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Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

My article in today’s HeadlineBistro.

The recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has triggered alarm among various quarters for his self-professed admiration of health care rationing as seen in other countries such as Britain’s National Health Service. The issue here moves well past the politics and begs the question: How have we as a society become so deadened to the value of human life, that in our abundance of wealth and blessing from God we could seriously entertain the word “rationing” as applied to health care for our elders, for the poorest among us?

This move is a game-changer on so very many levels. Juxtaposed with the almost weekly reports of breakthroughs in cancer therapy, treatment of chronic conditions and adult stem cell therapies, this is not only an odd moment for considering rationing health care, but a dire threat to the advancement of science. A society that commits itself to death as a solution to its self-inflicted financial wounds cannot long endure as a pioneer of extending and improving the quality of life through research in the biomedical sciences; not when the government that funds such research is busy eliminating the need for it.

So how did we get here?

Twenty years ago when I was studying and working as a psychiatric research assistant at Columbia University, I was invited by one of the faculty to attend a talk being given by a medical economist. The topic was the new system of managed care and HMOs. In this talk, the economist made a very prescient observation that I took as a harbinger. He said that increased access to high quality health care does not make for a healthier population. It creates a larger, more chronically ill population of people who will exceed the lifespan dictated by their illness by twenty to thirty years.

Consider those who undergo coronary bypass surgery, who have pacemakers, treatments for cardiac dysrhythmias, diabetes, HIV, hypertension, vascular disease, COPD, cancer, etc. Advances in medical treatments and access to those treatments produces a population who live decades longer, mostly by taking medications daily. The longer we live, the greater the likelihood of new conditions arising needing surgical and medical interventions. All of this costs money.

The economist went further. Are we prepared to extend social security benefits to an ever-burgeoning population of retirees? Can the civil servant pension systems cope with people who retire after twenty years in their early forties and collect pensions well into their eighties and nineties? What do we expect from managed care?

Two decades later we are now being forced to address these questions. It seems that death is being proffered as the solution. Ridding ourselves of the elderly not only saves Medicare dollars, but also saves social security dollars as well as civil servant pension payouts. Cutting Medicaid services also saves on welfare and related money. Such solutions to vexing financial difficulties requires little intellect and even less heart and soul.

Death is cheap and easy.

The coarsening that has led us down this path began with the sexual revolution and legalization of abortion. Mother Teresa of Calcutta cut straight to the heart of the issue when she stated that it is a poverty that a child must die so that we may live as we wish. That has been the great selling point of abortion, that babies are an economic encumbrance that will hold us back from being and doing all that we wish to be and do.

The coarsening continued to unfold with the “Death with Dignity” movement, which really appeals to the same obsessive need for radical control and moral autonomy that has gripped us ever tighter during the past five decades of the sexual revolution. Now we have a political appointee whose duties could foreseeably include saving the nation money by institutionalizing a system of treatment refusals that make the worst of the HMOs pale in comparison.

In Immunology, the process of opsonization – the marking of a pathogen for destruction – has its etymology in the Greek word meaning “to mark for death.”

We opsonize the unborn, the poor, the elderly. With the steady rise in autism diagnoses, which are breaking the backs of school districts across the country (one out of every 110 children), will we return to eugenic sterilization that is still Constitutional Law, enshrined in the 1927 Buck v. Bell decision?

We cannot absolve ourselves of culpability in this trajectory toward the Culture of Death. Pope Paul VI warned us of this in Humanae Vitae back in 1968. Pope John Paul II warned us repeatedly for over twenty-five years in all of his writings, in which he gave us the roadmap, philosophically and theologically, back to a Culture of Life.

We should not deceive ourselves: The raised issue of health care rationing represents significant momentum for the Culture of Death that will require a muscular response to slow, halt and reverse. We need to become very vocal in our affirmation of life in all of its stages. We are in dire straits, but we have all the answers before us, and all of the graces of Heaven for the asking.

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Black Bart writes in the Washington Post his rationale.

Let’s focus on Black Bart’s statement here:

“Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy. Perhaps the most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. More recently, in 2007, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435, restricting embryonic stem-cell research. This executive order protected the sanctity of life and was “applauded” and “welcomed” by pro-life advocates. That these same people would now claim that President Obama’s executive order maintaining the sanctity of life is not worth the paper it is written on is disingenuous at best.”

