[Author’s note: In my time as a writer, fiction has been the primary vehicle by which I convey my ideas. I hope any readers can forgive my indulgence in that particular method of communication to discuss what I see as the future ramifications of the health care bill, shoudl it be enacted into law.]
Today is Tuesday, April 4. Today’s a rather cold day; another cold April day in a continuing progression of particularly cold Aprils that seem to have gotten worse as the years have gone on, in spite of the continuous war we have been fighting against climate change. But I’m not writing this to provide my personal ruminations on the nonexistence of anthropogenic global warming, or climate change, destruction, chaos or whatever it is they’re calling it these days. That’s a never-ending battle to discuss another time. Instead, I’m writing to mark an anniversary, one with which most kids these days are unfamiliar. On this date, twenty-five years ago, the first bill was passed which led to the creation of the National Health Resources Controlling Committee.
I still prefer to call it ObamaCare, even though such terminology is out of vogue, especially due to the fact that Obama has not been President since 2017. But old habits die hard, I suppose.
You’re probably wondering why I’m writing this, why I’m bothering to document something that is, simply put, an unequivocal part of life. Why bother talking about the history of something that cannot be changed? Or something whose history has been changed so many times through the years? Maybe it’s due to a longing for a time when truth was absolute, when history was a record of past events from which we could learn, and when the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were truly unalienable.
But mostly I think it’s because I’m angry and lacking any other method to voice my anger or anyone of significance who will listen. This is all I have.
It started with the dream of a progressive utopia. And as is often the case, utopia for the elites proved to be dystopia for the rest of us.
The debate on the issue of health care reform rolled on for almost a year. Bills were proposed, scrapped, changed, backroomed, reproposed, amended and voted on, while the American public and the Congressional members voting yea had little idea what was really included in any particular bill. Yet consistently those same members of Congress and President Obama himself claimed to know every minute detail that was included. At the time, I was reading Atlas Shrugged (it’s since been more or less banned in schools), a book registering more than one thousand pages in length. It took me months. The health care bills had the tendency to be almost three times that length. I certainly could not remember each and every detail of the book I had been reading. Was it a stretch of the imagination to think that it would not be possible for Democrats to remember every rule and provision in the health care bill? To think otherwise would have been pure folly; and yet daily we were told of how absolutely certain they were of the bill’s contents.
A prominent Republican talked about death panels that would result from this bill. That a committee of appointed bureaucrats would be able to decide life and death decisions about medical care, decisions which had previously been between doctor and patient. “Don’t spoil the debate with rhetoric on death panels,” she was told. The prevailing meme was that she, and all of us, were too stupid or naïve to understand the intricacies of the bill. “But how are insurance companies not death panels?” we were asked. The straw men were consistently set up and knocked down. I don’t expect kids nowadays to know what a straw man is. After all, as someone once sarcastically told me, “logic is the contrivance of the white male Europeans.” He might have been kidding, but those who decided that critical thinking skills are unnecessary in life were all too serious. I digress.
Eventually, through machinations, deals and pledges which to this day I cannot fully understand, the health care behemoth was passed on their Easter deadline in 2010. Make no mistake, the Democrats suffered heavily for their plotting. The House of Representatives was lost to them and the Senate was nearly evened out. The Republicans celebrated their November victories and quickly went about trying to put the American house back in order. But there was too much to do. The economy was in shambles and the entitlement programs were bankrupting the country. As Republicans worked to pass bills to repeal ObamaCare, the bureaucratic network began to establish itself. It was difficult for them, but the Republicans managed to get both chambers to agree to a bill that would end ObamaCare before it could really get off the ground.
What they were lacking, however, was an adequate number of votes to override President Obama’s veto. So the goal for Republicans became to correct that problem by winning the Presidency in 2012. They failed in this regard, because if there was anything in which President Obama was fully capable, it was campaigning. As time passed, complacency set in. The mantra of “Repeal it! Undo it!” started to shift to “We can do it better!” Through the prior eighty years of progressivism, this had always been the case. Incremental gains by the Democrats meant incremental adjustments to ObamaCare, to the introduction of a Public Option, then the gradual shift to a fully government run system.
What the Republicans never managed to realize was that they were at war. The war was not a traditional one, but rather one of ideals and power, with the outcome being nothing less than the freedom of the American people. As such, we ended up with was the National Health Resources Controlling Committee.
But we couldn’t dare call it a death panel.
This history is incomplete, of course. The full account is far too detailed and nuanced to ever be put into words by one man alone. This is merely a short account, recorded for posterity’s sake; recorded by an angry man who has been cut off from the typical existential angst that guided previous generations. I guess they probably don’t teach about existentialism any more, either.
What has caused this anger to spring from the deepest, darkest parts of my soul, you may ask? The anger arises partially from a cruel nature which would allow a world in which the body of my beloved could so stunningly turn against her and stricken her with cancer. Part of the anger is from my own impotence at being incapable of securing the finances necessary to afford the treatment available on the medical black market. But primarily, my anger is at the National Health Resources Controlling Committee.
You see, the cancer was perfectly treatable. It was at a stage in which, at one point in time, her doctor would have referred her to an oncologist who would have recommended surgery or chemotherapy. It would not have mattered what her past history was or whether she was likely to suffer it again. In all likelihood the payment would have been taken on partially by her insurance company and partially by us. And even if, for whatever reason, the insurance company declined we would have had the option to pay it ourselves. Instead our system dictated that the case be brought before the local NHRCC, which scoured her medical records and family history. I’d seen others with similar issues go before the committee and have their requests approved. I expected the same.
Instead, the committee deemed that her family history indicated that the cancer would likely not go permanently into remission. Also, a history of Alzheimer’s and mental illness on the other side of her family made her a high risk for developing further problems. The committee, though not saying this, did not want to be tied down by having to see the same patients over and over again. Such continual need for medical care was problematic. Society could not bear the burden of treating someone who would not necessarily live to fully enjoy the “gift” that society had given them.
I watched my beloved wither and waste away, barely managing on the pittance of painkillers the committee had been gracious enough to provide. I became angry, and rightfully so.
But we dared not to call them death panels, or else that would have saddled the debate with too much vivid (i.e. truthful) language. And now I wait. I wait for the day when my body turns against me as well and the committee, either because I’ve written this or because I’m too much of a “risk,” decides that I too am expendable.
As James Madison has been quoted, at a point where he was actually taught about in our school system: “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”