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Just Take A Painkiller 10/30/2009

Health care nightmare

People will get lost
in the bureaucratic
mountain of health care.


I am happy to tell you that I returned home from the hospital today. Last week, I developed a painful staph infection after my recent hip replacement surgery. On Saturday, I checked into the hospital and the doctor, nurses and other medical experts began working on me. We were not only in a fight for my hip, but also for my life. I won't go into all of the unpleasant details, but suffice to say that I am extremely grateful for the medical care I received.

I will be at home recuperating for several weeks and somewhat limited in my mobility, but I probably would not be alive if it were not for God's grace, the prayers of family and friends, along with the American health care system, which I believe is the best in the world. My surgeon called numerous infectious diseases specialists and I now have access to all of them. A nurse will be coming to my house to help administer the treatment that will fully eradicate the staph infection from my blood and body. So it seems ironic that I return home on the day that the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" has been made public.

This bureaucratic nightmare is over 1900 pages long. If I were to print it out, it would be 9 inches tall and weigh 19 pounds. The Congressional Budget Office says it will cost at least $1 trillion. That's not a hundred-million dollars, a thousand-million dollars, ten-thousand-million dollars or even a hundred-thousand-million -- that's one-million-million dollars. And we all know that government estimates are always low.

I know what good medical care looks like. I've lived it for the last week. I also know what bad medical care looks like. Much of my life has been dedicated to bringing better medical care to the poorest people around the world. I've seen medical clinics in Africa and surgical rooms in China. So I know the difference.

Let me tell you the story of Hope. On one of my first trips to China, we met a beautiful little girl in an orphanage that didn't seem to know how difficult her life was. She had no parents, lived in conditions that Americans would find appalling, suffered from hepatitis and she was blind. Yet she smiled and even sang. Naturally, Betty and I were drawn to Hope. She smiled and touched my face with her little finger. We held her and showed her to audiences around the world. A couple in Michigan saw her story and started the lengthy process of adoption. Eventually, they were able to adopt Hope and brought her to the United States.

One of the first things they did was to take Hope to an American doctor. After several surgeries, our great medical system was able to restore some of her vision. Though once blind, Hope now sees. Her vision is not perfect, but she was able to attend school, learn and graduate from college. Hope's story is much more than a lesson in healthcare, but it does emphasize one important fact: America's health care system is one of the best in the world, if not the very best.

Ironically, China could have one of the best health care systems in the world, but they don't. It's not because they don't have money. Their economy has been growing significantly for the past two decades. It's not because they don't have intelligent health care professionals. Some of the brightest doctors in the world are Chinese, but they tend to leave their country. The problem with China's healthcare system, and really all of their problems, can be summed up in one word: bureaucracy.

Every dollar that government receives -- whether in China, the United States or any country -- returns diminished. For example, if you were a supporter of the arts and gave $100 to a museum, that museum would receive $100. But if the government taxed you $100 in order to support the arts, that same museum would not receive $100. I doubt they would even receive $80 or $90. I would guess that it would be in the $50-$60 range, though I don't precisely know. The point is that government bureaucracy does not create wealth; it destroys it.

This is the problem in China. Half of the people work for the government, so the bureaucracy is enormous. Everybody wants their slice of the pie, but nobody wants to actually bake one. Now that model is coming to America. No, I am not suggesting that we are turning into a communist country. I am simply pointing out the irrefutable fact that government-run healthcare will create a bigger bureaucracy. A bigger bureaucracy means more fingers in the pie -- more pie takers and fewer pie makers. That means there will be less to eat for you and me. Sure, more people may get a crumb, but more people will merely get crumbs.

The problem with health care today is that lawyers, government regulators and insurance companies have burdened the medical system with bureaucracy and, therefore, unnecessary expense. If we want to improve healthcare, we need to eliminate the unnecessary bureaucracy. Instead, we are going to multiply the bureaucracy. Common sense should tell you that this will only make things worse.

To me, a bigger bureaucracy means that when I needed surgery to drain a staph infection out of my leg and receive six weeks of intravenous antibiotics, the government could have told me that I'd have been better off taking a painkiller. Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor and a current presidential adviser on health care, says that an honest politician promoting meaningful health care reform would tell people, "If you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die." (Hear the actual speech on YouTube.)

To me, this kind of thinking defies all that the Bible teaches about the importance of honoring and respecting the elderly. Our lack of spiritual wisdom is affecting every aspect of society, including an issue as important as healthcare. We need to look at older citizens as a potential wealth of knowledge, not as a corner to cut to save a few dollars. Many needy people will be left in pain while simply trying to comply with government regulations and complete all of the paperwork! Our medical experts do not need to be taken away from patient care in order to please the ruling bureaucracy.

I do not want the government making my medical decisions for me. I do not want a bureaucrat deciding what I do and do not need. I like the Senators from my state, but I do not want them standing in the way of medical progress. I know how expensive good medical care is, but I know that when government gets a cut of all of my medical expenses, the cost goes up and the quality goes down. They can't even run a "cash for clunkers" program without messing it up. What in the world makes them think they can run healthcare?

I plan on being around for many more years -- decades, in fact. And I'm counting on God and a dedicated medical community to help me achieve this goal. I also want my children and grandchildren to have even better health care. The new legislation may claim to make health care more affordable, which is debatable, but there's one thing for sure: it will make it worse. We need some health care reform, but beware of this "hurry up, everyone shut up" approach.

Author: James Robison

Editor: Randy Robison

Word Count: 1293

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.