The Health Care Debate

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that I rarely dive into politics.  There are two reasons I avoid political posts:

1.) I’m not the most articulate when it comes to expounding upon my political beliefs.  I know how I feel and I believe in my convictions, but I don’t always articulate them well.

2.) This blog was not and is not a forum for me to talk about politics.  It’s a forum for me to talk about my family and about motherhood.  Sometimes, however, politics and motherhood intersect.

Yesterday, Obama’s proposed health care plan hit a little closer to home for our family.  A report came out calling into question the effectiveness of a common medical procedure used to treat those with osteoporosis and compression fractures.  This procedure is called Vertebroplasty and it is the main product that my husband sells.

So yesterday was a stressful day for Lee, to say the least.

The study was apparently conducted in America and in Australia.  Using a group of patients who were all candidates for Vertebroplasty (a procedure in which doctors inject bone cement into the spine to relieve pain from compression), some of the group received the Vertebroplasty injection and the others received a placebo.

According to the study, those who received the placebo had the same measure of pain relief as those who received the cement.  This, they say, reveals that the Vertebroplasty procedure is ineffective and unnecessary.

There are some major flaws in this study, however, and many of those are being revealed today.  First, using the group in America, only 131 patients were willing to even take part in this study.  Out of 1800 people eiligible for Vertebroplasty, only 131 were willing to take their chances on the study.

Second, 6 months after the procedures, the patients, who were still unaware of whether or not they were given the placebo or the Vertebroplasty, were given the opportunity to have the opposite procedure done if they still experienced back pain.  Of the placebo group, 40% opted to have the procedure redone.  Of the Vertebroplasty group only 11% opted to have the procedure redone.

This fits perfectly with Vertebroplasty statistics, which say that the Vertebroplasty procedure has roughly an 89% effectiveness rate.

Finally, as stated in this rebuttal of the study, 131 people is a very small control group.  Even those conducting the study admitted that they had hoped for a group of at least 250.  The fact that so few people were willing to even take their chances on such a study is telling.  Also, not all the facts on the results of the study were given in the report (surprise, surprise):

Per the above cited rebuttal: Pain is often measured on a 0 to 10 scale, with higher numbers indicating greater pain. The studies demonstrate that patients who received the vertebroplasty procedure had reductions in pain of 2.3 and 3.0 points in the two studies, compared to reductions of 1.7 and 2.6 for the facet injection procedure.

So one must ask the question – were the findings of the study really accurate?  Vertebroplasty has helped countless individuals who suffered from severe and chronic back pain.  To say that the mere injection of a placebo, which as the article points out, was not really a placebo but rather a facet injection – a different but still effective treatment (which did not have the same lasting results), is all it took to make these patients feel better is to call all those who experienced relief from Vertebroplasty liars.

What disturbed me most about the Katie Couric piece, however, was this quote regarding the potential to cut medical costs:

These results point to the kind of savings President Obama has said can be achieved, when there are well-designed studies on whether expensive treatments really work.

President Obama’s proposed health care plan has many dangerous facets.  One of them being that the government would get to decide what kind of procedure someone should or shouldn’t receive based on studies that are not accurate or complete.

The government has no business taking control in such an arrogant and presupposing manner.  President Obama is taking our country in a direction that I find frightening and disturbing.  I don’t want the government taking over the private sector.  I don’t want them dictating how I receive medical care, or how my children receive medical care.  It’s dangerous, it’s socialist (and I do not use that term lightly, I guarantee you) and it’s not what many, many Americans want – not just me.

I have a very high and deep respect for the office of President.  Therefore, I try hard to not speak ill of the man who was elected leader.  Though I did not vote for him, I believe that he was placed in his position not by the American people, but by God Himself.  That does not mean, however, that I will silently watch him take my country in a place that I find disturbing.

My respect for the quality of leadership that President Obama is exhibiting, however, is waning fast.  I am proud of the many, many Americans who are standing up for what is right through grassroots movements like the Tea Party movement. I have desired to participate in the St. Louis tea parties, but have not wanted to expose my kids to that so I’ve stayed home.

(It’s not that I don’t want my kids exposed to partiotism, but I want to teach them to respect the office of President as well and find it difficult to do that at a protest rally.  It’s just my personal opinion.)

I urge those of you who are participating in the tea party protests to continue to lift up the desires and concerns of the American people.  Political office is not about exerting power.  It’s not about getting your way or laughing in the face of the constituents.  It’s about listening to the desires of those you lead and in wisdom and humility being willing to take their concerns into consideration and truly do what’s best for the whole of your country.

I know President Obama will never read my blog – but if he did, I would urge and implore him to open his eyes to the conerns of America.  Do not placate us with political rhetoric.  Don’t talk down to us as though we are selfish children in need of reprimanding.  We love our country and all we want is for our leaders to listen to us.

I also urge those who are protesting to do so respectfully and civilly.  Angry riots and aggression will not accomplish our goals.  We cannot stoop to that which they are trying to push us – namely fighting , yelling, screaming and rioting.  We must show them that a civilized America respects one another.

Obviously this Vertebroplasty study hits me a little differently than it would most people.  But it is one more example, in my opinion, of how the government is losing sight of what’s in the best interest of the people.

And that, my friends, is the end of my soap box.  I shall not climb up again, at least for a little while.