[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]
A dear friend recently passed away at the age of 91. He had been in fairly good health until the last year of his life, and he spent his final six months shuttling between emergency rooms, intensive care units, and a convalescent hospital as he battled pneumonia and a MRSA infection. He was even given a pacemaker a few months before he died.
One can envision that had the health-care regime now under consideration in Congress already been in place, my friend would have been denied much of the treatment he received in those final six months. What sense does it make, some would argue, to commit so many costly resources to the treatment of a 91-year-old man? Why not offer medication to keep him comfortable and then allow nature to take its course, freeing those health-care dollars for some more vital patient?
From a strictly economic perspective, why indeed?
My friend’s wife survived him and lives on today at age 90. She still drives but prefers not to if there is someone around to take her on errands, so while her husband was in the hospital, my wife and I would sometimes drive her to visit him. Though confined to his bed and in some discomfort, he was for the most part alert and responsive. The singular joy of his day was the visit with his wife, when she would sit at the edge of his bed and rub his back and tell him of the latest news from relatives and friends. They had been married for 62 years, so there was also a lot of talk about the old times. As they wrapped up their visits, she would tell him she loved him and that she would see him tomorrow. “Love you too,” he would answer, “see you tomorrow.” Finally, as all of ours will, those tomorrows came to an end.
If this monstrosity of a health-care bill becomes law, who will determine, and by what measure will they determine it, that we have consumed our allotment of medical care and are now obliged, for the sake of a healthier nation, to go away and die?
I’m certain my friend and his wife held those last few see-you-tomorrow moments as priceless. Who will put a price on ours?