Why is everyone missing the point? Let me try to explain:
My father became seriously ill one night in the late ’90’s, and was taken to the hospital in Orange, Texas. I didn’t rush over to see about things, because there was no indication of urgency. I have some experience in the life sciences, and there is at least a remote chance that I might have been able to prevent the fiasco that transpired, if I had the seething distrust and loathing of the medical profession then that I have now.
The small-town hospital didn’t know what to do, and transferred him to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont. It was the weekend, and the “B” team on call made a classical medical blunder—they misdiagnosed congestive heart failure as pneumonia.
The cardiac team that moved in to clean up—or rather cover up—the blunder went into hard-core damage control mode. Our attempts to get information on my father’s condition deteriorated into several screaming matches with the cardiac professionals and the hospital administrator. They punished our insolence by declaring that my father had contracted an antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain so they could put him in isolation and restrict our attempts to visit him. He was, by this time, on a ventilator and a constant feed of morphine (which is how they keep elderly patients quiet until the insurance runs out).
Rather than watch my father murdered slowly, I next attempted to have him transferred to any of several hospitals in Houston, where most of the family lives. This would have required a physician in Houston to take over his case. All refused out of hand, including physicians who are prominent in our Church and have known us for years. It would have required some physician to go against the wishes of a very prominent cardiac group in Beaumont, and nobody would have anything to do with our request.
My mother wanted to take him home to care for him, which would have been nearly impossible. Thus, I made my second critical mistake in dealing with my father’s final illness. I suggested that we get a doctor from nearby Port Arthur to come by and see him in the hospital and give us an independent opinion on his condition and recommendations for his further care. A doctor I called agreed to see him the next day. I actually thought we had reason to hope that we could then get him transferred to a non-demon-spawned medical institution.
So, still foolishly believing that even the monstrously evil medical professionals we had been screaming at in desperation to stop them from torturing my father to death would have some vestigial level of humanity, I left my father in that Hell-hole of a hospital for one more night. Worse, I actually faxed the hospital administrator to tell him that a doctor outside the Beaumont cardiac establishment would be stopping by to see my father.
It never occurred to me that they would just murder him. But they did, and I was told the next morning that he had died—at just about the time they would have arrived in their offices, and read that message on the fax machine, plus—presumably—the time it would have taken to drop by his room and give him a little extra morphine.
They did suffer a brief period of evident panic when I demanded an autopsy. (There were nervous phone calls, and threats to make us pay for it.) My mother couldn’t face the prospect, however.
Strangely, every law firm I contacted about the situation was somehow involved with the very prominent cardiac care group responsible and couldn’t represent us. Other family members finally couldn’t take anymore, and the matter was dropped, at least from the standpoint of mere temporal, human justice.
In later years, I have visited terminally ill, long-term care patients often enough to learn how you can tell when the insurance coverage is about to run out. You see, the hospital chaplain comes around, to fret with the family that the patient “just needs to let go”.
Recently, we tried to help a family friend who couldn’t work because of multiple strokes, and has no health care benefits. Since the friend had to depend on municipal charities for her considerable medical expenses, she had to go to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston on two occasions when she suffered serious psychiatric breakdowns (One involved threatening her clinic physician). On both occasions, we left her in the care of the alleged charity hospital, only to have her discharged by the staff within hours. Apparently they deduced some sort of miraculous cure, and dumped her out in the lobby.
So it is not without some experience in the matter of health care in America that I have concluded that the Great Health Care Debate is irrelevant and fraudulent at best, and Hell’s joke on the human race at worst. I said earlier that private health care would leave you out in the street to die if you couldn’t pay, while government managed heath care would leave you out in the street to die if they found you politically unreliable. Neither is an acceptable model of anything which should be mistaken for humane, responsible, competent medical care. The powerful will continue to torment and abuse the weak as they have done for centuries, no matter who pretends to pay for the process for whatever political or economic advantage.
The foundation of caring for the sick, poor, and helpless among us is not to be found in actuarial tables or economic-management models, however cutting-edge they might seem at the time. An evil people will always produce evil results, special professional oaths to the contrary notwithstanding.
Jesus knew us for the evil beings we were in His day, and how much more evil we would be able to accomplish later when augmented with superior technology. He gave us the Law which actually works, from the God Who Actually Exists, and His Life in our place, so that a relative handful of us might avoid the most permanent consequences:
Matthew 22:37-39 (New International Version)
37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’