Category archives: Health Care

Hospital Visit Horrors? Heres the Rest of the Story

by Peter Sprigg

April 21, 2010

On April 15, President Obama issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services instructing her to prepare regulations that will protect the right of homosexual partners (and other non-family members) to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

In a series of interviews the next day, I emphasized that the Family Research Council does not have any objection to such visitation in principle, as long as it is premised on the patients personal choice rather than on a redefinition of family or marriage. However, I also pointed out that the main reason this is even a topic of discussion is because it is used as a political talking point by the advocates of same-sex marriage, who see it as a golden opportunity to tug at peoples heartstrings and generate emotional sympathy for their cause.

I further asserted my belief that the frequency with which homosexuals are barred from visiting their partners in the hospital is grossly exaggerated. As I pointed out in an online chat on the Washington Post website,

The idea that homosexuals are regularly denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital is one that has only one source—homosexual activists who want to change the definition of marriage. Where are the media surveys of hospital administrators to determine how many hospitals actually have such restrictive policies?

In the reporting on the Obama memorandum, however, many media outlets cited the case of Janice Langbehn, a lesbian who sued a Florida hospital claiming that she was denied the right to visit her partner Lisa Pond when Pond was dying from an aneurysm. Langbehns story is apparently a familiar one in the homosexual activist community, thanks in large part to a sympathetic New York Times article last year.

In fact, Langbehns story was instrumental in moving Obama to act. According to the Washington Post:

Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side. Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said.

The New York Times story last year did report that the hospital disputes some of Langbehns charges, but media reports on the Obama memo last week, like that in the Post, did not even bother mentioning that. They were content to repeat the storyline of the homosexual activists verbatim, without even stopping to ask if there was another side.

There is, however, another side. On the website of the Miami Herald, I discovered that the hospital which Langbehn accused of mistreating her has sent its own letter to President Obama. Here is part of what the hospital said:

We would also like to take this opportunity to provide you with some clarification on the allegations being made by Janice Langbehn, whose partner was treated at Jacksons Ryder Trauma Center in 2007. From the beginning, JHS has vehemently denied that Ms. Langbehn was denied visitation due to her sexual orientation. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed Ms. Langbehns lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in September 2009.

Ms. Langbehns allegations and those made by published articles, blogs, etc., are inaccurate and have damaged the reputations and deeply hurt the feelings of the personnel in our trauma center. They have devoted their careers to all who come through our doors, from all walks of life.

JHS grants hospital visitation to all individuals equally, regardless of their relationship to the patient, as long as doing so does not interfere with the care being given to the patient or other patients in the area. With that said, our first priority when a patient is brought to our trauma center is always to stabilize the patient and save their life. As the only adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center in Miami-Dade County to support a population of more than 2.3 million people, our facility is one of the busiest and most renowned in the nation.

The Trauma Resuscitation Unit in Ryder Trauma Center, where Lisa Pond was treated when airlifted to Jackson, is more like a large operating room with multiple beds separated by glass partitions rather than a traditional hospital floor. Sometimes, visitors are not able to see a loved one in the trauma bay as quickly as they would like or they may have to wait until the patient is moved to the ICU or to another area of the hospital that is better suited for visitation. This all depends on the circumstances of the situation, how busy the unit is at the time and the medical conditions of the patients in the unit at the time. The patients in this area are facing life-threatening injuries or illnesses and are extremely vulnerable.

The most important piece of information to consider from our side of this story is that the charge nurse on duty the night Ms. Pond was in our care and the person who made all visitation access decisions that evening is herself a lesbian with a life partner. In addition, numerous members of the medical team working in our trauma unit are openly homosexual. We can assure you that Ms. Langbehn was not treated differently because of her sexual orientation.

When homosexuals complain that they are denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital, they may give some people the impression (I suspect deliberately) that in some hospitals they are never able to visit their partners, simply because they are not legally recognized as family members. I pointed out that for ordinary patients in ordinary hospital rooms (the vast majority of hospital patients), there are few if any restrictions on visitation. You dont go through security, no one checks your IDyou just walk up to the room and visit. Some hospitals have even done away with the tradition of visiting hours, and instead allow visitors to come in at any hour of the day or night.

