During the healthcare debate, I would cringe when the Democrats would use tear-jerker anecdote after anecdote to illustrate the need for healthcare reform (who can forget Rep. Louise Slaughter embarrassing herself at the healthcare summit when she talked about used dentures).
But the fact is, the Democrats used this emotional selling tactic because it works on the American public. There’s nothing like a sad story to get a person all worked up on a subject and no matter the facts, the refrain “this just shouldn’t happen” rings over and over again in the person’s head.
Well, there are just as many “this shouldn’t happen” stories that point out what a disaster government-run healthcare will be for people in this country and I sometimes wish the Republicans had used a few of those emotional stories to get the point across (though I also respect the Republicans for sticking to the facts during the debates and not making this a sad story swap meet).
Take this story, for instance, in London’s The Daily Mail headlined: “Mother denied cancer drugs that were promised by Labour says, ‘I just want to see my sons grow up’.” The headline alone is a kick in the gut but the story itself is horrifying.
The story centers around British citizen Nikki Phelps, a mother of twins, who was told by her doctors that Britain’s National Health Services (NHS) had refused to fund the cancer treatment drug they knew would save her life. Her doctor said to her “I hate to ask you this, but is there any way you can raise the money to pay for this treatment, because it’s the only one left that is clinically effective.” Nicki realized that without these drugs, “the NHS was consigning me to an early grave.”
Mrs Phelps, a 37-year-old mother of two-year-old twins Jack and Harry, suffers from a rare glandular cancer. She has also become the human face of an election battle over the NHS.
As many as 20,000 Britons may have had their lives cut short because of decisions taken by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the NHS’s rationing body, a recent study has found.
In late 2008, NICE responded to huge public criticism and announced plans to increase the number of drugs for rarer forms of cancer approved on the NHS.
Drugs for rarer cancers are often more expensive, so the organisation’s chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins promised to change NICE’s rules so dearer drugs could be approved.
But since then, NICE has not given full approval to a single cancer drug, despite considering 15 medications – meaning thousands of patients have missed out on lifeextending drugs.
When he unveiled his new policy, Sir Michael said: ‘People attach a special importance to extending the lives of those with mortal illnesses and we appreciate that these extra weeks and months can be very special.’
But an analysis by the Tories last week showed the new rules have in fact had little effect. Of the 15 drugs assessed since November 2008, four were rejected outright, a decision was delayed on another, and ten were only partially approved.
It has imposed complex criteria that mean in some cases drugs are approved for treatment for a specific form of cancer, but not others that a patient’s doctor may want to treat with the drug.
So, just to be clear. Who was making the decision about Nicki’s drugs? Was it her doctors? Her family? Was she making the decision? No, it was a government-panel concerned about costs who views cutting edge cancer treatments as quaint attempts by family members who “attach a special importance to the lives of those with mortal illnesses.”
Now there’s a frightening little anecdote the Democrats won’t be using to sell their government-run healthcare programs. When it comes time to repeal this mess, I hope the Republicans use a few of these stories from across the pond. They are definitely jarring and unsettling and they might just work in making people understand what its like to put your life in the hands of a government bureaucrat.