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Government questions the dollar value of human life

Government questions the dollar value of human life

Recently, a depressing story from England provided a glimpse into America's not-too- distant (and oh-so-grim) healthcare future as it could be in the looming Age of Obama. A cancer patient in Britain was denied the drug that could have held his kidney cancer at bay for six months, because treatment was deemed to be too expensive by British healthcare authorities.

And you thought life was a priceless gift from God. Guess again. In Britain, at least, the "priceless gift" has a price tag. And to the British government, Bruce Hardy's life is not worth the $54,000 cost of cancer treatment.

The drug in question is Pfizer's Stutent, which according to clinical trials, can delay the progress of cancer for as much as half a year.

This shocking decision was made by the British government agency called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (which creates the incredibly ironic acronym of "NICE," even though this particular decision is anything but). According to the guidelines set by this agency, the British government can only "afford" about $22,750 to prolong a person's life – except in rare cases.

Of course, only true apparatchiks could so dispassionately make such an outrageous statement in public, and there's been massive public protests over the ruling throughout the UK – as there should be.

In spite of the protests, however, the literal price-tagging of human life has been standard practice in the British healthcare system. It's why there's unusually long waits for procedures that would be nearly immediate here in U.S. In fact, if the Hardys lived in the U.S., getting the drug wouldn't be an issue – but the family would likely have to pay for part of the cost of the treatment regimen.

The problem is, drug prices are rising rapidly, and budgets are shrinking even faster. And that's a global problem, as any glance at the headlines or a 10-minute viewing of the evening news will tell you. And even without a national socialized healthcare program, some version of NICE is likely coming to the U.S. sooner than you might think.

Dr. Sean Tunis, who once served as the Bush Administration's chief medical officer of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, claims that during his tenure he spent a good portion of time "learning about NICE and trying to adopt the processes and mechanisms they used, and just couldn't."

Why not? Because in America, the entire concept of determining the medical devices or treatments available to patients based on cost would have prompted a national outrage. But outrage or not, Dr. Tunis believes process is coming soon.

Of course, no one is willing to accept the blame for situation that the Hardys find themselves in. Higher ups at NICE point their finger at Big Pharma for jacking up costs in order "to get profits up so their executives can get better bonuses." As usual, Big Pharma reps are talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they claim that they're more than willing to be as cooperative as they can with NICE. Then, at the same time, they send their own advocacy group, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, into the fray to paint NICE's executives as "terrorists."

Caught in the middle, of course, are people like Bruce Hardy. Sadly, he's little more than an object lesson. And it looks like object lessons like these will only grow more common in the coming years.

Objecting to human object lessons,
DR. W. C.
10 Responses
458072 tn?1291415186
yes, it won't be long before human life will not be worth a plug nickel here in the United States. Obama socialist healthcare system will see to that, and we won't have a say one way or the other.

And people think this is the land of the free.  This is the land of the people who want the easy way out.

Let me get off my soapbox because I am sure no one packed a lunch this morning.
Avatar universal
you're 100% correct
535822 tn?1443976780
Yup for sure, I hope we wont regret what most Americans have wished and voted for.
Avatar universal
what about those people who did not have a health insurance and were denied treatments in USA ??? If you don't pay your dues you don't get help....You think that is fair ? Obama will ruin Health care in USA ...I don't think so.!!
I wish he changed for  Universal Health Care so everybody would have a fair shot at any kind of treatment. Watched Sicko? if not please do so. You will see. We don't have to look in England we have troble here in North America. Too many capitalists want more money. How much is enough to live happilly ever after!
577974 tn?1232522774
There are people in America that aren't getting life saving treatment right now because they don't have health insurance or their health insurance wont cover what they need.

How is this any different to what is going on in the UK?

From where I sit, there is no difference!
458072 tn?1291415186
The reality of it is, this is not the governments problem, if I don't have insurance, it is my problem. It is my responsibility to provide insurance for myself, not the governments.

It is not the governments responsibility to see to it that me and my family has food or clothing or shelter. That is MY responsibility.

If someone provides for you, they own you.  That gives them the right to tell you what to do. Think not? what about people living in projects and on food stamps. The government tells them where to live and how much they can spend on food.  Medicaid? You can't go to any dr. you have to go to where the government tells you to see.

This land of people has gotten so soft and so lazy that we want everything handed to us on a platter instead of doing what we are supposed to do: work.  We think we are "entitled' and look at what that has done to our nation.

The supplemental programs are for people that can not work, not for those that won't work.  People need to provide for themselves and their family. That is Gods plan. The government plan is let me provide for you, so I can tell you where to live, the kind of healthcare you will be entitled to.....

I realize this is not a popular idea in todays society, but I do not want the government providing for me, because I will not be a governmental slave.    

Bet I just won a bunch of friends...
499534 tn?1328704178
I think that if our government hadn't allowed our insurance companies to start dictating to our doctors how they are allowed to treat us....what tests we are allowed....medications they are allowed to prescribe.....oh yeah and most importantly denying existing conditions and charging outrageous insurance premiums, most of us americans could then afford to pay for our own insurance. Our government should be sticking up for us and fighting for us.
Just like the stupid mortgage company situations.....the gov't should have stepped in a long time ago and said no no no...not good business ethics.....you are harming the people.
Our gov't was formed to take care of its people and to over see that no one takes advantage....so much for that....so much for in God we trust....etc.....etc.....etc.
I like the state funded health insurance programs for kids. The government put that into place....it is not welfare or medicaid. They charge by a sliding scale fee of your income and your child gets excellent health insurance and dental. Even the prescription program is fantastic. If they would put together a program like that for families and individuals, it would be a winner!  :)
349465 tn?1289081764
You just won my friendship Peggy64.  I totally agree with you. Where does it say in our beautiful Constitution that the government OWES us good health or healthcare?  I've always paid for my coverage and have had excellent coverage.  One should work and plan their career earnings around paying for healthcare. That is, unless they just absolutely cannot pay for it. Those cases should be few and far between.  I say hoorah for those who truthfully qualify for Disability.  If they are that sick..they deserve some help. That's about all I have to say.
458072 tn?1291415186
Thank you. i know that way of thinking is not very popular today, but the entitlement way of thinking is leading our nation into socialization, and people are blindly walking into it, like sheep being lead to slaughter.

Our forefathers knew this was coming, that is why they warned of it, and wrote the Constituion as they did.
Avatar universal

I think our Founding Fathers would raise their eyebrows at the greed and corruption that is going on in our country today.

If we don't pull together to solve issues such as rising healthcare costs, etc... then we will continue to divide and fail.
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