Another Face of Single-Payer

Sometimes it’s just too easy to point at England’s health care system and its flaws and to use it as an example of why ObamaCare is so bad, but it’s hardly my fault if they keep tossing more and more fuel on the fire.

For example, this tale.

A woman was concerned about her 80-year-old mother — and with good reason. Mumsy was diagnosed as terminally ill, in the last stages of pneumonia. The doctors did what they were trained to do — made her as comfortable as they could until she died.

The only problem was, she wasn’t exactly terminal.

No problem — we can’t let trivial things like facts get in the way of policy. Simply withhold any treatment beyond palliative — no antibiotics, no feeding tube, just painkillers and whatnot — until Nature takes its course.

The daughter didn’t agree. She thought Mumsy had some good time left in her, and wasn’t about to let her go gentle into that good night. She argued with the doctors for weeks — weeks when her mother stubbornly refused to accept their “dead within days” prognosis — and finally got her transferred to a nursing home.

Once again, the terribly flawed American system would not have had things play out this way. In the American system, the woman’s daughter could have the mother transferred to another hospital, with different personnel and different rules. She could have gone to the media and said “my mother has been there for two weeks. They said she’d die within days, but she’s still going — and they are refusing to even give her food!” She could have threatened to sue the hospital into providing the care they are legally and morally obligated to do.

But not in England. Transfer to another hospital? Forget it — they’re all run by the same central authority. Gone to the press? Who would have cared? Threatened to sue? Look up “sovereign immunity.”

This story, unlike Saturday’s, had a happy ending. The mother survived the casual “just hurry up and die” attitude of the hospital, and is still around for her family.

But she didn’t do it because of the glories of a single-payer system. She did it purely in despite of its best efforts to get her to quietly die.

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