As the father of a 2-month-old, I can only imagine the horror the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard are going through. No words, no thoughts or prayers, or even time, will be able to wipe away their pain.
But that pain did not have to be so great, and it may not have had to have been at all were it not for the single-payer health care system in the United Kingdom and the bureaucrats politicians who rallied to keep Charlie a prisoner to it.
Gard was born with a rare genetic disease that was working to destroy his body. A few months after his birth he wasn’t able to live without machines feeding and breathing for him. All medical professionals involved said there was little chance anything could help Charlie.
But note that phrase: little chance.
As a new father, I know there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my daughter or make her better if, God forbid, something horrible were to happen. Charlie’s parents, as would most parents, felt the same way.
Unfortunately for the Gards, their government didn’t agree.
Often held up as the gold standard of single-payer health care, the National Health Services in the UK is great if you get the flu or break your arm, but it’s not so good if you are afflicted with something that requires serious treatment.
The NHS had reached the end of its “compassion” with Charlie and decided it would be better for him if they stopped paying to keep him alive. The family, naturally, fought it.
What business are family medical decisions to government? In a single-payer system where government controls who gets what care and for how long, every decision is the business of government. When the faceless bureaucracy decides you’ve had enough, you’re done. You can appeal, somewhat, but you’re not appealing to some neutral arbiter, you’re appealing to the same government that denied you in the first place.
Your chances, under those circumstances, are not good.
In Charlie Gard’s case, his parents weren’t asking for extraordinary measures that would cost taxpayers untold millions. They simply were asking to be set free – to be allowed to take their child to the United States for a long-shot experimental treatment. They raised the money on their own – more than $1.6 million worth – so it would have cost the government nothing. Still, they were denied at every turn.
Why would a government block parents from a treatment it didn’t have to pay for? The answer highlights one of the more glaring problems with the Democratic Party’s dream of bringing single-payer health care to this country.
You see, the money was never the issue. As I said, the parents raised the money on their own, it would have cost nothing. It’s the concept.
Single-payer health care exists under the banner of compassion and access, but it actually functions as a form of government control. The government sets the prices and decides what treatments are available based on the price. If a procedure could work but is too expensive, tough. Same goes for drug treatments.
There’s a reason we in the United States are on the leading edge of new treatments and therapeutic drugs, often seeing innovations hit the market months or years before they’re available elsewhere. And it’s not government involvement. There’s also a reason the world’s rich come to the US when they’re seriously ill and don’t stay in their “universal health care” countries, and it’s not out of a desire to pay for something they could get for “free” back home.
No, part of the reason the UK couldn’t let Charlie have a chance at life was because if they let him have one, others would want one too. And people would start to wonder why they aren’t getting the latest and greatest medicine on the planet. They might start demanding more from a government unwilling to give it to them. Which is the problem with single-payer health care – you are a ward of the state, not an individual.
The individuals in these countries are irrelevant, disposable, unless they’re rich, politically powerful or royalty. It’s the collective that matters. If members of the collective start to question why they have to wait months for a routine procedure when the United States can deliver it nearly on demand, or why some procedures simply aren’t available to them, well, that would lead to trouble.
When everyone has to wait, no one is aware that they’re waiting, and when everyone’s care is rationed…you get the idea.
It’s the same rationale that kept the US media from reporting on Charlie’s struggle or asking any Democrat whether they thought his parents should be allowed to save his life – both support a single-payer system for us. The agenda must be protected, the narrative must be advanced – which is how you end up with the networks spending more time talking about the death of a baby whale than Charlie’s plight.
Allowing Charlie Gard’s parents to turn over that last stone, no matter how unlikely a positive outcome may have been, would highlight the many stones a single-payer health system leaves unturned for the sake of the bottom line. Insurers need this secret kept to maintain as much of the status quo as possible. And they are willing to kill to keep it that way.
Could Charlie’s life have been saved? Unlikely. But thanks to the UK’s National Health Service, we’ll never know. The government machine managed to delay any hope for that beyond the point of no return. Make no mistake about it, although his disease will be Charlie Gard’s cause of death, it will be the system trying to protect itself that ultimately killed him.