I went to high school in the 70′s, and spent many a night at my friend’s apartment watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on “late night” PBS. Many of their skits and movies are comedy classics – The Parrot Sketch, The Cheese Shop Sketch, Argument Clinic, plus many others. But one sketch in particular – The Hospital Sketch – has a rather prescient resonance that is both hilarious and haunting.
John Cleese and Graham Chapman are two witless doctors who are more concerned with impressing the Hospital Administrator (played by Eric Idle) by arranging expensive-looking equipment in the delivery room than they are in the welfare of their terrified pregnant patient. I’ve seen the sketch many times over the years, and it has never failed to evoke guffaws of laughter. The Monty Python crew, satirizing the state of (socialized) medical care in Great Britain at the time.
But lately, it just doesn’t seem very funny.
When cost is the single overriding concern, patient care becomes secondary or even incidental. And in a socialized health care system, cost is the overriding concern. When resources are finite and demand is ever-increasing, the only option available is rationing. That’s why Eric Idle’s appearance in the sketch is so funny – and so ominous. No one clapped for the successful delivery of the infant. But they sure clapped when the “Hospital Administrator” bragged about how much money he had saved by leasing the machine that goes “BING!” back to the company they sold it to.
Funny stuff, but there is a serious undercurrent to all this that is downright frightening. When cost is the overriding factor, rationing is inevitable. When care is rationed, people suffer and die. It’s really that simple.
Obamacare rationing is expected to begin this week, when the Food and Drug Administration revokes approval of the drug Avastin for the treatment of advanced breast cancer.
Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter has described the anticipated move as ‘the beginning of a slippery slope leading to more and more rationing under the government takeover of health care.’