Open letter to President Obama: Keep government out of health-care decisions

posted at 5:00 pm on August 19, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, I received this letter from Hot Air reader and entrepreneur Catherine Wilkinson, whom I then interviewed over the telephone.  Her daughter, Molly Kate Wilkinson, met then-President George Bush in 2004 as part of a “Miracle Child” program highlighting miracles in pediatric health care.  Molly Kate has overcome hydrocephalus and a string of surgeries to now be a straight-A student in a northern Arizona college, on her way to a nursing degree and the hope of working to help other people the way others cared for her.  I’ll have more from our interview at the end of Catherine’s story, which she tells in an open letter to President Barack Obama.

Open Letter to President Obama:

Our daughter has hydrocephalus and this chronic and incurable condition has required 58 surgeries and numerous tests and hospitalizations through out her 22 years.  I can speak to the current controversy over “health care reform” with our long experience with American health care and insurance.
I believe our current health care system, even while riddled with imperfections and purposeful corruption (mostly done by the government), is the absolute best in the world.  I would not trade one second of our experience for any other alternative system here, or anywhere else on the planet.  And I’d pay again every cent of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we (and our insurance company, a private company we contracted with by choice) paid to keep our daughter alive.  No one ever questioned our choice to do everything possible to save our daughter.  We did not have to answer to any bureaucrat why she was less valuable or viable than any other child or debate the merits or costs of countless surgeries for a condition that would certainly require more.   When she needed care, she got it immediately, without applying to an office for approval.  When we ran out of insurance (at surgery 37), we fought for another way and got it through a group healthcare plan for our business.  Which had the advantage of giving our 15 employees health care too…there are silver linings even in the worse situations.  We gave up many things for the rest of our family and our future to ensure her health care.   But, really, we would do it all again.

Caring for a chronically ill loved one is expensive, complicated, and life-altering.  It takes compromise, hard work, and diligence.   Sickness and the dispersal of treatment are not “fair” things.  Life isn’t “fair”, Mr. Obama, contrary to your rhetoric encouraging that your plan will be “fair”.  “Free” health care for all is not a right or is it realistic.  Sorry.  Someone had to tell you.  Someone will always get a little more and someone will always get a little less.  I’ve seen a child die covered by the best insurance his wealthy parents could buy.  I also have seen the sick child of an illegal immigrant be cured by  a multi-thousand dollar (tax paid) treatment and go back to his country, 2 weeks later.   Neither one of those situations is “fair”.   Each health situation is unique and specific to the patient and family.  Implementing an outrageously expensive, intrusive, and socialized (please don’t deny this…it is what it is and it’s plain to see) government program will not make life or health care “fair”.

But it will endanger patients that are chronically ill and in need of a life time of care.  Because in your attempts to make things “fair”, the fate of those patients will be decided in a classic governmental draconian manner…rationed and regulated.    Bringing healthcare under the rule of government would put my daughter and other people just like her, in great and grave danger.  Our hard choices and consequences of those choices, the ones only we, her family can make, will be taken away.  Where’s “fair” in that, sir?

One of the more glaring and troubling problems with health management in this country is the out-of-control malpractice industry.  Yet I see no mention of tort reform in the current HC3200 bill. Ever increasing and expanding liability lawsuits have directly increased the cost of liability insurance, effecting treatments, hindering research and delaying life-saving treatments and drugs from reaching the public.  My daughters’ pediatric neurosurgeon, one of the best in the country, is so burdened by his liability insurance; he has considered leaving his practice.  He has to constantly practice defensive medicine to protect himself and his own family rather than follow the true intent of the Hippocratic Oath.    Well, it appears that your presidential campaign was financed by an enormous sum of cash from trial lawyers.  It’s not difficult to see the political implications, is it?