This is representative of the theme running through his article. Black Bart isn’t trying to deceive us so much as he is trying to deceive himself. The two executive orders quoted differ from the one he sought, and gained, in that they did not attempt to nullify existing law-a process Constitutionally reserved to the legislature and the courts.

In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln recognized that an executive order could NOT override the Constitution by freeing slaves in states of the Union, such as Maryland and Kentucky, as these were Constitutionally guaranteed rights. However, in his Constitutional capacity of Commander-in-Chief he reasoned that the Confederate States, having seceded, had no claim upon the U.S. Constitution, and therefore no rights. The EP only freed slaves of the Confederacy as a means of depriving the CSA of their labor base.

Therefore, Stupak gets it badly wrong on the EP as an executive order.

In the stem cell ban, President Bush was blazing new territory, and was ahead of the Congress on this issue. There was no Congressional law being abrogated, no Constitutional right being abrogated. Bush wasn’t addressing the legality of ESC research, but only what the Federal Government was willing to pay for.

Again, Stupak gets it badly wrong.

Black Bart voted in favor of Hillary Clinton’s initiative to broaden American-sponsored abortion in third world nations. He voted twice to block bills that would defund Planned Parenthood.

He came to this issue with blood all over his hands. He announced last November that he would vote for Obama’s bill with or without anti-abortion language. In so doing, he signaled Obama that there was no real principled opposition to the final vote. In our hearts, we were desperate for someone, ANYONE, to block this legislation, in part because of its sponsorship of abortion. We hoped and prayed that even one with blood on his hands would possibly come to his senses.

We were wrong.

We were wrong to vest so much faith in such a man (though not wrong to hope).

What did we learn? We learned that there is no such thing as a pro-life block in the Democrat Party worth courting or cultivating. They simply used our time and dissipated our energies. Raw power is all they know, or respect. They need to experience the raw power of the electorate come November.

The Republicans are only marginally better. However, they will in all likelihood be given another chance at power. If they blow it this time, they’ll be in the wilderness for a very long time.

Black Bart has betrayed us all, especially his Catholic roots. Worst of all, he betrayed himself.

I pray that this man lives a VERY long life, well into his nineties, to see and loathe the evil that he has helped to unleash, and which was his to stop. When he finally meets Jesus, I pray for him the mercy that he has denied for countless babies who will be slaughtered because of this man’s votes.

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In a town hall meeting in his home district, Stupak announced that even if his amendment failed, he would vote for the health care bill.

So, if he could leverage anti-abortion language, he would. If he couldn’t, rather than force a failure on Obama and a return to the bargaining table, Stupak announced that he was not very serious about abortion all along.

Here is Stupak in his own words:

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This photo of Obama from this past Sunday’s New York Times.

The Cross.

The Halo.

The finger pointing Heavenward.

The Temple (White House).

The Sermon on the Mount.

This isn’t photojournalism. This is Marxist-style propagandizing. The Times has dropped all pretense at journalistic objectivity. They have been waging war on Christianity for decades, with Evangelicals and Catholics being their biggest targets-the so-called religious right.

Marxism has always made the state the replacement of religion, that opiate of the masses. There is no God. The state is god. It is from the state that all blessings flow, including one’s sustenance. Statist totalitarianism mandating atheism. It’s happening right before our eyes as the final push is on to grab the healthcare system. Then the government will BE god, determining who lives and who dies, and how soon.

The co-opting of the saint’s halo, the Cross, and the Messiah Himself in this photo may well be our last warning. The Times has proclaimed the New Messiah. The White House is the New Jerusalem. The picture tells all. They believe that they have won. This past Sunday was Obama’s grotesque Palm Sunday, the Messiah’s welcome parade.

The question is whose Easter will prevail? Obama’s or Christ’s?

This is our rallying point.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Ben Nelson will air a defense of his traitorous vote during tonight’s University of Nebraska Holiday Bowl game.

The good Senator will reportedly say:

“I listened to you and took a common-sense approach to improve the bill. Now it lowers costs for families and small business, protects Medicare, finally guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions and reduces the deficit. And it’s not run by the government. I’m convinced this is right for Nebraska.”

