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Slow Down There Pardner

June 15th, 2009 - 8:55 am

One of the statistics getting thrown around during the health care reform debate is that Americans, unlike our wiser European brethren, spend close to 50% of all the money they’ll ever spend on health care, in the last six months of life.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?

And the President’s “rationing board,” (or whatever he’s calling it), will ration a lot of that away. The government will decide which treatments you really need, when you’re going to die soon anyway.

But let’s think about this for just a moment.

If 50% of the money is being spent, you can bet close to 50% of the profits are being made. And if that’s where the profits are, Big Pharma will – surprise! – want some more of that. And that means research. And research means new treatments.

New treatments means your last six months of life now happen around age 75 or 80, instead of around 60. Or 50. Or 35.

Someday, maybe those last six months will come at age 100. Or 120. Or longer. Who knows? What we do know is, given a chance to make a buck, American medicine has led the world in extending life. Sure, life expectancy might be longer in Japan or France. But that’s mostly due to American know-how combined with healthier lifestyles. If we cut out the fat (literally), we’d live longer, too.

The President is promising to save money by eliminating a lot of those seemingly pointless end-of-life treatments. But that’s also going to mean an end to end-of-life profits. And, well, you can bet our life expectancy will get frozen in place as a result.

Sure, we all pay for expensive treatments for other people who are going to die soon, anyway. But we also all get to enjoy the benefits of a industrious and profitable health care industry. And even if we ourselves don’t get to live to be 90 or 100 or more, there’s a much better chance that our kids or their kids will.

And yet Washington is in such a rush to “fix” what’s not broken, that six weeks is all we have to stop this madness. Just yesterday Joe Biden admitted the Porkulus Bill was pretty much a waste. That was nearly $800 billion down the drain, because we “needed” to pass a bill so quickly that no one had the time to figure out what was really going on. Now we’re talking another $1.5 trillion in nationalized health care spending.

Shouldn’t we take a little longer than six weeks to talk about it?

UPDATE: Debate? We don’t need no stinkin’ debate.

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