EDITORIAL

The Truth about Healthcare Reform

O nce upon a time, the Congress of the United States may have been interested in the nature of truth, but things have been spotty recently. There is an apparent exception, however, albeit in a convoluted way, i.e., in name only. This occurs when legislation embraces the word “truth” by naming a bill with the word in it. The prime example of a “Truth in ...” law is the “Truth in Lending Act.”

This well-known piece of legislation may have a good reputation with some, but it is, after all, a mandate that forces businesses to do things that are usually against their better judgment. That’s because, if what is mandated was business wise (and affordable), the businesses (or enough of them) would have done it already. And while more information can be a good thing, if the cost of presenting that information exceeds the benefit it provides to the business, then it is not good in the sense that it will drive marginal companies out of business.

Unsurprisingly, the cost of this “truthful” mandate and its never-ending amendments (see below) must be borne by the business, aka the target. Over the years, the targets have been increasingly maneuvered by expense and fiat in ways that ultimately have driven them into the hands (and under the control) of the body politic.

The Truth in Lending Act was first passed in 1968. Virtually every year since then, at least one amendment to this Topsy-like legislation has been proposed and passed. In 2009, according to www.thomas.gov, there are gads and gads of bills in both the House and the Senate, for example:

H.S.379: A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes.

H.S.400: A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act to reform consumer mortgage practices and provide accountability for such practices, to provide certain minimum standards for consumer mortgage loans, and for other purposes.

S.241: A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act to permit deferrals on certain home mortgage foreclosures for a limited period to allow homeowners to take remedial action, to require home mortgage servicers to provide advance notice of any upcoming reset of the mortgage interest rate, and for other purposes.

Imagine what it would be like if Truth in Lending mandates were applied, instead of to companies, to you as an individual. Each day, in order to conduct your personal affairs, you would have to comply with the new “legislative truths,” by filling out and filing new forms, gads and gads of forms. Moreover, there would be hearing and penalties if you didn’t comply properly.

Bankrupt, Owned, Operated, or Controlled

Notice anything about the targets of these bills? Well, it would be reasonable to say that they are directed at the automobile, banking, and the mortgage industries, among others less obviously. And what can you say about the businesses that comprise these industries? They are bankrupt, owned, operated, or controlled by the federal government. Or gone!

If one could form a principle from “truth” laws, it might be that they latch onto industries that are dying. Or that they deliver the “kiss of death.”

Once again, here cometh the proposed universal healthcare bill! It has neither a name nor a number yet, but in keeping with recent legislation, the name might be something like “Truth in Health,” “Truth in Living,” or “Truth in Dying.” Seriously! The last name might be best because on pages 425–429 of the healthcare bill, the Federal Government will require everyone who is on Social Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective of explaining “advance care planning” about how to end their own life earlier. More specifically:

Pg 425 Lines 4–12: Government mandates “advance care planning” consultation to discuss ways that senior citizens might end their lives.

Pg 425 Lines 17–19: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. (This is mandatory!)

Pg 425 Lines 22–25, 426 Lines 1–3: Government provides approved lists of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.

Pg 427 Lines 15–24: Government mandates program for orders for end of life. (The government has a say about how your life ends.)

Pg 429 Lines 1–9: An “advance care planning consultation” will be used frequently as patient's health deteriorates.

Pg 429 Lines 10–12: “Advance care planning consultation” may include an order for end of life plans. (That means an order from the government.)

Pg 429 Lines 13-25: The government will specify which doctors can write an end of life order.

Don’t take my word for this. See http://www.buythebill.com where you can download it free of charge.

The Truth of Representation

The underlying method of cutting costs throughout the plan is based on rationing and denying care. There is no focus on preventing healthcare need whatever (or for that matter on preventive healthcare, as our approach is known). Nor does the plan embrace humane and ethical approaches to cutting costs. That’s because the rationing of care is implemented through the National Health Care Board (referenced through section 1503), according to the plan. This illustrious Board “will approve or reject treatment for patients based on the cost per treatment divided by the number of years the patient will benefit from the treatment.”

Imagine how that would work. I have a friend who 40 years ago was given 6 to 12 months to live by three independent teams of oncologists. All three said that she had no chance of survival beyond 12 months. She is alive and well today because she and her husband insisted that she receive further treatment that would be considered “futile and a waste of resources” under the “health reform” bill.

Expense is not really the core issue (although it will be many times greater), nor is it the quality of the care (it will be inferior and there will be less, especially at end of life). The issue is life and liberty and whether the bill promotes one’s control over it or takes it away bit by bit (as it does). That’s where the truth lies.

Live long and prosper,

Will Block

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