Really, the American people are much smarter than you give them credit for and they can see exactly that.  But covering for the trial lawyers for political gain and ignoring the possibility of reform for the out-of-control liability lawsuits…I believe just that one issue justifies complete opposition to the bill and truly exposes your administration as not the way to “hope and change”.  Meaningful and immediate tort reform HAS to be included in ANY health reform bill.  Why do we need a total overhaul and government takeover of an entire health care system to achieve the basic and needed reform in these areas – fraud, waste, and tort reform?  We probably know the answer to that question and it is this:  the mission of the administration isn’t in securing “free” health care for poor people.  It’s not about “reform”…it’s about “control”.   Let’s call it for what it really is….”Healthcare Control”.  Again, you are misjudging the American citizens’ ability to see this clearly.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, but I’ll take my chances with the current system.  With all the problems (like, say, frivolous malpractice lawsuits…you may want to ask your trial lawyer buds and John Edwards about that!), it has worked just fine.  We do need some reform, but NOT at the expense of choice and definitely not a reform that brings government into every aspect of health care.  And lest you may think I’m blind to other families who don’t have insurance, consider this:   Haven’t we, as a country managed to find ways to provide healthcare for those who couldn’t pay for it?  Even for people in other countries?  We have ALWAYS done that.  Our compassion for those less fortunate arises from our freedom of choice.  We already have invented and implemented (both in the private and government sectors) good social programs that help millions of people.  And the farther they are from government intervention, the better they run.  Government intervention IS the problem.  But once we centralize healthcare through a government administered master plan, one that will complicate and de-sensitize our compassion and sense of charity, our freedom of choice is gone.  Our compassion and morality becomes legislated and soon we just won’t care about anybody else other than ourselves.  Our liberty, charity, and sense of community are lost in a bureaucratic nightmare.  Charities and other entities currently connecting needy people to health care will disappear or be sucked into the government plan, rendering them ineffective.  Doctors will move to other countries to practice medicine and start clinics in order to be free of government intervention.   Innovative new treatments and drugs will be scrutinized and regulated so excessively that the ingenuity and free enterprise that created them will be squashed.

I am quite sure that compassion and cooperation would fade away and die under the weight of the cold bureaucracy of a government entity.  Quotas, cost containment, and all the rest of the government mandates, rules, laws, etc. would effectively kill the very personal, private, and intimate interactions between patients and the entire community of health care providers.

No thank you, Mr. Obama.  I’m not taking any chances with my daughters’ health.  We, as a family, with the good and private direction of our healthcare team, have made good choices for her.  I don’t trust you or a government bureaucrat to dictate when and if she qualifies for another surgery.

Catherine Wilkinson
Prescott, AZ


Ed: I spoke for about 20 minutes with Catherine, who expressed considerable frustration with the current health-care debate, as one can easily see from her heartfelt missive above.  She explained that even with Molly Kate’s considerable pre-existing conditions, she was able to secure insurance after maxing out their first policy, thanks to the efforts of the employees of the family firm.  Catherine sees the miracle of the “Miracle Child” as that involving the efforts of people working in concert without government intervention or having to account to some official bureaucracy about the comparative effectiveness of the string of surgeries that allowed Molly Kate to contribute to society.

The picture on the post is from the 2004 meeting with President Bush.  Be sure to read the back story on that meeting at Betsy’s Page and Lorie Byrd’s blog as well.

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Outstanding letter, love the idea of publishing it in as many newspapers as possible! God Bless this Mom and family – Will this young woman make a wonderful nurse? YOU BETCHA!!!!!!

huskerdiva on August 19, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Excellent stuff Ed. May God continue to Bless the Wilkenson family. And may God protect us from our insane government.

Zorro on August 19, 2009 at 8:33 PM

Excellent post but two minutes of your life you’ll never get back based on the response. Again, fantastic post, I’m with you.

sherry on August 19, 2009 at 8:02 PM

True enough! I spend enough time around high school students that it was easy to peg the thought process and language patterns, the particular response was a near 100% probability. Some chance its fragile ego has minor bruises, but little chance that its skull is dented.

obladioblada on August 19, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Looking at non-stop pictures of Obozo on here…then all of a sudden a picture of our former president. I actually smiled and felt sad.

I miss President Bush. I honestly do !

CEA_Agent on August 19, 2009 at 10:15 PM

An open letter to Senator McConnell, Representative Ben Chandler, and other members of the House and Sentate:

I am writing to you as a constituent and as a 50 year old woman who is actually scared for my life. I am not exaggerating when I say this. I am genuinely scared for my life should any version of President Obama’s health care reform plan pass.

Let me explain.

