03/27/12 — A warning: Cheney heart transplant furor sign of trouble to come

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A warning: Cheney heart transplant furor sign of trouble to come

Call it a warning. Call it a sign. Call it whatever you want, but if you are wondering why you should pay attention to the debate over the Obama health care law, and its potential implications for your life, keep a close eye on the debate over whether former Vice President Dick Cheney "deserved" a heart transplant.

Perhaps some of it is vitriol -- commentary from people who weren't going to be for Cheney receiving medical treatment anyway.

But in the middle of the crush of commentary Monday on the major networks came a question: "Was Cheney too old to get a heart transplant?"

You have heard this type of question before -- in connection with explanation of the new health care plan and how there would be decisions made on how to allocate treatment.

And you probably remember the scorn heaped on then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin when she questioned death panels and who would decide who would be given what treatment and in what order.

Now, think what you will about Palin, but it sure seems that there might have been something to her comments.

Cheney waited 20 months for his heart -- and the average wait time for a transplant is much shorter than that. He has suffered from heart disease for decades. Who has the right to question his family's decision to pursue extending his life? Even if there was someone younger than him on the list, did he not deserve the chance to spend more time with his children and grandchildren?

And questions like this -- about what treatment should be administered and to whom -- are the very core of the reason so many people are so scared about the impact of the new health care law.

If you are under the age of 40, you probably are not thinking about what will happen when you are 60, 70 or 80, but you likely will soon have to think about your parents and grandparents.

Do you want someone other than your doctor telling you when it is time to stop treatment or what treatment is appropriate?

That is the crux of the health care law issue.

Published in Editorials on March 27, 2012 10:58 AM