Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Voter's Remorse

Falling Out of Love With Barack Obama
Ed Koch Commentary
August 10, 2009

I continue to be a supporter of President Barack Obama. He has had several outstanding successes. The major one has been a positive change in the economy due primarily, I believe, to his hand-picked team of economic advisers who, from all indications, have fashioned an effective economic recovery plan. The recovery still has a long way to go, but using the language of my doctors at the hospital in which I recently spent six critical weeks recovering from open-heart surgery, "All the numbers are going in the right direction." I also believe his reaching out to our allies and those not allied with us has somewhat calmed the world's roiled waters.


However, to date President Obama has presented no health care bill to the Congress and that legislative body has come up with a number of proposals for which he is being held responsible. Furthermore, the President has seemingly caved on important aspects of his health care agenda such as not restricting private insurance coverage and obtaining volume discounts from drug companies.

In order to keep costs from rising, most people acknowledge the need for some kind of limitations on spending. Rationing of public monies makes sense, e.g., should public monies be used to give a kidney or heart transplant to a 90-year-old patient, when it is necessary to reduce the costs of Medicaid and Medicare to keep them solvent? Both programs are totally government funded and operated. I would say no. Then the question becomes what about private funds being used by an individual willing to buy gold-plated insurance to provide unlimited medical expenditures for their health and survival? Should the government be able to limit such expenditures? My answer would be no.

I speak from personal experience. I have been told that the cost of my hospital care, including the services of 20 doctors and 72 nurses and medical technicians over a six-week period may ultimately cost a million dollars. My private insurance policy is paid for by my law firm, Bryan Cave LLP, and because I still work full-time, that insurance policy is my primary one, not Medicare, even though I am 84 years old. Will that continue to be the case under any law signed by President Obama or will I be denied the right to spend my own money and my law firm's for such unlimited coverage?


Most alarming for people like me, who at 84 years of age recently needed a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement, are the pronouncements of President Obama's appointee, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to a New York Post op ed article by Betsy McCauley, former Lt. Governor of the State of New York, stated, "Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, 'as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others' (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008)." He also stated, "...communitarianism' should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those 'who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens...An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.' (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96). "


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