I lost all kidney function at the age of 12 and was placed, first, on home dialysis, the only option available to me and my mother – a single, widowed mother of 4. This was before End Stage Renal Disease patients were fully covered by Medicare, so my schoolmates took up collections for me to purchase a used dialysis machine so I could continue to attend school part time, and be dialyzed at home.

I continued to dialyze at home until Thanksgiving Day of 1973, the day I received my first cadaveric kidney transplant. To encapsulate the next 39 years of my life, I will tell you that I struggled and fought a very hard fight to keep myself alive. I went through another three rounds of dialysis and had three more transplants (#1 lasted just shy of 3 years; # 2 failed immediately; # 3 lasted 10 years and # 4 is currently in it’s 18th YEAR).

Because of the immunosupression drugs taken daily to keep the kidney from rejecting my body I had bone graft surgery done on both knees and hips at the young age of 26. I had both knees replaced in 1999 and had my right hip replaced in 2005. I live daily with the pain of my left hip degenerating until it is so bad I will opt to have it replaced, too.

Another of my side affects is a propensity for skin cancer. The physician who removed and cured my last melanoma preformed a procedure on me within 2 weeks of it’s diagnosis, and told me that in Canada – a country with over 40 million citizens – there are only 14 doctors that do this particular procedure and it is proven to cure over 99.5% of cases, as opposed to normal surgery that necessitates repeated surgeries in as many as 1 in 5 cases.

How long would I have had to wait to see this doctor and have this procedure in Canada, the entire time knowing I had a malignant growth continuing to grow in the healthy cells of my face?

This is where my fear of President Obama’s plan comes in. His and the House Democrat’s version as well as most of the other versions of this “Health Care Reform Act” all make claims that health care costs will become more affordable. Choices will not be made for consumers; that everyone will ‘enjoy’ the ‘luxury’ of healthcare at the hands of Uncle Sam and everyone will live happily ever after!

However, common sense tells us that to cover the total population of the US and to do that WITHOUT raising taxes just does not add up. To do this, governmental bodies will be gathered to decide just what tests, procedures and treatments will be ‘cost effective’. Just were do you think I, as a 50 year old woman would end up, should I need to have that left hip replaced; should my 18 year old kidney decide to stop working; should I contract some sort of infection as a result of being on the immunosuppressive drugs that I take daily to keep my body from rejecting the kidney? Will I be “approved” for the hip replacement? Will I be approved to be put back on the list for another transplant after, as one misguided student doctor once said before my fourth transplant “do you realize the likelihood of receiving another kidney after having had three unsuccessful transplants?” Or will I be left to die as the 22 year old alcoholic in London because “official guidelines state that heavy drinkers must prove that they can be abstinent outside the hospital before they are considered” for liver transplant surgery. His condition was so severe that he could not be discharged to prove he could remain sober. He died July 23rd, 2009.

I don’t think that my fears are misguided or exaggerated. I know of several cases of people coming to the US to get healthcare that their own country (and government run healthcare) denied. I had a friend, a fellow kidney disease patient, a refugee from Canada’s healthcare system, explained to me how his country denied him a kidney transplant because he was not only a renal patient, he also had diabetes and was blind. He came to the US, had a transplant, and lived a fully productive life here in the states until he died many years later from other natural causes.

If you listen to the Democratic opinion of opponents of any and all healthcare reform, they are all “astroturfers”….paid and organized by right wing interests to ‘hijack’ any and all town hall meetings that might be held, instead of actual constituents that, like me, strongly oppose our government spending more and more of our hard earned tax dollars to promote what has failed people miserably across the world.

When I hear of people from other countries coming here to get procedures done that are life saving, but deemed either ineffective or too costly, from my own doctors, that scares me.

When I hear of doctors mailing flu vaccine to their doctor friends in Britain (who are employed by the Gov. run healthcare system), so they can immunize their own children because there is a strict moratorium on who can receive the flu vaccine, that scares me.

When I hear of people dying because they don’t meet government ‘standards’ to receive life saving organ transplants, as cited before, that scares me, and it should scare you as well.

