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

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.