November 12, 2009
Ronald Reagan once joked, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
Well, the Gipper was wrong. I have 12 even more terrifying words: "I'm the government's health care choices commissioner. Let me see your insurance policy."
You see, the health care choices commissioner will be the head of just one of the 111 new government agencies created by the mammoth health care reform bill, which passed the House last Saturday by the narrowest of margins.
Unless you've read all of the nearly 2,000 pages of the bill, you might not have heard of the health care choices commissioner. But there is a lot more in this bill you've never heard about as well.
For example, as Bill Pear writes in the New York Times, supporters of gay rights included an amendment that would lower taxes for gay couples, ensuring tax-free health care benefits for an employee's same-sex partner. This was never debated on the floor, nor was it passed as a tax measure. It was just swept up into what has become the health care grab bag. So chalk one up for the gay lobby.
Then there's a provision requiring vending machines to post calorie counts for the goodies they offer. And fast food chains will have to provide a "calorie count for each standard menu item." Health care reform?
The bill also has new programs such as grants for home visitation programs, in which nurses and social workers can coach new mothers on parenting practices and teach them how to interact with their child "to enhance age-appropriate development."
Like most of the congressmen, I haven't read these provisions, so I'm not sure who gets to decide what "age-appropriate interaction with children" is. But I'm not sure I want the government making those kind of decisions—telling parents how to interact with their kids.
I'm all for health care reform. Adequate health care is too expensive for too many. If we could clean up Medicaid and Medicare and provide health care subsidies for the working poor, I and a lot of other people would be dancing in the streets.
Now, the House members deserve some credit. They fought for, and won, pro-life provisions in the House bill.
But it's all now up for grabs in the Senate. Hopefully, the Senate will come up with a more responsible bill, which does not add a trillion dollars to debt, and which does not put the government in absolute control of our health care. The biggest issue to me is whether the government ultimately makes life-and-death medical decisions.
We've seen glimpses of this already. Just look at Florida's plan to combat a potential swine flu emergency. The state's approach to treating patients will be "the greatest good for the greatest number." But this utilitarian approach is a potential death sentence for the elderly and those with disabilities.
I urge you to go to the ColsonCenter.org and view this week's installment of the Two-Minute Warning, where I talk about the dangers of utilitarianism—especially as it relates to health care. And you can download some very valuable free materials.
I wouldn't be so concerned if this health care reform bill were just another example of bad legislation. But I fear much more is at stake. A government that decides who lives and who dies is no longer a government of the people and by the people. And it's certainly not a government for the people.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.