I’ve seen social media posts screaming that, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare), Medicare will triage sick people based on their age. They will let old people die, presumably because they’ve outlived their usefulness in society.
Since when is that anything new?!? A handful of cultures in this world look up to, and even revere, their ancient ones. Modern U.S. society is NOT one of them.
(Native Americans often left their old people behind, to die alone, when they became a burden and would have slowed down the movement of those younger. Some elders even asked to be left to die. It was tradition. That is not what I’m referring to here.)
Mistreatment of the Elderly
The Affordable Care Act may have put it in writing but, except for the wealthy, withholding compassionate medical treatment of the aged has been an ad hoc medical policy and practice in our society for years. For decades prior to Obamacare, you were often whistling Dixie if you asked for relief in a hospital as or for an old, sick person. Ask anyone who has ever fought a hospital system on behalf of a loved one.
Were the hospital mistreatment less, sick old people wouldn’t be dumped on the street, wearing just a hospital gown. The abuses in our nursing homes and low-quality rehab centers wouldn’t have mushroomed the way they have. Such abuses would never have happened in our corporate greed-based society, and we (you and I) would never have allowed the financial, physical, mental and sexual abuse of the elderly that happens on a daily basis. Often, it’s even perpetrated by their own relatives.
It Will Happen to You
You may think elder abuse will never impact you or your family or your friends. Please think again! It has, it does, and it will, unless there’s a sea change in our attitude toward the elderly:
- The now old folks were there for us when we were snot-nosed kids with dirty diapers.
- They tucked us in at night.
- They taught us to read, to cook and sew, to fix a lawnmower, to change the oil in a car.
- They put up with our teenage know-it-all tantrums.
Now, that trusted nephew will likely steal you blind. That doting child may well attempt to steal her father’s estate, after others tried and failed to steal the grandfather’s.
It Didn’t Start with Obamacare
One of the niches I’ll be writing in is that of elder care/abuse until it becomes too depressing to absorb. But for now, I won’t sit by and tut-tut about such happenings without speaking up. But don’t blame killing off the elderly on Obamacare. The practice already existed and nurses have gone to jail for multiple murders. Sometimes they were well-intentioned, though misguided in the extreme.
Withholding Pain Killers
If we were not so holier-than-thou about withholding pain killers from those who are approaching death, their agony could be alleviated. Who cares if a person 90 days or 6 months away from departure from this world becomes addicted to painkiller? If you pious folks think it’s against God’s will to relieve pain and suffering, please volunteer to change places with those screaming in pain. I dare you to put yourself in their place!
Yes, It’s Flawed!
Yes, the Affordable Care Act is flawed. For one thing, I can’t stand the current mindless, nosy Medicare questionnaires I fill out every year myself. My doctors fight the system over simple medications. The program needs improvement! But if money-hungry surgeons push for invasive procedures when “watchful waiting” or more moderate treatment would have been more appropriate, don’t blame that on Obamacare either. Every patient in this country is different and deserves individual consideration of the options. However, it doesn’t always happen, and never has. After all, money talks.
To Dismantle Obamacare
To dismantle Obamacare will also leave 21 million people out in the cold who have pre-existing conditions. Such was the cold-heartedness of private insurance in this country until the Affordable Care Act became law. The U.S. Supreme Court will review it again during the Fall term on the justices’ own schedule, not anyone else’s. They are completely separate from the Executive and Legislative arenas.
Senator Ted Kennedy Tried!
To digress for a moment: Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy spent his entire political life championing the cause of universal health care. He was successful in multiple instances, including obtaining expanded children’s health coverage and funding to fight HIV and AIDS. He did this, partly from exhaustive efforts of his own, and because he was able to reach across the aisle and gain support from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Kennedy also designed policies to protect the nation from bioterrorism, yet the complete list of his health care bills fills books. Here is a very brief overview. No one else came close to what he achieved in his 47 years in the Senate, and even before. Yet, in too many instances, Kennedy was blocked by those who felt that the poor or those already sick had no right to health care in this country, not even our own citizens! Somehow, to them health care was a privilege, and this from people who had health care readily available for purchase at reasonable cost for them and their families.
Yes, members of Congress pay for health insurance, as they should, given their ridiculous salaries. Base pay for the rank-and-file of $174,000 + benefits per year may be less than they could earn in private industry but it’s still obscene, given today’s frequent absences when they should instead be on hand to vote and get other work done for their constituents. In addition, they can still earn outside money.
Nothing Had Changed
President Obama acted out of frustration with that same ongoing stonewalling that Senator Kennedy had faced. If people wanted something better, they should have voted with Kennedy instead of fighting him over everything he tried to achieve, and often did in spite of them. His opponents could even have come up with their own “new and improved” health care coverage. Instead, they did nothing.
As for waiting for the private insurance industry to stop being greedy and expand health coverage at reasonable rates, don’t make me laugh. Their CEO’s tend to “earn” upwards of $20 million per year. The Affordable Care Act has weaknesses. Yet it needs to be built on, not destroyed by a political machine hell-bent on torturing anyone who disagrees with their inward-facing beliefs.
Pull Up the Ladder, Jack!
As an old British saying goes, “Pull up the ladder, Jack. I’m alright.” (Never mind those left floundering below in an angry ocean. I’m safe.) That perfectly describes the attitude of the “have’s” toward the “have not’s” in this disintegrating nation that has lost any compassion it ever had at the top. So if hospitals withhold treatment and let old people die, don’t blame it on Obamacare.