When Cynthia Rice told me, “I wouldn’t want to wish this upon anybody, especially with all the complications,” she was referring to the long and challenging road she and Jim, her husband of 16 years, have traveled prior to and following his successful liver transplant operation March 21, 2006. After speaking with her at their St. Louis home Tuesday (see video), I’m convinced the same sentiment applies to the government-run health care legislation signed into law this week by President Barack Obama.
The transplant became necessary long before anyone knew about ObamaCare and only five months after Jim, then 52, was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis, inflammation in the liver that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks his own liver.
Prior to the onset of symptoms during the summer of 2005, Jim weighed 185 pounds and was an active tennis player, said Cynthia, de facto spokesperson for the couple. By the time of his diagnosis, neighbors had begun to notice changes in Jim’s appearance and asked if he had some sort of cancer.
In addition to retaining excessive amounts of fluid in his body, he began to have other serious problems — including hallucinations and the inability to perform even the most mundane tasks — that resulted from his liver’s inability to cleanse his system of toxins, including ammonia. After some prodding by Cynthia, he agreed to see a doctor.
“When we were first told (about Jim’s need for a transplant), we were both very resistant to the idea, because we knew it would be very expensive,” Cynthia said, “but our private insurance came through for us just fantastically. We received excellent care from the hospital where he received the transplant.”
Did she say private health insurance provided quality care for Jim despite the fact that he had changed jobs only nine months before the transplant operation and only a handful of months before symptoms surfaced for the first time? Cynthia confirmed her statement, then we talked about ObamaCare.
Cynthia offered a plethora of reasons why she opposes the new law and hopes Republicans in Congress are somehow able to repeal it. Many stem from her anxiety about the future and what could have happened to her husband had his illness struck after ObamaCare had became law. Among them, level of care, quality of care and whether he’d even be given treatments.
“While he can function normally, that’s only because his body is tricked into thinking that this liver is his,” she explained. “The problem is that these (anti-rejection) medications are very expensive and, without insurance, they would cost us $20,000 a year.”
Careful to note that she wasn’t singling out ObamaCare but government-run health care programs in general, she went on to note that her objections lie in the fact that “wherever there has been government-run health care, socialized medicine or whatever you want to call it, whether that be in other countries or even here in the United States where they’ve tried it in individual states, what always happens is, there’s only a limited amount of money (and) some bureaucrat has to decide who’s going to get treatment and who isn’t.
Because there’s not enough money to go around, she said, care will be rationed and the first victims of rationing will likely be people who cost the plan a lot of money.
“That’s typically elderly people, people with chronic diseases — like, say, someone who may be on dialysis — or someone like Jim that is just needing his maintenance medication to keep his transplant intact.”
Cynthia went on to explain that, unlike the people who know years in advance that they’re going to eventually need a transplant and can plan for it, Jim went from healthy to death’s door in six months.
“That’s the problem with socialized medicine,” she continued. “You have long waits — if you can even get that — and you may wait years for a surgery or treatment.
Explaining what happens to a person in the position Jim was in, she makes herself crystal clear: “You don’t have time to wait three years to even be considered for a transplant, much less the treatment. You’ll be dead.”
In addition to long waits for care, Cynthia said socialized medicine reduces a patient’s choices in much the same way as HMOs, a health care “solution” dreamed up by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and others in the early ’70s.
“I just tell people, ‘If you don’t like HMOs, what the heck are you gonna like about ObamaCare?’ Because it’s gonna be the mother of all HMOs. At least with HMOs, if you didn’t like one, you’d go to another one and you get a different plan.” Not so with ObamaCare.
A man of few words, Jim said he agreed with his wife’s concerns on all counts, but noted one as most important.
“One more layer of bureaucracy or someone else needing to say ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ would have been a big problem,” Jim said, understating the fact that he would have died if it had not been for his wife making the decision — one he was unable to make because of his illness — to transfer his care to another hospital.
“It was pretty obvious the one I was in had given up on me, so that was critical,” he explained. “The clock’s running out quickly and you just don’t need another person having to say that’s permissible or not permissible.”
Despite their fears about a future under ObamaCare and about what doctors call the “15/15 Rule” (i.e., that 15 percent of transplant patients require dialysis within 15 years of their operation), Jim and Cynthia remain optimistic. After all, Jim is alive!
SEE ALSO: ‘ObamaCare’ is a Life Issue
Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com