Thursday, July 23, 2009
Villanova law professor, Ellen Wertheim, responds to previoius postings on health care rationing with this:
The exchange on health care rationing has been particularly fascinating, as I teach in the areas of law and medicine and bioethics.
If you ask almost anyone who teaches in these areas, they would agree that this country already has a system of health care rationing. The basis for the rationing is wealth. If you are wealthy and/or have good insurance, you will get the finest care. If you are poor and/or under- or uninsured, the care you receive (if any) is likely to be inferior. The question is not whether we should ration health care in our society; the question is what form that rationing should take. I am among those who believe that our current system combines the worst of all possible rationing worlds, since making the availability of health care depend on the wealth of the patient is maximally unfair and even grotesque in light of our nation’s ostensible commitment to equality.
This position has obvious implications for health care reform. Rationing based on wealth has developed largely because of the privatization of health care and the lack of government involvement in its provision, and it tends to follow that any effort to make health care more accessible to those who cannot pay for it should be welcome. Principles of Catholic social thought surely should require no less.
I agree with Ellen that principles of Catholic Social Thought require us to figure out ways to distribute health care so that it isn't rationed (or at least is rationed less) along wealth lines. The tough question for me is "how" to do so given all the complexities of human nature and human society.