I did acknowledge that there might be exceptions to these liberal visitation policies, such as when a patient is in intensive care. But there was one point so obvious that I did not bother making it (until now)and that is that in situations of emergency, trauma, or intensive care, hospitals may sometimes keep away all visitors from a patient for medical reasonsnot for reasons of discrimination. If the hospitals account is accurate, that is what happened to Janice Langbehn.

Is the thought of a person dying without their loved ones at their bedside an agonizing one? Of course. But it is an agony that is probably experienced by many people, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, every day, for one simple reasontheir beds are surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to save their lives.

Listen to Bridget

by Robert Morrison

March 30, 2010

She called in to Sean Hannitys radio show yesterday. Sean gave her extra time. Good thing.

The lady identified herself as Bridget, and what a story she told. She is a medical speech pathologist, one who works with stroke victims and those who, for one reason or another, have speech impairment. She is also a military wife, familiar with TriCare, the militarys health care system (which, of course, is government-run).

Most interestingly, she described her two years working in the British National Health System. There, the doctors and nurses education is completely underwritten by the taxpayers. With free medical education, young people with a desire to serve others pursue their studies just as any other college students elect their majors. For them, free education and job security afterwards are not a bad deal.

Bridget said that she did not think you could graft the British NHS onto American free enterprise. Thats because the young people who go into medicine here are taking out loans, seeking to become respected professionals. In a way, our doctors are mostly small business entrepreneurs. And they are innovators.

Thats why we have the best medical care in the world. Thats why New York City alone has more MRIs than all of Canada, whose government-run system is modeled on Britains.

Its also why Premiers of Canadian Provinces (equivalent to our state governors) like Robert Bourassa (Quebec) and, more recently, Newfoundlands Danny Williams choose American hospitals when they can.

The decision by Premier Williams to seek treatment in the U.S. prompted a controversy in Canada. I was warned by my staff that this could be an issue, Williams said. The Premier said that the heart surgery he needed was highly specialized and not available in Newfoundland.

The heart procedure he chose to get in Florida was less invasive and involved just two small incisions near the breast area. The traditional method of dealing with heart murmurs like that experienced by Mr. Williamsthe one Canadian docs assure us is available north of the 49th parallel, if not in Newfoundland—requires surgeons to crack open the sternum.

Cr-aa-a-ck! Cant you just hear the sound now? Who wouldnt prefer those two small incisions?

And what about recovery time? Danny Williams is, after all, a public servant. Does he want to face a prolonged recuperation that could put him out of action as the provinces chief executive? What might that do to his political recovery?

Bridgets call to Sean Hannity was one of the most intelligent and informed discussions of health care I have ever heard. What she wanted us to understand is that the long-term consequences of ObamaCare may not appear immediately. The short-term will be bad enough.

The longer term result will be that the U.S. will lose its competitive edge. We wont even develop those advanced medical techniques that have made us the medical Mecca of the world. And we wont even attract the same entrepreneurs and innovators into our health care system.

Im deeply concerned. I agree with Bridget. And I am worried, not just for my own family. Im worried about all those dear Canadians. Where will their ailing Premiers go for world class treatment under ObamaCare? As Danny Williams said, hes a strong supporter of Canadas nationalized health care: But this is my heart. Its my health and my choice.

Obama Health Care Ignores Private Sector Realities

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 26, 2010

According to Reuters, White House Secretary Robert Gibbs is unconcerned with the reports today by two leading American manufacturers that the newly enacted Democratic health system legislation will hit them hard financially.

John Deere and Caterpillar report a combined anticipated earnings loss of $250 million given the new tax provisions of President Obama’s just-imposed regime of federal health care management. This will affect their ability to hire, promote and provide benefits. It will affect the cost of the goods they sell and their ability to compete in domestic and international markets. It will hurt their ability to work with subcontractors and pay for retirement benefits.

