When the president of the United States has to declare in a public forum that he doesn't want to pull the plug on grandma, you know the health care proposal is in deep trouble. The truth is that when the federal government runs health care, people will receive procedures on their perceived value to the government and an 80-year-old grandma doesn't stack up too well as a source of potential future tax revenues.

With limited resources (and with 43 million new people clamoring for "free" medical services, no doubt there would be major limitations) the bureaucrats who would be making those life and death determinations under the plan proposed in Congress would necessarily have to rationalize what care was allotted to people based on some criteria. The criteria would likely be "remaining life expectancy." I don't think they could get away with "Hip replacements only for those with last names between A and Q" or "People in states west of the Mississippi can get coronary bypass operations while people east of the Mississippi can get heart pacemakers."

At 59, I don't imagine that the government will want to invest a lot in me, either. In England (where the government has run health care since right after World War II) I'm at the cutoff age for any heart procedures. So, if I have any heart problems I might be prescribed low-dose aspirin tablets and the (now infamous) "end of life counseling." Currently, heart problems are handled routinely with procedures or surgery no matter


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what your age. People tend to forget that our current health care system is by far the best in the world.

I recently visited the offices of Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, to bring his staff a summary of the provisions of the current health care proposal that cited the page numbers in the actual legislation. At an earlier visit the staff seemed to be totally ignorant of what was in the proposed health care legislation. This time they handed me a rebuttal paper that did not contain any quotes from the actual legislation. Of course, they could not cite such quotes since the bill actually contains all of the bad things you have heard about ... and more. It is curious that people who are opposed to the health care bill urge people to "read the bill as written" while those who want it passed tend to ask people to "trust me ... I'll tell you what it says."

Perhaps the most telling thing about the health care proposal is that Congress members expressly exempt themselves from the plan ... just like they exempted themselves from Social Security. If the health care plan is so darned good, why don't they go on it for a few years before imposing it on us? I can visualize Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, when instead of his getting treatment for prostate cancer provided by the private health insurance that covers congressmen, he gets the public option that refers him to an "end of life counselor"... a soon-to-be-important official health care job that is created in this legislation. "Perhaps we can interest you in a cup of hemlock, Senator Dodd?"

Back to granny. The proposed legislation doesn't really provide for granny's immediate demise. What it would ultimately do, however is give Congress the power to say, "If the American people object to our latest tax increase ... granny doesn't get the pacemaker she needs to stay alive." In my mind that would give Congress the ultimate power and gone would be freedom as we have known it in the United States. Why are the "peasants with pitchforks" showing up in droves at tea parties and Congressional town hall meetings? Because not only is granny's life at stake ... so is our freedom.

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Ed Riffle owns and operates a small business and is the writer for and co-publisher of www.OurLittleCornfield.com.