Monday, August 10, 2009

Mike Solo of Michigan. Remember that name. He is an emerging hero in the complex, contentious and often contradictory conversation this nation is having over healthcare reform. Solo dared to challenge healthcare bill proponent, Michigan Democrat Congressman John Dingell, asking why healthcare for his wheelchair-bound son would be basically eliminated under the proposed legislation. Dingell said not to worry, he would propose an amendment to the bill to insure care for Americans with special needs. That prompted catcalls and boos from the town hall audience.
Why was such an amendment not already included Congressman Dingell? Why is healthcare for those with special needs even in question? I have a vested interest in the answer since I care for a 54-year old son with cerebral palsy and multiple other disabilities. And I'm past 65.
The answer to this ethical question over providing healthcare for the elderly and those with special needs may lie in the person of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the older brother of White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. President Obama appointed Dr. Emanuel as health policy advisor to the Office of Budget and Management.
Dr. Emanuel's views on rationing healthcare are well known. He has written several books. Here is a sample of his thinking. "Allocation by age is not invidious discrimination," wrote Dr. Emanuel. Translation: the younger you are, the more priority you should have to healthcare services.
"Every person lives through different life stages," said Dr. Emanuel, who reasons that every person who is 65 was once 25. So, by that reasoning, if you are 65 or older, you better start drawing up a bucket list quick if this fiasco of a healthcare proposal passes.
Dr. Emanuel also reasons healthcare should not be wasted on those "who are irreversibly prevented from becoming participating citizens." Translation: those with special needs, aka, my son, and my cousin's oldest son, who is severely autistic.
Putting a priority on a bucket list should doubly apply to Congressman Dingell. He's 84, and is walking on two knee replacements, compliments of the taxpayer provided healthcare enjoyed by members of Congress, and I might add, by the President and many of his top advisors.
Dr. Emanuel also believes doctors should chuck the Hippocratic oath in favor of social justice. Translation: healthcare priority for the youngest and most productive among us.
This is the man who is President Obama's top advisor on healthcare policy. What is more shocking, he has the stamp of approval of the American Medical Association, to which less than a third of American doctors now belong because of the AMA's liberal leanings.
And this bill is also endorsed by the Association of Retired Persons. Yes, the AARP, that great representative of the needs and rights of the elderly in this country. But backing Obamacare could come back to poke a hole in the AARP's pocketbook. If the elderly no longer survive much beyond 65, who will buy all those insurance plans the AARP hawks on television?
Mike Solo of Michigan - you are my hero. Don't be cowed or frightened by having police remove you and your son from a place that should exemplify American free speech - the town hall meeting. You spoke for your son who cannot speak for himself. Your courage and conviction made Congressman Dingell look old and very wrong.
It is the Mike Solos of this world who must speak for all the sons and daughters who cannot speak for themselves because of a tragedy of birth.
Mike Solo's son is an American citizen. My son votes and follows closely every election cycle and every candidate.
Congressman Dingell and his ilk have lost sight of the values on which this country was founded - the right to life, to live that life free, and to pursue happiness. Our founding fathers did not ordain that the "young and productive" take priority. Their view of American values was every man was created equal.
And may I be so bold as to remind Dr. Emanuel that one of the signers of the document in which those values were so eloquently encapsulated - the Declaration of Independence - was signed by Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who happened to be 70-years old in July, 1776.

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