Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted a story about a computer error at the Veteran’s Administration that resulted in 1200 veterans erroneously being told they were dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a 100% fatal condition. Ed Morrissey points out:
“The notifications went out in a letter intending to inform ALS sufferers about the benefits available to them through the VA. At that time, one of those benefits was end-of-life counseling and access to “Your Life, Your Choices,” the booklet that refers veterans to the Hemlock Society when they feel life is no longer worth living. I wonder how many of these veterans were given the booklet?”
We have all had some sort of adventure with bureaucracy, whether it be the state registry of motor vehicles, the post office, or (gasp) the IRS. We need to remember these experiences as we consider whether we should turn our health care over to a large bureaucracy. The frustrations of dealing with the post office, the registry of motor vehicles, or the IRS are nothing compared to the life-and-death issues healthcare involves. What would have happened if the coding error that caused the veterans to be told they had a fatal disease had not been found? What would have happened if a former soldier who thought he was dying decided to seek end-of-life counseling? There are states in this country where assisted suicide is legal. This could have been a problem much bigger than waiting in line at the post office or registry of motor vehicles.
There are small steps that can be taken to reform healthcare–making insurance accessible to everyone at a reasonable cost, tort reform, changes regarding pre-existing conditions, and the ability to buy healthcare across state lines. None of these changes require the 1100 page monstrosity that is currently being proposed.