In fact, Business Week notes the business consultancy of Towers Watson estimates a loss of $14 billion in corporate profits due to the Obama health regime-change (“Obama Taxs $14 Billion Charge Starts at Caterpillar,” March 25, 2010).

But, hey - to Robert Gibbs, all of this is worth one modest shrugging of his shoulders. Here’s what he said on Air Force One when asked about the hit Deere and Cat will have to take due to his boss’s new medical system overhaul:

So basically, they get a subsidy and what amounts to two deductions. They get the subsidy that’s not counted as income, then they get to write off the spending. This bill, our bill, simply closes the loophole.

Similarly, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke responded, “The rules…and a lot of the regulations on how this will affect large businesses haven’t even been published yet. So for them to come out, I think, is premature and irresponsible.”

I see: The Obama people are just closing tax “loopholes,” but it’s irresponsible for companies to estimate what the de facto taxes will cost them. How silly - a company ponders the affects of a tax hike and it’s irresponsible for letting its investors know its cost estimates. Guess I missed that lucid economic principle somewhere along the way.

Ask the families of people who are about to lose their jobs because President Obama and his congressional allies couldn’t care less about the private sector. Many of the President’s senior aides and appointees (including Mr. Gibbs) have never held jobs in the open market. They have never actually created a job, met a payroll, worried about opening a new store or burned the midnight oil experimenting with a new product.

In showing contempt for individual and corporate taxpayers, Robert Gibbs and Gary Locke reveal the true heart of the current Administration: Elitist, dismissive, arrogant and fundamentally ignorant of the American system of entrepreneurship, enterprise and market-based competition.

The High Costs of the Democratic Health Plan

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 24, 2010

Congressman Paul Ryan, a respected Wisconsin Republican and self-described “numbers guy,” writes the following in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Premiums in the individual market would rise from 10% to 13% for families. Our debt and deficit crisis —— driven by $76 trillion in unfunded liabilities —— would accelerate from the creation of a brand new entitlement and an increase in the federal deficit by $662 billion, when the true costs are factored in. National health expenditures will increase by an additional $222 billion over the next decade, according the president’s own chief actuary, and $2.4 trillion in the decade after the new entitlement is up and running.

Ryan himself calls these “mind-numbing numbers,” but their vastness only emphasizes how serious they are. To bring it down to family level, what the Obama-Democratic plan means is that you and your loved ones will obtain poorer quality of care at higher cost. Medical innovations generated by private sector research will contract as companies have fewer financial resources with which to make them. Market-driven competition will decline as the number of insurance companies shrinks due to heavy new mandates and regulations. The ripple effect on the broader economy will mean that there will be fewer jobs in the private-sector as companies lay-off employees to pay for both higher taxes and cost of newly imposed health insurance rules.

The world works in a certain way. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The world turns from east to west. And the more centralized political power becomes and the greater the mandates and costs imposed on those governed, the less freedom and prosperity there will be.

These propositions are axiomatic because they are immutable. And it is difficult to believe that whatever their protestations, President Obama and his allies —- intelligent men and women, all —- did not understand them very well from before the start of their health care “reform” campaign.

Less quality, high cost health care. Fewer jobs. Lost freedom. That’s change I’d rather not believe in, but it’s here. And conservatives will keep fighting it as long as our liberty endures.

FRC Action Responds to the Health Care Vote

by JP Duffy

March 22, 2010

From FRC Action’s press release:

Washington, D.C.- Today the House of Representatives passed the Senate health care bill with a multitude of abortion funding provisions and passed the reconciliation bill to increase funding for one abortion funding program. Neither contained conscience protections previously approved by the House.

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins responded with the following comments:

Passage of this partisan government takeover of health care with all of its Medicare cuts, tax increases, a continued marriage penalty, individual mandates, and abortion funding shows the extreme leftist orientation of this Congress.

The American people, regardless of their view of its legality, should not be forced to pay for someone’s abortion. Those who voted for this legislation cannot legitimately claim to be even neutral on the issue of abortion. This legislation accomplishes this abortion mandate in spades.

