Two weeks ago, my wife flew with me to Chicago for knee replacement surgery. I've been running, running, running for over 50 years, staying in shape and enjoying competitive basketball, racquetball, tennis, squash, and when I couldn't get into some kind of game, just jogging.
All this activity kept my weight under control and made me feel lots younger than I was, but the constant impact eventually crushed my knee cartilage into a mangled, painful memory.
I'd heard about an innovative orthopedic surgeon named Richard Berger, operating at Rush University Medical Center, who replaced knees and hips without severing muscles or tendons, thus greatly reducing the pain of the surgery and therapy, and shortening recovery time dramatically. If I had to have a knee replacement, I sure wanted him to do it.
So I obtained his contact info, called an able assistant, made an appointment to fly from L.A. when I could shake loose, and got the deed done. Fortunately for me, Dr. Berger and his wife claimed to be fan of my music, and though he was completely scheduled into next July, he wedged me into the days I could conveniently manage. Great, right?
It was great. Dr. Berger operated on me at 7:30 a.m. on a Tuesday; his nurse fed me some nice soup around noon; an aide got me up to walk 150 steps down the hall and back, up and down 10 stairs, and told me I could go back to our hotel! I experienced no pain, then or during the next two days at the hotel, even during the early in-room therapy, and none during the flight home on Friday. I took no pain-killer after Friday morning, and haven't had any since, and the only pain I've felt has been the occasional stabbing alert that I'm pushing too hard during some therapy maneuver. And just two weeks after incision, I'm walking without a cane and headed back toward the tennis court in a couple more weeks or so. Amazing!
Now, contrast that with some following true examples of a socialized medical system, the kind that some of our leading presidential candidates want to inflict on all Americans, if we fall for their sales pitch. They're not planning on providing a kindly family doctor or a surgeon of our choosing when we need one; they want the big brother government to decide if, and when, and who, and what kind of treatment we'll get if we're lucky enough to get any treatment at all.
Imagine going to a hospital seeking treatment for chronic, severe pain, and being turned away because the hospital's chief of staff doesn't like your political views.
Imagine being denied hip or knee surgery or kidney dialysis because hospital bureaucrats think you're too old or overweight, or because there are just too many other, seemingly "more deserving"? candidates waiting in line.
How about having your request for a special drug treatment needed to save your life rejected because it's "too expensive?" Yet your health plan covers sex change operations that can run over $35,000! And, more nightmarish, your plan also covers tattoo removal for a sex-change patient at almost the same cost you need to save your life so he might look more attractive in sleeveless dresses!
According to the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., these outrages aren't made up; they're actual cases that have occurred (and many more like them) in "more progressive"? countries that have instituted the very kind of government-run universal health care socialized medicine that left-wing activists and liberals like Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi are determined to push through our Congress and set up for you and me, whether we want it or not.
Michael Moore and his propaganda film "Sicko"? to the contrary, America's free market healthcare system is still the best in the world. And though any propagandist can cherry-pick some testimonies from people who speak glowingly of their universal coverage?, a more careful survey reveals countless more stories, in the same countries, of rationed and arbitrary healthcare, denial of essential services, deadly waiting list periods stretching into months, mediocre medicine and attention often bringing unnecessary suffering and even death.
In Wakefield, England, 6-year-old Levi Ringer died because National Health Service doctors failed to diagnose his brain tumor, despite eight visits to the hospital over a seven-month period. Why? They wouldn't order a brain scan. They sent him home with migraine medications, even suggested he had behavioral problems and might need to see a psychiatrist.
In London, Airport worker Dunil Ameida died early this year because National Heath Service doctors failed to diagnose his disease after 50 hospital visits, finding no clue he was suffering from bowel cancer.
In Saskatchewan, Canada, parents of 18-month-old Paige Hansen, who had stopped walking, developed swollen limbs, and screamed in pain, were told by government healthcare workers they would have to wait three weeks for a bone scan for their little girl. Though the workers themselves saw and heard the child screaming, the answer was "No; wait your turn." When the desperate Hansens finally took little Paige to another city, she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
In Canada, the government deems it illegal to seek private healthcare services! Yet the Canadian Supreme Court (You missed this, did you, Mr. Moore?) ruled in June 2005 that their health system was so bad it actually violates Canadians' basic human rights! And 12 percent of Canadian physicians and 4 percent of nurses believe they've had patients die due to healthcare waiting lines!
There's a lot more to this story, and it will impact every American sooner or later. I intend to dig deeper into facts, and do my best to convey them to as many of my fellow citizens as possible. Meanwhile, may I suggest you visit the National Center for Public Policy Research Web site, www.nationalcenter.org, and you'll read for yourself the substantive comparison between the freedom of choice and quality of treatment we already have and what Pelosi and company are determined we'll switch to.
My trip to Chicago, the immediate availability of a top pro like Dr. Berger, and my looking forward to tennis again in a month or so have occasioned this writing. I want all Americans to have such possibilities within their reach, and we can do it without turning it over to Big Brother government.
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