01 Oct 2009 Ezekiel Emanuel Must Go
I’ll never forget the morning our son wouldn’t wake up.
It was three days after Thanksgiving and getting late. I hadn’t heard a peep from my eldest son, Jonathan, so I tried to roust him out of bed.
But he wouldn’t wake up. He had no reaction, no body movement, not even a twitch of his eyelids. His respiration seemed shallow, but at least he was breathing.
My wife called 911. Within minutes we were speeding to the hospital. In the ambulance, Jon continued to be unresponsive, showing no reaction even when the paramedics inserted an intravenous drip into his hand.
I remember how my wife and I worried about so many different possibilities.
Had our son fallen and hit his head during the night? Could he have consumed a household chemical or prescription medication? Or had something even worse occurred?
One thing we didn’t worry about was his access to medical care. We knew the ambulance would arrive promptly, that Jonathan wouldn’t be turned away because of a bed shortage and that he’d receive quality care.
We also knew Jonathan wouldn’t be denied needed care because of who he is.
But that could change for my son and a lot of kids like him if President Obama’s health care plan is approved.
You see, Jonathan is severely autistic. Under a government-run system, this could send him to the back of the line for medical care.
We may never know for certain what happened to our son that day, but doctors believe his body shut down after he suffered a major seizure.
Three hours after the ordeal began, Jonathan opened his eyes just as technicians were preparing to give him a CAT scan. He wasn’t happy. It took me and two nurses to hold him down. He screamed, he kicked and he even tried to bite us to avoid being sent down the scary tube.
No dad likes to see his child misbehave, but I knew at that moment he would be okay.
Now my wife and I worry about his future.
We’re concerned that the president’s plan will move us closer to the government controlling health care. That’s what the public option – and its re-branding as a “co-op” – is really about.
Government health care always means rationing.
Barack Obama may consider himself “The One,” but he can’t expand health insurance by 46 million without increasing costs or rationing care any more than he can feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple of small fish.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who holds two top health care positions in the administration and is chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s brother, has admitted this, saying, “Vague promises of savings from prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely ‘lipstick’ cost control…”
Emanuel believes true cost control will require teaching physicians to “provide socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” That is, one’s value to government could determine health care access. He has written, “Covering services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens… should not be guaranteed.”
He’s also suggested that people between 15 and 40 “get the most substantial chance” for care because older people have relatively fewer years to contribute to society while the very young haven’t yet received substantial investments, such as education.
If Emanuel’s views prevail, our son’s future access to medical care could be at risk.
At age 9, Jonathan can’t talk or take care of any of his basic needs. He may never become a “participating citizen” or a citizen government regards as valuable, but Jonathan is valuable to me, my wife and our family. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do to protect him.
We’re not asking government to provide our son’s medical care. We just don’t want it to destroy the private insurance through which he receives care now, and don’t want to be forced to rely on a government health system which could judge him “unworthy” of treatment.
Measuring one’s worth is what they do in countries with socialized medicine.
In Canada, children with autism have been denied therapy after the age of six because government bean-counters believe it isn’t worth the cost.
In a British government hospital, a 43-year-old man with Down Syndrome who could not speak up for himself needlessly died after he wasn’t fed for 26 days.
In New Zealand, patients over 72 years of age were denied kidney dialysis until a public outcry forced the government to reverse itself.
As a dad, I find Emanuel’s views frightening. I know many Americans with special needs kids share my view.
The Obama administration denies children like my son would be harmed by its plan, but so long as Emanuel remains in the administration, few of us will be convinced.
Ezekiel Emanuel must go. He should be “irreversibly prevented from being or becoming a participating citizen” in this debate.
David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington, DC-based think tank.