Read the whole release here.

Abortions Are Not Healthy, Amnesty International

by Family Research Council

March 19, 2010

Amnesty International released a report today on Maternal Mortality in the United States. I was enthusiastic to see a subheading for a right to life until a little further into the report I read that abortion (the procedure that destroys innocent little lives) was included as part of a womans right to life.

From page 14 of the report:

The right to life is protected in a number of international human rights treaties including the ICCPR, which states that every human being has the inherent right to life and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their right to life…the need to employ a broad interpretation of the right to life, which includes public health measures, and has called on states to reduce preventable maternal mortality, including by ensuring access to family planning and abortion, as part of their obligation to protect the right to life under the ICCPR.33 Like all human rights, the right to life must also be guaranteed without discrimination.

Sadly, Amnesty International defies their own words by discriminating against those who are in the womb.

To put the right to life issue in context, approximately 12 million women die worldwide each year from complications in childbirth (i.e., maternal mortality). In comparison, approximately 42 million children are denied the inherent right to life through abortion every year worldwide.

Additionally, according to the WHO, Maternal Mortality is not listed among the top ten health causes of death anywhere in the world - in developing or developed countries.

While we can all agree that expectant mothers should have access to good health care, the issue of maternal mortality should not be a cover for abortion.

ObamaCare: The Greatest Civics Lesson

by Robert Morrison

March 19, 2010

War is Gods way of teaching Americans history, goes a cynical old European taunt. I dont agree with that, entirely. But they have a point. Who among us knew where Fallujah was before 2003? Or where Kandahar was before 2001? Who among us does not know where Gettysburg is and what it means. Or, at least, what it used to mean.

Living through history has a way of making an impact on our lives. We are living through a great moment in our history. Glenn Beck regales Americans nightly with stories and quotes from the Founding Fathers. Its as if this eager, emotional fellow has just discovered them. Hes that enthusiastic. Legal writer Mark Levin holds forth nightly as well. His book, Liberty and Tyranny, rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists. Its an essential primer in the theory and practice of limited government.

Liberals are, predictably, horrified by the likes of Beck and Levin. But they would have been horrified by Thomas Paine, too. Paine was a hard-drinking, failed tax collector and corset maker from England who came to America with no money and even fewer prospects. His book, Common Sense, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It electrified the American colonists and helped mightily to move them to demand independence. His Excellency General George Washington had Common Sense distributed to his ragged soldiers.

John Adams powerfully reasoned arguments persuaded many in Congress. Thomas Jeffersons immortal prose inspired all who loved liberty and language—then and now. But it was Paine who set the grassroots on fire.

The great threat of ObamaCare to Americans life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness cannot be overestimated. It holds the menace of financial collapse for the Great Republic —- with trillions in unfunded mandates. It is precisely what C.S. Lewis described when he spoke of worldly peoples reaction to obvious problems. When the ship is about to founder, they yell: Take on more water!

In a country conceived in liberty, a nation that believes all men are created equal, ObamaCare would fund the engines of death, the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. It would give the official government seal of approval to abortion facilities —- these latter-day tophets —- all over the country. The Obama administration has resisted the Stupak Amendment and every other effort to restrict coverage for abortion.

These heady days remind me of the last great fight we had on Capitol Hill. Back in 1994, H.R. 6, a monster federal education bill, was being debated. Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) had had quietly slipped into its thousands of pages an innocent-looking amendment. In New Jersey, Carolee Adams, a mother and homeschooler, recognized the threat to homeschooling in the Miller Amendment. It could very likely make homeschooling illegal. Carolee, a former Fortune 500 corporate vice president, is a formidable lady. She was not to be head-patted by congressmen or patronized by liberal Hill staffers. Carolee sounded the alarm. Dr. Dobson brought the Home School Legal Defense Associations fearless advocate, Mike Farris, onto his broadcast and, together, they ignited the grassroots.

Then, as now, phone calls poured into the Capitol Hill switchboard. In just eight days, there were three million calls registered in Congress. Many Members of Congress in those pre-cellphone days could not even reach their own offices!

