Much of the press coverage of the Democrats' health care legislation, now fiercely embattled in Congress, focuses on the public option, the actual long-term costs and tax increases, and the amendment barring funding for abortions. But the cold heart of Obamacare is its overpowering of the doctor-patient relationship - eventually resulting in the premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly.
To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments each year of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure will be punished by losing part of their own incomes.
Hentoff is one of the few true pro-life progressives out there, so his outrage at Obamacare should not be surprising. And, as he notes later on, Obamacare as it is currently envisioned, is bureaucratic and totalitarian. The fees paid to doctors are so tight-fisted that they will inevitably result in health care decisions being made by bureaucrats reading budget line-items, not doctors reading medical charts.
If congressional Democrats succeed in passing their health care "reform" measure to send to the White House for President Obama's signature, then they and he are determining your health decisions.
Also remember that these functionaries making decisions about your treatment and, in some cases, about the extent of your lifespan, have never met you. They do not know your name, have not spoken directly to your doctor, and, of course, haven't the slightest idea of what your wishes are. Is this America?
Marc K. Siegel is a practicing internist and an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. In "Destroying the Doctor-Patient Bond" (New York Post, Aug. 3), he points to Section 123 of the House bill, which "establishes a Health Benefits Advisory Committee, chaired by the surgeon general, which makes recommendations to the HHS secretary on what should be covered and what shouldn't.
"These rulings from on high," Dr. Siegel warns, "are problematic, since useful treatments or tests for one patient are not appropriate for another. Appeals are bound to be time-consuming and largely ineffective. This is the government interfering directly with the practice of medicine."
Is this what presidential candidate Barack Obama meant by "Change we can believe in?" Even if you voted for him, is this the change you will believe in if your doctor is overruled by the government in his or her treatment decisions about you?
I know that when conservatives say the above, they are bring "evil" and "carrying water for the insurance industry." What does it mean when a man like Hentoff, who has been in the vanguard of the Left for decades, says the same things? Hentoff is above all else a humanitarian and he knows the sort of anti-life impulses that course through the progressive community. Is there anyone listening, or do they just want the political win?
Tragically for people like Hentoff, this is the moment when they learn the truth about progressivism. It is not about compassion or freedom or civil rights or even good music - all areas where Hentoff has been a trailblazer. It is about destroying the existing system and taking control over the wreckage. Above all else, what counts is Doing Something about the supposed injustice of the US health care system. The point is not to reform it, or improve it, but to bring it to heel so that no one will be "left out," and today's Left can "make history."