Posts Tagged ‘Medical Paternalism’
Ever since the pep rally that was the white coat ceremony in the backyard of the White House, I’ve been waiting to see what the doctors who I hold in highest regard have to say on the issue of health reform.
Then this came to my attention. It is the strong, yet characteristically kind, words of Dr. Ben Carson. And, he appears to be more in the mainstream of physicians than not:
[W]ith credibility and acclaim the world over for the pioneering surgeries he has and his personal story of overcoming hardship, recently ripped the dominant health care legislation before Congress in a critique similar to that of conservatives and libertarians. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Md., and recipient of numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, criticized in a recent interview the approach of the current bills for their mandate, creation of a “public option,” and lack of malpractice liability reform.
“My biggest problem is I feel it’s going in the wrong direction,” Carson told reporters at TV station WLOS in Asheville, N.C. (Video here.)“It’s giving us more government and less autonomy. And I think we should be going in exactly the opposite direction. We should be having more autonomy and less government. And that is the kind of thing that brings the prices down.”
Considered one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, Carson gained acclaim in the ’80s and ‘90s for his pioneering operations separating conjoined twins joined at the head and other procedures that have saved children from epilepsy and brain cancer. But Carson is also celebrated for his personal story of overcoming poverty and prejudice. An African-American, Carson grew up in a single-parent home Detroit ghetto, but his mother pushed him and his brother to achieve excellence. He is the author of the popular autobiography “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” which was made into a TV movie this year with Cuba Gooding Jr. portraying Carson. And he does much philanthropic work through charities such as his “Carson Scholars” fund.
I included that last paragraph because I wanted to give kudos to Cuba Gooding’s potrayal of Dr. Carson – you really ought to watch it sometime. Dr. Carson’s story is among the most inspiring in our nation’s history.
But I digress, or do I? You see, what Dr. Carson is reacting to is the force medical paternalism that squelches the freedom to succeed, to exceed, and to advance medical breakthroughs and life-saving, life-affirming techniques for which he is renown. Imagine the conjoined twins he separated receiving the “gifted hands” of Dr. Ben Carson under health reform. Weighing the costs and benefits, wouldn’t it be more likely that these unique creations would have had their resources allocated elsewhere?
In it’s most recent publication, the public interest group, “West Virginians for Affordable Health Care” regurgitates many of the talking points from the White House in an attempt to debunk the, in the words of the President, “extraordinary lie[s]” of pro-life groups across the country opposed to the recent Health Care proposal.
In one section of it’s patronizingly titled, “Sense and Nonsense” article is the following “exchange”:
NONSENSE: Health reform will lead to rationing health care.
SENSE: “Rationing” occurs in health care and other goods and services whenever demand exceeds supply. Organs, for example, are precious commodities, and their donation is strictly regulated by national guidelines. Rationing is necessary and inevitable. Allocation of the swine flue vaccine this fall will provide a practical experience of rationing. If the demand for the vaccine exceeds the supply, we will have to decide who will receive the first million doses available.
Rationing might be better described as an appropriate allocation of resources. In an essay in the Washington Post [sic], an infectious disease specialist wrote, “the unspoken truth among doctors is that we objectively or subjectively ration care, and often don’t tell patients or their families.” Health reform would make such decisions an allocations more transparent and accountable.
Oh, I get it. It’s not rationing, its, “an appropriate allocation of resources.”