Give them whatever they want, some of these powerful committee chairman said, just tell them to stop calling! The final vote against Congressman Millers amendment was 434-1. Give the Democrat his due, Mr. Miller voted for the Miller Amendment.

I was fielding phone calls at the FRC offices during that eight-day blitz. Many a parent would call me to clarify what their congressmans office had told them. One young mother, homeschooling several very little children, put me through my paces. Whats a conference committee? Whats a committee of the whole? Whats an open rule? Whats the Union calendar?

What does reconciliation mean?

For almost an hour, as the sun sank over the capital, I answered every one of this worried Moms questions. She had gotten to the point where she wasnt trusting anybody. Finally, she sighed.

Okay, youve been honest with me. Ill tell my group of mothers to keep calling our congressman. Then, with some little embarrassment, she said: I have to admit, I was never very good at this civics stuff when I was in high school.

I told her I was never very good at teaching civics when I worked in a high school. What we learned then was that theres nothing like a fight —- a fight for your family, a fight for your country, a fight for your fundamental American liberties—to teach us all.

So, Mr. President, thank you. You have done a great deal to educate all Americans about their government. Anyone who thinks the American people wont know what deem and pass means now, and how it violates Art. I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution is deluding himself. And if this thing passes by schemin and deemin, we just might see some of those deemin Congressmen voted out!

The Quotable Stupak on Health Care and Abortion

by Cathy Ruse

March 10, 2010

Youve gotta love Bart Stupak, the brave Democrat from Michigan who is standing athwart the Obama-Abortion-Care Juggernaut, yelling, Stop!

Here are some choice quotes (to use a pun) from Representative Stupak from a recent interview with the Weekly Standard:

When the reporter mentioned speculation that Stupak was ready to cave and vote for a health care bill that would force taxpayers to fund abortion, his response was clear: “Obviously they dont know me,” he said. If I didnt cave in November, why would I do it now after all the crap Ive been through?”

President Obamas attempt to get Stupaks vote is both ridiculous and revealing: Apparently the President invited Stupak to the Russian opera last week. (This is reminiscent of candidate Nelson Rockefeller at the working mans bar ordering beers all around and a Courvoisier for himself.) The Weekly Standard writes: Asked if he was a big fan of the opera, Stupak, who represents a district encompassing the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, laughed and said: No, Im not a fan of opera, especially not Russian opera because I wouldn’t understand a thing.

Stupak isnt afraid to call out his own Party, saying that White House officials are “trying to get face time with members to convince them to vote for a bill that no one has seen in writing.”

Calling Planned Parenthoods Bluff

by Family Research Council

March 4, 2010

Yesterday, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement including the following: If the current Senate language introduced by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is maintained, it would result in the most significant restriction in access to abortion coverage in the nearly 35 years since the U.S. Congress first adopted the Hyde Amendment…For that reason, Planned Parenthood opposed the Nelson provision when it was proposed and continues to oppose it.

This statement makes me wonder if Ms. Richards and I are looking at different bills. To set the record straight, the Senate bill goes beyond current law restricting government funding of abortion and plans that include abortion.

In Section 1303, the bill allows tax credit subsidies for plans that include abortion and leaves an abortion surcharge in place. It then maintains the proposal to create a multi-state plan that includes abortion in Sec. 1334. Lastly, the Obama proposal would increase the Senate bill funding from $7 billion to $11 billion for community health centers in Sec. 10503 without any abortion funding restrictions.

The sad reality, in the words of FRC president Tony Perkins is that If this bill becomes law, this Congress will oversee the largest ever expansion of abortion on demand at taxpayer expense.

Planned Parenthoods claim that the bill is more restrictive of abortion funding than current law is disingenuously inaccurate. However, if Planned Parenthood truly does want to maintain current policy since the 1970s under the Hyde amendment, then weve found common ground, and can agree that inclusion of the Stupak amendment to maintain the status quo on government abortion funding is the best way forward.