When Sarah Palin used rhetorical flourish to warn Americans of “Obama’s Death Panel” back in August of 2009, she was mocked and derided by liberals, and sniped at by jealous establishment conservatives. Well, fast-forward to March 2011 in Canada – land of Obama’s dream of nationalized health care – and the debate over the use of the drug Herceptin in the treatment of breast cancer in young women. When 34-year-old mother of two Jill Anzarut went to the press and Facebook to advocate for the drug, which is being denied to her by the Ontario Ministry of Health, our (Liberal) Health Minister chose to respond with jaw-dropping honesty:
“We cannot have a health system where the stories that land on the front page of the paper determine our health-care policy. It would be unfair to those who do not get their stories on the front page if we were to give priority to those who do.”
With these 49 words, Deb Matthews exposes what Palin was so presciently warning about: that nationalized health care ends up becoming about turf-protection, central control, dehumanization of individuals, and a monopoly on health service rationing to a clique of “masters of the universe” who end up thinking their number-crunching degrees in epidemiology give them moral license to determine who deserves to live and die.
Not convinced? Want to give Matthews benefit of the doubt, or deny the truth of what she said? OK, don’t take her word for it. Let’s go straight to the words of Diane McArthur, Assistant Deputy Minister and executive officer, Ontario Public Drug Programs, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, as published in her own words as a letter to the editor in today’s National Post:
“I would like to clarify the Ontario Public Drug Program review process in response to Matt Gurney’s recent article. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s process for evaluating new and expensive cancer drugs is based on the best scientific evidence. The Ontario Public Drug Program relies on a thorough assessment of scientific data and clinical evidence by its expert advisory committee, the Committee to Evaluate Drugs (CED) and the CED/Cancer Care Ontario sub-committee, which includes cancer experts, to develop funding recommendations for all cancer drugs.
As a result, the Ontario Public Drug program is one of the most generous drug benefit programs in Canada.
Ontario’s Compassionate Access Program component of the Exceptional Access Program provides an opportunity for me, as the executive officer of the Ontario Public Drug Program, to consider requests for drugs or indications where the Committee to Evaluate Drugs has not reviewed a drug or where there are rare clinical circumstances in immediately life-, limb-or organ-threatening conditions. This program is not a mechanism to provide an exemption from the evidencebased criteria. The Exceptional Access Program Compassionate Review Policy is available on the Ministry’s website.
The ministry will continue to make funding decisions on drug products based on the advice of experts. We regularly review our criteria as new evidence is brought forward and/or standards of practice change. It is our responsibility to ensure that in addition to providing the best coverage we can, all funding decisions are made on the best available clinical and scientific evidence.”
Trying to put a positive spin on the government monopoly on drug rationing, MacArthur confirms what Palin, and the Health Minister herself, made clear:
1) Initial decisions on drug coverage are made by an “expert advisory committee”.
2) Ontario’s committee is a smiley-happy-face-committee that is most generous to the little peoples!!!
3) If you’re not satisfied that Ontario’s committee is smiley and happy and generous to the little peoples, you can apply to another smiley happy committee – the committee of ME!!! DIANE MACARTHUR!!! BEARER OF GOVERNMENT GIFTS!!! And my SUPERPOWERS as head of the EXCEPTIONAL ACCESS PROGRAM!!!!
4) But if I, DIANE MARCARTHUR, BEARER OF GOVERNMENT GIFTS decide to quell the PR nightmare my administration is experiencing by granting you, suffering nameless victim who doesn’t fit into the expert panel’s number-crunching criteria yet insists on advocating for your own life, the drug that you want, I’ll find a way to cover my ass with another expert report (commissioned by me to give me the answer I need to provide cover to make it look like our system consists of something other than the government exercising a monopoly on the arbitrary rationing of health care services.)
Put it in your pipe and smoke it, Palin-haters of the right and left! (And you too, brainwashed Canucks…)
UPDATE: The bureaucrats announce, to no one’s surprise, that they will fund the patient’s treatment after all. The death panel comes through for Ms. Anzarut, and the minister announces what a wonderful world it is!