What Obama Will Not Tell the Joint Session of Congress

The president of the United States will address a joint session of Congress [this] evening. In the interim, the talking heads on both the left and the right of the health care “reform” debate appear to be narrowly focused on but one topic: “single-payer” health insurance coverage. One would think that the White House had orchestrated the perfect storm: opposing parties discussing the one question that has nothing to do with the deadly aspects of the Obama health care “reform” agenda.

Think I’m joking? Think again.

The White House web site features a page ostensibly dedicated to women’s health and well-being, which includes the following statements: “President Obama has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and believes in preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade. At the same time, he respects those who disagree with him. The [p]resident believes we must all come together to help reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.”

As analysts of the various health care reform proposals have repeatedly pointed out, abortion is included in each bill as part of “reproductive health” policy. In other words, Obama may not address this tomorrow evening, but the fact is that so-called reproductive health care – including abortion, contraception and sterilization – will be there.

While the White House has made it clear that Obama believes “a government health insurance option” should be included in any health care “reform” plan, the overarching means of achieving this goal – cutting costs by denying expensive treatments to certain classes of patients – will not be touched with a 10-foot pole.

The Washington Post reports,

Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress — coming 16 years to the month after Clinton used a similar strategy to begin his health-care effort — is intended to “refocus the debate back on why we need to do this,” administration spokeswoman Linda Douglass said.

Liberal Democrats, with a nod from Obama, have pushed for the public option as a way to hold down insurance costs. But the industry, Republicans and some conservative Democrats argue that it could undermine the existing marketplace if it has the power to set prices. On Sunday, administration officials walked a fine line on the topic, maintaining that the president still prefers the option as a “tool” for creating competition in the health sector.

If this is so and if the marketplace is indeed the focus of the president’s call to action for the uninsured, then why would palliative care specialists, such as Robert L. Fine, M.D., still be getting ink from major newspapers at the 11th hour? Fine wrote in Sunday’s Washington Times,

Those who try to politicize the end-of-life care to further their own agenda only serve to tear apart our civic fabric. They ignore the fact that since 2005, Medicare has paid for counseling about end-of-life care as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical and mental assessment.

They overlook the provision in the Patient Self-Determination Act, passed by Congress as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, that requires Medicare-participating hospitals to provide patients with written information regarding their right to accept or refuse medical treatment offered and their right to make advance directives. They distract us from remedying one of the leading causes of premature death in America — lack of health care insurance.

Although Fine extols the Texas Advance Directives Act for supposedly protecting “patients and health care professionals with a balanced living will and a fair mechanism for facing moral disagreements at the end of life,” in an earlier Times commentary, malpractice attorney Robert W. Painter warned that the very same law authorizes death panels.

So, who is the public to believe? Why doesn’t the president plan to set the record straight, once and for all, about his attitudes toward health care and the dignity of the human person? Why isn’t David Axelrod telling the media that the president wishes to assuage concerns about conscience protection by setting forth a principled response to his critics? Why are all his minions stuck on the “single-payer” option and a public program?

It doesn’t take a Harvard degree to figure out the answer. As the Illinois Right to Life Committee’s  executive director, Bill Beckman, pointed out in his August 12 e-mail to other pro-life leaders,

How much greater potential for violation of conscience rights will exist when government administrators will be empowered to establish what is covered, what is not, and under what criteria? They will be able to mandate these features both for the government health plan and for other health plans, assuming these other health plans will even remain in existence, given provisions that clearly push everyone into the government plan over time as changes occur.

The clear evidence that the health care bill will provide means for government administrators to deny medical treatments based on “quality of life” criteria, and other means to ration health care, are not being addressed in any visible way by the communications issued by the Catholic Church. Given that past statements by key leaders in the administration reflect the concept that cutting health care costs will be achieved by denying services based on arbitrary “quality of life” criteria, ignoring this threat to respect for life is a significant omission (e.g. Ezekiel Emanuel, saying medical benefits of a government-controlled healthcare plan would not be given to patients with dementia (LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/bio2908.html) Emanuel’s statements are just one of many examples of the potential anti-life agenda built into this health care bill.

Why would the Washington Post, of all newspapers, publish an article by physician Marshall Ackerman in which he asks for a little respect for doctors in the health care “reform” debate, suggesting to readers,

At your next visit to your specialist, take a tip from the drug company ads and “ask your doctor”: Does he or she plan to retire early if reform legislation passes close to its present form? Does he or she plan to continue to participate with Medicare/Medicaid or participate with insurers that will not reimburse adequately? How does your doctor think health-care reform will affect the care you receive in his or her specialty? Access to a waiting list is not access to health care. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start considering the real flaws and strengths of our system and how to improve it.

And while we’re discussing the lack of transparency that will be painfully obvious tomorrow evening as Obama attempts to assuage our fears, let’s not forget the infamous Department of Veterans Affairs booklet Your Life, Your Choices. This publication identifies circumstances in which a life may be judged as supposedly not worthy of living (depression, disability, cost of care, etc.). Though the DVA claims it is being revised, the booklet remains on its web site, accompanied by this caveat: “It is the policy of the Obama [a]dministration to make available to the public scientific and technological information that is developed and used by the [f]ederal [g]overnment.”

Moreover, President Obama has assured veterans that “a proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system is not going to change how veterans get their medical services.” So, is the Your Life, Your Choices booklet going to become required reading for all Americans? Will each of us have to fill out the forms therein before we can get health care after age 65?

Will the president address these concerns?

Obviously, those who raise such questions – whether it is me, Sarah Palin or countless others – are relegated to the classification of “wing nut” by the Obama operatives. But a word to the wise is sufficient.

• Pay close attention and listen for the words “respect for the dignity of the human person” tomorrow night.

• Wait with bated breath for the president to assure his fellow Americans that any health care reform plan will honor the solid, ethical health care principles set forth in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

• Listen for welcome assurances such as these:

There will be no provision in any health care reform bill for taxpayer funding of abortion, contraception, sterilization, human embryonic stem cell therapy, euthanasia or assisted suicide. We will not encourage health care rationing. We will eliminate abuses in palliative care so that the dying are treated with dignity, because it is the right thing to do, not a matter of cost. We will respect the dignity of every single American citizen, including those not yet born and those facing death.

If you hear anything even remotely similar to this, I will publicly eat my own tennis shoes.

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