The proponents of Healthcare Reform, let alone the drafters of that legislation, don’t know what is in the bill, in part because most of it has been either open to interpretation or change or because they haven’t read and had explained in detail to them what exactly certain parts of the bill mean or ‘COULD’ mean in the future.

I strongly urge you to vote against this legislation, not only because I’m scared of what it might mean to me in the not too distant future, but what it will do to our Federal deficit in the near and distant future. I am now a fully employed tax paying citizen of this country. I am not a paid mouthpiece of any right wing established lobbying group. I used to be on Medicare and as soon as I was able, got off Government healthcare and got a job with full benefits. What incentive would it be for anyone to try and get back into the workforce and become taxpaying citizens, once they are able, if free or subsidized healthcare were available to everyone, no matter their ability or disability?

Choice will not be taken away, many of the proponents claim. However when the Government makes it too costly for employers to offer healthcare benefits, what other option will be available except for the “Government Program”? Will the right to seek out a second or third opinion be moot, as all physicians will be using the same “play book” for reimbursement and standard of treatment? Will cutting edge technology be saved for only those in Government, covered by their own policies and not forced to use the “Public Plans”? Will the ability to pay “out of pocket” be criminalized as in some countries with state run programs, or will I still be able to choose to have extensive treatments not normally covered by the government at my own expense?

People who really need healthcare that can not afford it, or who are too disabled to be able to work to enjoy employee provided benefits already have state run Medicaid programs that are provided by tax payer dollars. Just about every child, in this country either legally or illegally, is covered by their state’s run CHIP Programs.

Many of these proposed pieces of legislation will make it against the law to NOT have health insurance. How many college students and young healthy adults will I be subsidizing with my tax dollars for coverage that most will not use until much later in their lives?

I could go on and on citing the many reasons I, personally am opposed to any of the proposals on the table, but I keep hearing the same few from the people who are actually in favor of it.

I think if one were to sit down and actually compile a Pros and Cons list, being blatantly honest, I think you would see that the Cons far outweigh the Pros….by the trillions (if you count every tax dollar spent to attempt to fund this.)


Riberto on August 19, 2009 at 11:03 PM

OOPS! Sentate…Senate

I actually CAN spell!

Riberto on August 19, 2009 at 11:15 PM

both above –from a short Polish woman

Riberto on August 19, 2009 at 11:16 PM

Her letter is an inspiration to me. We just got back from a town hall meeting with Pete Sessions (R-TX) in which we had to listen to countless stories from the left. I would have loved to be able to recite her letter verbatim to these idiotic people that frankly I don’t even know if half of their stories are true. I am truly worried about our rights as individuals when you have such an ill informed public dictating what I should succumb to.

Aggie85 on August 19, 2009 at 11:47 PM

Something doesn’t add up here. How can she get coverage with the pre-existing conditions? It means that the insurer purposefully underpriced the cost of the insurance because it knew that the premiums would be less than the clearly expected actual cost of care and/or it means that everyone else in the plan voluntarily decided to cover that price difference.

mycowardice on August 20, 2009 at 1:15 AM

let us see the plan before it is passed into law. let us vote on it. that would be representing the people.
let the people tell you their ideas, meld them into a coherent, cost effective plan.
get rid of the current insurance(means more unemployment) but we can retrain: we need more healthcare workers.
make it a credit/debit insurance account you own; a percent can go into a community account for those with worse conditions than average person, rest can be a savings account earning interest for your own medical care throughout your life. if you remain healthy, you have one hell of a savings account to add to your retirement.
it can be passed on to family, or through a will to anyone.
it needs to be completely tax free. you can contribute any amount above a set annual requirement you want to earn more interest, reduce your taxes, etc.
this puts the cost control in the user’s hands.
the more we control our lives, the better our lives will be.
like any of this? what else can you think of?

mydogwonthunt on August 20, 2009 at 1:30 AM

Eloquently written; As is the imperfect system of government; The imperfect system of health care administration.
But, the Obama Mafioso will make this “A More Perfect Union”.

Cybergeezer on August 20, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Excellent stuff Ed. May God continue to Bless the Wilkenson family. And may God protect us from our insane government.

Zorro on August 19, 2009

I wish to add a loud and heartfelt amen to your prayer.

SKYFOX on August 20, 2009 at 9:53 AM