Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed federal budget has likely brought the ongoing debate over Medicare and Medicaid — and health care reform in general — to the forefront of many people’s minds. Charles Camosy dives right into the health care debate and takes a close look at two aspects of the human condition that result in our inability to provide for everyone’s health care needs, which he calls a moral tragedy:
1. We have virtually unlimited health care needs.
2. We have limited health care resources.
In Too Expensive to Treat? Camosy takes readers deep into the emotionally charged and expensive world of the neonatal intensive care unit to examine the hard truth about heath care rationing in the United States. While fully affirming the human worth of even the tiniest baby, Camosy maintains that all people have equal dignity and should have an equal right to a proportionate share of community health care resources. Readers may find Camosy’s arguments provocative, even troubling — but the conversation he draws them into is one that cannot be ignored.
Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to Camosy’s book:
We cannot escape the tragedy of being unable to provide for everyone’s health care needs any more than we can escape our finite human nature and resources. We are simply destined, based on who we are and the situation in which we find ourselves, to live with this hard and disconcerting truth.
However, though we must live in this tragic situation, we need not live in an unjust situation. The former is unavoidable, but the latter is a result of immoral choices and social structures. . . . So while it is true that we will never escape the unavoidable tragedy of forced health care rationing, it is also true that we need not stand by while it is unjustly implemented. Though in this book I will focus on the context of neonatal intensive care, in many other contexts of medicine there is similar need for investigation, criticism, and reform. This book is but a single step in what will hopefully be a broad, multipronged movement in health care reform: (1) an honest acknowledgment of the inescapable need to ration resources, and (2) a rationing that has justice and the common good — rather than politics and ability to pay — as its guiding principles.