No mention of government funding for abortion in exchange for all of that in a bill that 65% of Americans dislike anyway. What Nelson doesn’t get is that people have a principled opposition to abortion. This Christmas wish list of goodies will only serve to enrage people further, as their integrity is held in contempt.

Not everyone’s conscience can be bought, Senator Nelson.

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Obama-Reid-Pelosi

A picture tells a thousand words. Honest Leadership. Open Government. Words emblazoned in the background and foreground. Politicians do this when their actions are deceitful and dishonest. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

This is the Party that literally changed the locks and would not permit Republican participation in the process, who hold votes in the middle of the night, who bribe, and now according to LifeNews.com are attempting to make Medicare death panels a permanent fixture by using language that would prohibit future sessions of the House and Senate from overturning the legislation.

Now will Americans get it? This is a political party literally drunk with blood. Death is their answer to everything. November can’t come soon enough.

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Trial lawyers have an old saying.

“When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the facts are not on your side, pound the table.”

In the debate over the link between abortion and breast cancer, there is a fair amount of table-pounding by those who support the status quo.

This is accomplished by attacking the stature of the journal in which the data are published. Older, more established ideas are published in older more established journals. Newer ideas that rock the boat may or may not get published in older, more established journals. Much depends on the nature of the editorial board and reviewers. It’s not uncommon for newer ideas to be published in “lesser” journals.

The identity of the journal does not of itself impeach the credibility of the study being reported; be it the study’s design, execution, data collection, analysis or conclusions. At issue is the prevailing orthodoxy that maintains abortion as relatively safe in the short term, with no long-term sequelae.

A responsible assessment of the scientific literature must first deal with the objections to newer ideas in the literature, objections arising from scientific orthodoxy.

Dr. Bernard Cohen, Professor of History of Science and General Education, Harvard University, wrote the following on Orthodoxy and Scientific Progress. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 96, No.5, October 1952. P505 ff.

“…Yet we are then faced with a paradox, since a canon of ‘orthodoxy’ would seem to imply a certain measure of hostility to major innovations, and we are all familiar with the sentiment that scientists thrive on the replacement of their old and cherished theories or beliefs by new ones.

“I have known intimately a number of creative scientists and I have studied the behavior of a great many more as revealed by the record of history. I have never encountered one of any importance whatever who would welcome with joy and satisfaction the publication of a new theory, explanation, or conceptual scheme that would completely replace and render superfluous his own creation. He may be pleased at a revision that makes his own work more useful, or more widely applicable; and even the news of a new experiment or observation that canot be explained may be greeted warmly, since it constitutes a test or challenge which the scientist hopes-or may be sure- his theory can meet.

“But any suggestion that scientists so dearly love truth that they have not the slightest hesitation in jettisoning their beliefs is a mean perversion of the facts. It is a form of scientific idolatry, supposing that scientists are entirely free from the passions that direct men’s actions, and we should have little patience with it.

“Actually, of course, scientists do give up cherished beliefs-whether of their own creation or others- when the evidence is overwhelming. But before doing so, they are apt to attempt all sorts of intellectual devices or dodges in an attempt to save the accepted doctrine. Modern science has been characterized by a constant succession of often rapid and dramatic changes and in most branches of science a textbook has a short life without revision. We are tempted, therefore, to think of the creative activity of a scientist as consisting in large measure of a rejection of what he has been taught, whereas the scientist actually tries-often in vain- to fit each new discovery or set of discoveries into the traditional theories before he abandons them.

“The mind-even of scientists- clings to conceptions or preconceptions as long as it is humanly possible. Very often, therefore, when scientists have no alternative save to accept a new doctrine, they attempt to show that it was neither so new or so radical as had been generally supposed.”

That’s the down side to orthodoxy in science. Cohen then goes on to tell us the positive function of orthodoxy:

“…we must keep in mind that orthodoxy makes scientific progress more secure, and in fact may be one of the reasons that scientific progress is even possible. Orthodoxy presents a hurdle for every new scientific idea. This means that a scientific theory must have a considerable background of experimental data before it can be given any serious consideration…

“Had scientists no orthodoxy, and if they welcomed with avidity every possible idea that any one might have, the scientific enterprise would be characterized by chaos rather than positive achievement and progress.”

In Part II, we’ll consider the objections voiced by those who oppose the data suggesting a link between breast cancer and abortion. Pounding the facts or pounding the table?

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