Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may be denied medical treatment for his heart disease under his own proposed “Medicare for All” program. Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, outlined the possible scenario in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Sanders underwent emergency heart surgery on Tuesday in which he had two stents inserted to treat a blocked artery, recalled Pollak, asking Orient if the 78-year-old senator with heart disease would receive medical treatment for his condition within a “Medicare for All” framework.
“Medicare for all really means Medicare for nobody,” replied Orient. “It would vacuum up all the funds in the Medicare trust fund as well as all the other federal funding that goes into medical care for everybody and put everybody into the same pot, and then you have to decide how to fairly allocate those resources.”
Utilitarian distribution of resources within a state-run healthcare system, explained Orient, may deny heart treatment to someone like Sanders, drawing on the propositions of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an advocate of centrally-planned health care.
“Now, Bernie Sanders is 78 years old,” said Orient, “and there was a famous article in the Atlantic by Ezekiel Emanuel, who was one of the architects of the ACA — the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — saying … he hoped to die at age 75.”
Orient continued, “[Ezekiel Emanuel also said] that certainly after [age 75] he would not be getting any aggressive medical treatment. He wouldn’t get treatment for cancer. He wouldn’t get open-heart surgery, because, well, he’d already lived a good life, and after that, you’re kind of just going downhill.”
Emanuel co-wrote an outline for a centrally-planned health care apparatus in 2009 entitled, “Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions,” articulating his utilitarian vision for maximization of “social usefulness.”
Orient stated, “The Complete Lives System that came out in the British medical journal the Lancet in 2009 talked about how society should really concentrate its resources on people between the ages of 15 and 40, because before you’re 15, society hasn’t invested all that much in you, and after 40, you’re kind of really going on the downhill slope, so since there aren’t enough goods to go around and there certainly won’t be enough — there will be less and less — if we have socialism, then we have to decide who gets priority.”
Orient assessed how Sanders might be regarded within his own proposed healthcare system.
A “Medicare for All” system would likely deprioritize allocation of medical resources to “a 78-year-old man with heart disease [and] bad arteries [who is] likely to have other emergencies in the future” in favor of “taking care of younger people,” assessed Orient, drawing on Emanuel’s utilitarian ethos.
Orient estimated, “If [Bernie Sanders] were in Canada, under the Canadian system, he might have died, or he might have made a quick trip to Detroit or Seattle or some other place close to the Canadian border to get his cardiac [catheterization] and his stent placed in an American hospital.”
“We’ve got [catheterization] labs all over the place, but under socialized medicine, the sophisticated facilities are much rarer, and sometimes their equipment is shabby and outdated and too dangerous to use, but that’s what you get when you’re focusing on population instead of trying to do the best you can for all of your patients,” added Orient.
Orient addressed a frequent refrain she encounters during her discourses on health care.
“Every time I give a talk, there’s somebody in the audience who says, ‘The Canadians really love their system,’ but the Canadians who really love it are mostly those who never have to use it,” Orient stated. “Those who need urgent care will either suffer or even die or they will come to the United States or some other place to get timely treatment.”
Orient continued, “Some Canadians think that’s just fine, that’s just part of being socially responsible, but a lot of them say, ‘It’s my health, it’s my money, why shouldn’t I be able to use my hard-earned money to provide something better for myself?'”
Mansour invited Orient’s recommendations for healthcare system reform.
“I think we need to get back to the concept of insurance, which is like car insurance and homeowners’ insurance,” replied Orient. “You don’t expect it to pay for every little thing. With Canadian [health care], you don’t want to go to the hospital to get a kidney removed, but you sure want to go to the doctor for every little thing, because after all, you’ve paid through the nose in your taxes and you want to get your money’s worth, so there’s a huge demand for services that are really not necessary, but are not really painful or dangerous, and those are the ones that will drive up the cost.”
Orient went on, “I mean, to have insurance for a flu shot, what could be more ridiculous? It probably doubles or triples the cost. It adds a claims processing fee to every single transaction, and it creates a moral hazard for everybody. Those doctors or hospitals can raise their fees because they figure a patient won’t care. The patient doesn’t need to look at the price tag because the insurance company is supposed to pay. The insurance companies don’t care that they’re paying out big claims because they can just raise the premiums, so you get into this merry-go-round, and the only way to really stop it is to stop the third-party payment which is such a moral hazard.”
“People should be paying for most medical bills out of pocket,” concluded Orient. “It’s cheaper. It puts them in control of things. They get better care that way, and that way you can have insurance that really works instead of having a gatekeeper standing at the door trying to deny you things that you really do need.”
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.