determined periods.
• The elderly and the poor will be subjected to a Tele-Health care committee examination of their needs, and the committee will determine same.
• End of life services will be government controlled.
• Living wills and directives shall be approved by the government.
These are but a few of the problems identified in Bob’s article. Even though the above list paraphrases them egregiously, they are still pretty accurate as well as frightening. What can be done? I have pondered much that has been written and proposed by politicians opposed to ObamaCare, by elected Tea Party Candidates, and by Republican leaders. Given my age and my experience with politicians, I am not terribly sanguine about major changes, nor am I comfortable that the (new) leadership will have the intestinal fortitude to rescind the law.
If most of the tenets of this law are upheld, we – the people – are all either now, or in the near future, Dead People Walking. What do I mean by that? Before getting into that lets take a brief look at some readily available statistics about health care in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The data provide a bit of context without becoming a treatise on statistics, and statistical analysis. As with all statistics, there is generally more to the story than the numbers and even those are often contested. For example, the three illustrations from Investor’s Business Daily data below are considered meaningless by some, but not others. These data are not terribly different from similar data from other sources. The difficulty in comparing such data is that the study years, the population, the analytical methods and the political implications are usually not known. That in itself is instructive, but a topic for another day.
Source: Investor’s Business DailyPercentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis: U.S - 65%; England - 46%; Canada- 42%
Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months: U.S.- 90% ; England - 15%; Canada - 43%
Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months: U.S. - 93%; England - 15%; Canada - 43%
Lancet Oncology – a much respected Journal, offers this analysis when comparing Cancer survival rates in Europe and the United States. [Ardunio Verdecchia et al,”Recent Cancer Survival in Europe, 2000-2002 Period, Analysis of EUROCARE-2 Data” Lancet Oncology, 2007]
This analysis demonstrated that American men enjoy five year cancer survival rates of 66% and woman survive at a 63% rate. European Men’s survival rate is 47%. Only women of three countries - Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland enjoy a five year survival rate of 60%. Great Britain, known for its 50-year-old government-run, universal health care system, fares worse than the European average: British men have a five-year survival rate of only 45 percent; women, only 53 percent.
Canadian men and women fare a bit better with 58% of women surviving cancer by 5 years. The men’s survival rate is 53%. [These data are from a 2001-2003 study by June and David O’Neill of the USA Congressional Budget Office.]
The National Center for Policy Analysis [http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba649] in an article entitled “10 Surprising Facts about American Health Care” offers the following as one of the 10 indicated points:Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.
I could provide more statistics, more studies and more opinions, but will not. We could analyze the methodology, vis-à-vis how these data were gathered, and examined, the conclusions vis-à-vis outcomes, cost to benefit analyses and other conclusions about various care systems. That may be an interesting and enjoyable exercise, but is beyond the scope of this article. We would be Dead People Walking if ObamaCare is implemented not because statistically we would most likely slide into the mediocrity of our Canadian and European cousins, but because we would forfeit our freedom of choice, our privacy, our independence and our health to an overarching bureaucracy. Imagine these same people providing health care services to three hundred million American citizens as well as millions of illegals. England with a population of 51 million, and Canada with a population of 34 million are unable to manage their systems, and provide the equivalent of our health care services. We believe that health care in the United States should be improved, and made more efficient, and less costly. We need to work on that, but not at the price of our freedoms, and our sanity.
ObamaCare may be the full employment act for an entire new cadre of government bureaucrats who will determine how our care is rationed. It will not be a good thing for American patients needing a physician. A recent Survey by the AMA (American Medical Association) indicated that as many as 46% of all practicing physicians will leave the medical field if ObamaCare is implemented. Given the estimated 32 million new patients that ObamaCare shall allegedly attract, who will treat them? In fact, if physicians, and most likely other medical professionals, leave the field, who would treat the existing patient load, let alone 32 million new patients? Where will these patients be treated? Emergency rooms, hospitals and medical clinics will be overrun with patients who need treatment by a physician, not a non-medically trained government employee.
