Here’s an exchange on CNN, in which a desperate woman tries to explain her plight to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., at a health-care town hall meeting. Watch it:
“Senator Coburn, we need help,” she says. “My husband has traumatic brain injury. His health insurance will not cover him to eat and drink. And what I need to know is, are you going to help him, where he can eat and drink? We left the nursing home, and they told us we were on our own.”
Those words, written on the page or screen, do not convey the anguish in her voice or in her heart. Based on her description of the situation, an insurance company is rationing care. It is denying him the assistance that he apparently needs to live, a decision made and confirmed by insurance company bureaucrats and lawyers, not by the man’s doctor. Those bureaucrats and lawyers, you might say, constitute what some might call a “death panel.” This, in a country where supposedly no one goes without health care, where we have the best health care in the world.
The reaction from Coburn, a physician and probably the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate, is telling, as is the astute observation at the close of the segment from CNN anchor Rick Sanchez.