Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Not Feeling So Good

I guess it stands to reason that I’m not feeling very well these days. Congress is debating the president’s health care bill which by most accounts is ridiculously expensive, and not what it is being purported to be.

Back in 1993 when we were first introduced to the prospect of “Hillary Care” I was fearful then that the government would stick its fingers into this cash cow and ruin what is the best health care system on planet earth. Granted, it is not perfect. That goes without saying. But as one of the slogans from the Clinton era goes, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free!”

The bill currently before the House of Representatives is over one thousand pages in length. Who reads this stuff? From the best I can understand, Congressional aides read parts of these bills and then feed the information to the Congressman. Many of these elected officials at least admit they don’t even read the bill. But doesn’t it baffle you that they can go to the floor of the Senate or House and defend a bill they’ve never read with a vehemence that is breath-taking?

No doubt you’ve heard or read stories of health care under a socialist system. I actually lived in a country for two years where they had socialized medicine. But as a thirteen year old in Norway I was the picture of health. If I was living there today, I might find myself in a bit of trouble. England and Canada, too. Anywhere they have socialized medicine. The system of socialized medicine is run by the government, which taxes the citizens to pay for everyone’s health care. The frightening part of this is that some bureaucrat will decide what sort of health care you receive. Take my health for instance. I have always enjoyed sports, and athletics of all sorts. Working out in the gym was a daily experience which I looked forward to. Until about eight years ago I was playing handball with several friends each morning for between and hour and a half to two hours – non-stop. It was great! In my younger days I spent a lot of time in the weight room. In my mid-forties I decided I was going to shoot for a personal best in the bench press by the time I hit fifty. I achieved that goal. But during the past decade I began to notice a decline in my ability to exercise without running out of gas. I attributed it to getting older. The Navy requires that you run a mile and a half twice a year under supervised conditions. As a former Marine, this was laughable. Marines haven’t even broken a sweat at a mile and a half. I used to joke that you could do a mile and a half with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. I didn’t realize how close to the truth I was.

Toward the end of my military career I was having trouble running the mile and a half. I excused it to being overly tired, pushing sixty, etc. Those of you who have followed this column for the past couple of years will recall that I finally went to see my doctor after I had to stop playing a round of golf because I simply was exhausted. After a battery of tests it was determined that I had heart disease. In fact, I had six blockages that ranged between 75% and 95%. Six stents were then inserted into the heart arteries, and then fourteen months later I had two more stents added to my growing collection. I joke about setting a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. But seriously, if I was living in a nation with socialized medicine I fear I would not be a candidate for advanced medical care. I turn sixty-one in September. Would there be additional health care treatment for me and my heart disease under that system? Could I even expect to be placed on some waiting list in the hopes that I would still be around when the system notified me that there was a doctor available to take care of my heart? I shudder to think!

My personal physician, as well as my cardiologist, both told me that my heart disease is unique. It seems that there's a small percentage of people who find themselves with heart disease which has nothing to do with poor diet or lack of exercise. As my cardiologist said to me, “It’s in your genes, and it picked you.”

So despite all the exercise, and being attentive to my diet, I was dealt this hand. I’m okay with that because the Lord is ultimately in control. But I am troubled that we will wind up with a socialized health care system in America that will prevent folks from receiving the care they need. You have to ask the question: Why do our northern neighbors in Canada come to the States when they need operations?

I was listening to a physician on a radio talk show this morning who works in the Intensive Care Unit for a major hospital in Chicago. He sees all sorts of patients – from the skid row bums to the elite of society. He was emphatic when he said no one, under any conditions, is refused care. Neither are they refused a medical procedure that would save the persons life. Can the current administration’s health care plan before Congress make that claim?

Pay attention, America.

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