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Medical rationing for thee, not me 

There's an interview that all Americans should see before they decide whether they really want government-run health care. During ABC News' on-air health care forum with President Obama last month, a doctor asked Obama to pledge that he wouldn't seek care banned under a government-run health plan, even if it meant allowing a member of his family to die.

"In the past, politicians who have sought to reform health care have tried to limit costs by reducing tests, access to specialists, but they've not been good at taking their own medicine," Dr. Orrin Devinsky said to Obama. "When they or their family members get sick, they often get extremely expensive evaluations and expert care. If a national health plan was approved and your family participated, and President Obama, if your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that reasonably could be done, and you sought out opinions from medical leaders and major centers, and they said there's another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions? Or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and a husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?"

It's the central question every American must answer because if the health plan before Congress passes, the government will have final say in what both government-approved insurance plans and the public plan cover. And since you would be forced to buy a government-approved insurance plan or pay a fine, this applies to those who have insurance now. Only the rich -- who can afford to have a gold-plated plan that isn't government-approved and pay the fine for not having the stripped-down government approved plan -- will have access to all the medical treatments of today and the advances of the future, not just those deemed "cost effective" by the government.

It is also an important question for members of Congress and the president, who will be exempt from the national plan and remain on a gold-plated Congressional one. (Union members, who did much of the poll-working, door-knocking, get-out-the-vote work that got Obama elected in the 2008 cycle, will also be exempt from forced membership in the government plan.)

Though Obama was asked the question three times, including two follow-ups by ABC's Charlie Gibson, he dodged it and did not make the pledge. Curiously, Obama didn't take another route either. He could have denied that there would be rationing, that all the life-saving medical procedures we currently use to keep people alive will be available to everyone, but he didn't. That spoke volumes. So did recent votes in the Senate committee preparing the health care bill against three amendments by Republicans that would have banned rationing.

But Obama has answered the rationing question before. In a May 2009 New York Times article, he said he personally would have paid for the hip replacement his grandmother, who has terminal cancer, had if her health plan hadn't covered it.

Obama then explained that other people couldn't expect that we would keep doing this for their grandmothers and that a bureaucratic committee should "democratically" provide "guidance" as to whether sick patients get hip transplants or spend their final months or days bed-ridden to save money.

"I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she's my grandmother," Obama told the Times. "Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else's aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they're terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question. If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn't have a hip replacement and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life -- that would be pretty upsetting."

Fortunately Obama, his family, Congress and union members won't have to worry about making such agonizing decisions.

And the rest of us?

"I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists," Obama said to the Times. "And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group."

That would be some independent group that doesn't know or love the members of your family like you do.

Think the government won't ration lifesaving medical procedures under a universal coverage plan? To pay for the national plan, Congress has already begun rationing. What else do you call wringing "savings" out of Medicare by cutting billions of dollars of funding for unnecessary, useless medical procedures like ... MRIs, one of the most effective diagnostic tools known to medicine? Next year, a more drastic cut will begin to slice current Medicare funding for MRIs in half.

Got a little potential internal bleeding?

Take an aspirin and know you are dying for your country.

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