A rejoinder may be that the government will hire as many physicians and health professionals as necessary to provide care. Many professionals including doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, etc. will simply not want to work in a rule bound, over regulated health care system where efficient and effective patient care, as determined by the attending professional, is the exception rather than the rule.
If we are not in control of our own destinies, and can no longer make personal decisions about our health care, our physicians, our health care plans, we have lost control over most of what is important to us – life. We are no more able to control how we care for ourselves than the proverbial fatted calves. We will, as we age, be Soylent Green material, and will be cast on the dung heap of those not worth the effort, or the funds necessary, to keep us alive. (Illegal immigrants excepted) If we are no more than a ratio of cost to age, and fail to meet whatever is determined to be in the appropriate cost to age benefit cohort – the one that dictates we are “OK to treat”, what are we? Dispensable, that’s what.
If we can come to terms with being Dispensable, we can then plan how we will live. Any reasonable person knows that we cannot stop aging, regardless of how we try to maintain good health and a positive approach to advancing years. (For those who are many years younger than me – you too will be old one day – God willing.)
Currently, how do we care for ourselves and try to maintain good health? We eat well, we exercise, and we stop smoking if we did. We drink moderately, and we take a fair share of vitamins and supplements. If we are diagnosed with a disease, we visit our health care providers, and we adhere to the treatment regimen that has been recommended. We drive carefully, we don’t do illegal drugs, and we stay away from places that are likely to impair our health.
If a healthy 73 year old breaks a hip, some high grade dull normal in Washington will divide the cost of care by the age, and decree that my care will be too expensive, and that the costs to care for an old person would be better spent on a teenager who broke a hip while drag racing. After all, he or she has a lot of taxpaying years ahead of him or her. A 73 year old has relatively few.
Prior to ObamaCare taking good care of oneself was reasonable. Now, given that some nameless bureaucrat will be suggesting – nay not suggesting but stipulating treatments, stipulating costs, stipulating medical venues, and then finally “approving” our living wills, why in hell should we bother to take care of ourselves? What would the point be? If we are to die at the hands of our government, why not live like there is no tomorrow?
So from now on, I will have bacon and eggs for breakfast each day, buy a Harley, drink more wine, eat more fat rich, and more flavorful salted foods, lie around the yard and soak up the cancer causing sun, buy a Porsche, and drive the way I really would like to drive, go on hunting trips that require a degree of risk, fly more, sail more and spend my money before the government gets it. Why not? As a Dead Person Walking, it does not matter anymore. In fact a quick death in an airline accident – while traveling to some exotic destination - would be far more enjoyable than being left to rot while a Washington bureaucrat decides what to do with me.
ObamaCare, with its Health Care Commissions and Health care Czars have given me permission to live life as if every day is the last, because if they have anything to do with it, it soon will be!
Jerry De Angelis
Biography - Jerry De Angelis
B.S. Degree: Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut - MAGNA CUM LAUDA
Ph.D. Degree: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa,National Institute of Health Fellow: Major,
Winemaker & Co-Owner - De Angelis Wines.
Responsible for winemaking, marketing, and organization along with my partner - my wife.
Winemaker and General Manager
The Crush @ Paso Robles, Paso Robles, CA. Responsible for overall design of winery, winemaking budgets, planning and overall organization.
Senior Winemaker Salisbury Vineyards
I was responsible for all winemaking activities. This included developing the winery sites, identifying and purchasing all supplies and equipment, as well as assistance in all financial and budgetary aspects of the winery.
Viticulturist and Winemaker - La Fattoria De Angelis
Planted the vineyard in 1999 and have maintained it ever since. The first wine from the vineyard was produced in 2002.
Health Care Delivery Services, Inc. (HCDS) San Luis Obispo, California
President, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board
As chief executive, I was responsible for all corporate activities, policies and procedures relative to total administration of this health care corporation.
Other positions held in my career include:
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Westwood, California
Project Director - UCLA Drug Treatment Project - Faculty Member
Department of Psychiatry - Neuropsychiatric Institute
The White House: Executive Office of the President,Washington, D.C.
The White Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP)
Associate Director, Technical Assistance then Director of Manpower Development