Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We Already Have Death Panels

Death panels do exist in American health care, but they are not your grand mother's death panels. Rather they are for those citizens who live without health insurance in our immensely wealthy, but morally wanting,country.

For those of us who cannot afford, or whose job does not provide health insurance, death comes sooner and with more pain.

As a physician, I have witnessed this when I volunteered at the free one-day medical clinics in New Orleans,LA; Little Rock, ARK; and Hartford, CT; and the two-day free clinic in Kansas City, MO. These events were organized by the National Association of Free Clinics and sponsored by funds raised by MSNBC. Each day, we provided medical, mental health and some dental care more than 1000 patients.

There I saw working Americans with untreated hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, undiagnosed heart disease, crippling arthritis and rotting teeth. We saw patients with impending heart attacks and desperate people with clear suicidal plans.

Yes, Congress, there are death panels. By not including all of our citizens, our system of health care has death panels for the one sixth of our citizens who do not have health insurance. Your job is to pass heath reform and kill these panels, and not our neighbors.

Ralph Freidin, MD

Lexington, Mass.

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