Emotions are high in the debate over the future of our health care, and for good reason. What we are discussing are deeply personal, often deeply emotional issues.
Americans are troubled by what we’re hearing from Washington because we don’t want government to dictate these deeply personal, deeply emotional decisions. Especially those decisions that come near the end of life.
Like so many Americans, I know this from personal experience.
My father-in-law recently passed a few years ago. It was a tragic, grief-filled event. But in the end, my father-in-law, his doctors and his family controlled the care he received. Not a bureaucrat. Not an impersonal panel of government “experts.”
That’s why this debate is so emotional.
The Model for End of Life Care
I think every American should have the opportunity my father-in-law had to have a conversation with their doctor about end of life care that is totally private, in which there are no standards set by the government and no fear of the bureaucracy.
We had that kind of an experience at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, where my father-in-law died.
At Gunderson — without any mandates from government — 92 percent of patients have advanced directives setting out what kind of care they want at the end of life.
Patients are treated with compassion, dignity and humanity. Families are engaged. Doctors are allowed to do what they think is best for patients, without fearing that the federal government is looking over their shoulders.
Health Care Isn’t Politics. It’s Personal.
End-of-life care is becoming a political football — and that’s precisely why so many Americans are fearful for the future of their health care.
Because it’s not politics. It’s personal.
And the test of any health care reform proposal is whether it gives us more power to control deeply personal decisions, or whether it takes that power away.
What follows is an article I wrote for the Los Angeles Times this weekend that explains how health care reform in Washington threatens to take us down the road to government control, and what we can do to stop it.
Newt’s Quick Links
• You can also watch me explain the benefits of private end of life care versus government imposed decisions in this video.